If you ask any lifelong fashionista, the holy grail of haute shopping is the item you find on vacation and bring home—that which your friends can’t easily find. It becomes a statement item, uniquely associated with you.
However, with the invention of online shopping, the travelers’ advantage has become a relic. What you can’t find in person in your area is easily purchased online, from almost any brand or store on earth.
Farfetch, an online shopping aggregation platform developed in 2008, addresses both access and uniqueness by connecting discerning global shoppers with small, local boutiques.
It flattens the landscape while maintaining an exclusivity you don’t find with major department stores, flash sale sites, or even mono-brand websites.
Part of the appeal of stores like Marissa Collections and Mario’s is their curation. They may carry many of the same brands as Neiman Marcus and Barney’s, but the pieces they choose each season vary widely.
Since fashion has grown, democratized, and become more mainstream, brands like Gucci produce a wide range of goods each season, aimed a different markets, across demographics, geographies, and tastes.
I discovered Farfetch through the ShopStyle app. What I found was the virtual travelers’ delight—the anti-chain—from the comfort of my home.
Browsing the site feels like any other. The selections are high-end, distinctive, and expensive. Dig deeper, and you’ll notice that items are shipped from individual boutiques, not a Farfetch warehouse.
My first purchase came in the form of Valentino Rockstud sandals, for summer. Gente Roma shipped them, and they arrived a short time later via DHL (my new favorite way to receive packages). From another continent.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed them immensely, and have yet to see a copycat with the same shoes. They also don’t show up anywhere else online.
Farfetch speaks to my love of shopping, my desire to travel, and my passion to support local commerce, whether it’s in Tampa, or in Rome. It also allows me to seek out rarer pieces – like the Versace iconic black tank top I bought from David Lawrence in Seattle (though it was too small).
There are a couple of things to keep in mind with the site: (1) most boutiques are international, but import duties are included in the displayed price, and no taxes are charged. (2) The site occasionally has shipping promotions, so you can save $20 or so there. And (3), because prices vary by country, even with exchange rates, you can sometimes find identical items for cheaper than on US-based sites. Case: these Tod’s boat shoes. Compare at Barneys.
Returns are easy too. Send the item back the way it was shipped, free of charge. With DHL I was able to schedule a pick-up from my office.
The New York Times recently featured a story on Farfetch and its founder José Neves.
I encourage you to explore the truly global offerings of the site. If you’re into names like Dolce & Gabbana, Margiela, and Saint Laurent, you will enjoy the experience immensely.
Were I to ever open a brick-and-mortar store (one of my dreams), I would carefully consider opting into the Farfetch platform—to save from creating my own, and to connect to a wider global clientele.