Is Farfetch Closing Its Beauty Operations? – WWD

PARIS – Is Farfetch exiting beauty just over a year after plunging into the category?

Numerous industry sources say that is the case.

Farfetch executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether the business is winding down. It could not be learned if the move would have any impact on Violet Grey, the speciality beauty retailer Farfetch acquired in January 2022.

U.K.-based Farfetch launched into beauty in April 2022 with an assortment of more than 100 prestige brands. It set out to rewrite the retail playbook by differentiating itself with a gender-neutral assortment in an approach it dubbed “Beauty Beyond Boundaries.”

Featured beauty brands on the site today include 111Skin, Aesop, Augustinus Badar, Balmain Hair Couture, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, Dr. Barbara Sturm, Dr. Sebagh, Gucci Beauty, Off-White Beauty and Westman Atelier.

The battle for the prestige beauty shopper has reached a fever pitch over the past three years. In the U.S., for instance, mass players such as Kohl’s and Target have gone deeper into the category via partnerships with Sephora and Ulta Beauty, respectively. Digital players like Net-a-porter and Ssense have delved deeper into prestige beauty, too.

But it’s not all panned out as expected.

In March, the RealReal, for instance, said it is renewing its focus on the platform’s luxury consignment business and reallocating resources from its direct business, including beauty. At the time, a RealReal spokesperson told WWD that beauty signified only a small piece of its marketplace.

Farfetch’s April 2022 launch into beauty wasn’t the first time it eyed the category for expansion. In 2016, the platform partnered with Space NK on a limited offering available online, which posed a slew of logistical challenges.

Simultaneous to Farfetch’s recent launch into beauty, Browns Fashion, the London-based luxury retailer, introduced a limited beauty assortment online and in its two brick-and-mortar doors.

While Violet Grey and Browns were to lean into small, curated assortments, as a marketplace Farfetch was to fulfil orders with inventory from the two retailers, as well as its own buy.

Digital activations for Farfetch Beauty ranged from Roblox to the Sims 4, where content creators could concoct their own beauty avatars.

Farfetch also inaugurated the Global Beauty Collective, a committee aiming to “educate, inspire and build a sense of community,” the company explained at the time.

Founding members ranged from entrepreneurs and professionals to dermatologists and performers, and included Cassandra Grey, founder of Violet Grey; makeup artists Erin Parsons and Isamaya Ffrench; hairstylist Jawara; style director Mia Kong; dermatologist Michelle Henry; cosmetic chemist Michelle Wong; actor Nico Hiraga, and drag queen Violet Chachki.

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