Inside the new Browns: Farfetch’s store of the future – Vogue Business

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Farfetch, owner of British multi-brand luxury boutique Browns, has been building its interpretation of the store of the future over the last three years. The future had to be put on hold when lockdowns and closures of non-essential shops in the UK contributed to delays in 2020.

“I’ve been so frustrated because we can’t get it open,” says Holli Rogers, chair at Browns and chief brand officer at Farfetch. She’s excited for the grand reveal: at last, the new Browns flagship will open on 12 April in London. With Farfetch engineering the store’s new approach, technology, high-touch services and customer engagement will be at the centre of Browns’ retail strategy.

The new store on Mayfair’s Brook Street is the latest iteration of multi-brand e-commerce marketplace Farfetch’s new strategic initiative dubbed “Luxury New Retail”, harnessing its technology and brand relationships to digitise the luxury industry. Farfetch’s deal with Alibaba and Richemont late last year cemented its move from a marketplace to a luxury tech provider. They already offer e-concessions as a service, and in 2018 reached a deal to work on Chanel’s Paris boutiques. The new Browns is the next step in Farfetch’s vision of digitising luxury, with augmented reality and links to the marketplace.

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“Browns has always been an innovative retailer and Farfetch has worked to keep this spirit alive and pioneer new ways of engaging customers both online and offline,” Farfetch founder and chief executive José Neves told Vogue Business. “[Our ambition is for] Browns to remain at the forefront of retailing… by continuing to pioneer innovative ways to engage the customer but also to continue to champion new brands and designers, which it is famous for.”

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Since 2018 Farfetch has been working with Chanel to roll out its in-store technology including an app to view Chanel’s runway looks, book an appointment and pre-arrange a selection on arrival, alongside high-tech dressing rooms with a connected mirror to display customers’ choices. At Chanel, the technology was used for storytelling and customer discovery of collections, while Browns will use the same technology to offer customers a seamless shopping experience, says Sandrine Deveaux, executive vice president of future retail at Farfetch.

The store, it appears, is far from over. While consumers have gotten used to the convenience of shopping online, they also miss being connected in a physical environment, says Deveaux. “Brook Street is a landmark and it’s where we can showcase to the world our vision of luxury retail.”



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