London: Where Fashion E-Commerce is Born

Before saying goodbye to the city of lovers, a visit to HEC Paris, the French business school renowned for its finance undergraduate program as well as for its retail and luxury MBA track, was mandatory.

At HEC, Professor Anne Michaut greeted us with a Luxury Master Class designed specifically for our group, where we discussed the importance of brand experience and dissected examples of brands who are getting it right. Be it the Chanel Spa at Ritz-Carlton in Paris (where Coco lived for part of the life), the Land Rover ‘Vanishing Game’ blogged by William Boyd or the Veuve Cliquot castle which hosts VIP guests, the most successful brands are those who are speaking to customers on different dimensions: not only delivering distinctive and recognizable sensory experiences but also emotional, cognitive and relational ones.

A short ride on the TGV brought us to our second stop: London. The English capital greeted us with an expected sunny day which rendered pleasant even-trafficked commutes.

First stop, Farfetch: the luxury e-commerce marketplace that everybody is talking about. The company, who is reported to be ready for an IPO soon, is already partnering with more than 800 brands and active in 190 cities worldwide, with delivery methods that ranges from an outstanding 90 minutes for Gucci items in selected locations to 4 days at the very maximum. According to Farfetch’s executives, the company is more of a technology company rather than a pure retailer and has the overarching goal of connecting customers to their favorite brands ‘for the love of fashion.’ Its special projects, the most famous being the realization of the ‘store of the future,’ are all centered around creating a seamless customer journey that blends the online and the offline experience into a never-ending loop.

Similar concept, but different business model, Asos (which stands for ‘As Seen On Screen’) is a pure e-commerce player with a clear target: the 20-something fashionista. In the London headquarters, shoots are happening all day long: in the 13 studios, 26 models are shooting more than 4,000 new items a week…Quite an impressive turnaround! The stacks of clothes ready to be filed, the models who use corridors as catwalks, and a young and fun atmosphere (the average age of the 3,000 employees orbits around the 20-ish) are the elements that strike a visitor from the start.

To round out the first day in the UK, which better way than drinking a beer at a London pub? While mingling with RLG members of LBS, we got a chance to exchange tips and ideas with our fellow MBA colleagues. In case you were wondering, CBS remains clearly the best choice. It is confirmed. At least in our eyes.

~ Alice Signori ’18

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Professor Michault – HEC Paris
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Farfetch – London Headquarters
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Farfetch – London Headquarters
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ASOS – London Headquarters

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