On Thursday, the London-based e-commerce retailer unveiled its first conscious luxury trends report, detailing the ways in which the sector’s shoppers are purchasing more responsibly.
Not surprisingly, the data revealed an evolution in shopper behavior throughout the pandemic. The Covid-19 crisis changed their daily routines, and as consumers pulled back on social engagements and opportunities to show off new duds, they became more stringent in identifying the criteria that would necessitate a luxury splurge.
During this time, brand efforts surrounding sustainability became a key driver for luxury lovers, Farfetch said, and their augmented awareness is driving brands’ transformations. The company has developed a set of standards to identify consciously crafted wares on its site. To meet that mark, products must encompass at least one of Farfetch’s criteria for responsible sourcing, including being made with independently recognized or certified materials that are organic, upcycled, recycled, low-impact or cellulosic, being crafted through certified production processes, being pre-owned, or belonging to a brand that scores well with ethical rating agency Good on You.
In 2020 alone, the sale of products labeled “conscious” on Farfetch’s site grew more than three times faster than the marketplace’s average, the group said. Traffic to pages with conscious product quadrupled year over year, and the pandemic also gave way to a “dramatic rise” in the use of the site’s sustainability filter, which segments environmentally friendly products.
When surveyed, 88 percent of Farfetch consumers indicated that minimizing their environmental impact was important to them, and half said they “care deeply” about the issue. When it came to translating those sentiments into shopping behaviors, they highlighted quality and durability (68 percent), good conditions and fair wages for workers (42 percent) and the use of organic or recycled materials (28 percent) as the driving factors in their decision-making process.
Farfetch’s marketplace data confirmed that certain change-making brands have come out on top with shoppers over the past year. Re/Done, which upcycles used jeans like Levi’s into contemporary silhouettes, saw its gross merchandise volume (GMV) increase by 17 percent in 2020 from the year prior. Meanwhile, sustainable stalwart Patagonia, which champions a number of eco-focused initiatives including using less water, fewer chemicals and less energy in its dyeing process, saw a 247-percent jump in GMV on Farfetch.com during the same time period.
Luxury label Ganni’s sales jumped 35 percent during 2020 as the brand promoted its strategy to combat CO2 emissions through carbon offset purchases, while Sweden-based Nudie Jeans’ sales skyrocketed 434 percent on Farfetch, likely due in part to its ongoing efforts to work with ethical suppliers and subcontractors and promote a more just supply chain.
Boutique brands and luxury leaders alike are taking steps to meet the undeniable consumer demand for engagement in social and environmental issues, Farfetch added. Small luxury companies like jewelry maker Alighieri, handcrafted clothier Bode and celeb-beloved sneaker label Veja have become leaders in Farfetch’s conscious selection, each boasting growth levels of well over 100 percent year over year. Established players like Gucci, Burberry and Prada have launched well-received product lines that champion issues like sustainable material adoption and tannery certification, earning them clout with consumers.
The company’s insights also showed that the trend toward more conscious consumption is a global one. Notably, Mexico saw the most robust conscious shopping growth, with a 341-percent increase in spend on ethical and sustainable products in 2020, while Asian countries like China, Korea and Japan remain the world’s earliest adopters of emerging conscious brands.
It’s not just brand initiatives that are resonating with luxury shoppers, but circular fashion initiatives, like resale, that extend the life of garments and accessories. Farfetch’s Second Life service, which allows shoppers to buy and sell used luxury handbags, saw 527-percent year-over-year growth in 2020, while the site’s selection of secondhand luxury apparel, footwear, jewelry and leather goods more than doubled from 2019.
The Covid crisis has generated higher demand for investment pieces that “potentially hold or increase their value,” Farfetch found, with brands boasting worldwide cachet getting the most attention from shoppers. Used products from Louis Vuitton (28 percent), Chanel (19 percent), Hermes (17 percent) and Rolex (6 percent) made up the highest proportion of page views for secondhand items in Q4 of 2020.
Even avid luxury shoppers are learning to love pre-owned products, with more than half (57 percent) of Farfetch buyers saying that purchasing pre-owned goods prevented them from buying something brand new. In fact, of all Farfetch shoppers surveyed, over half (52 percent) said they had bought or sold used luxury goods within the 12 months leading up to September.
What’s more, the company’s donation service, powered by Thrift+, allows shoppers to donate their worn garments to a charity of their choice. The program’s donation volume grew by 662 percent over the course of the past year, indicating a desire from consumers to keep these goods in rotation, even without compensation, and dedicate them to a good cause.
Concurrent with the release of its conscious luxury trends report, Farfetch also released an updated version of its Fashion Footprint tool. Developed in collaboration with Impact of Fashion in order to help consumers fully grasp the impact of their consumption habits, the microsite houses information and links to all of the brand’s conscious initiatives. The guide includes Farfetch-powered secondhand shopping channels, conscious collections and Farfetch Fix, a dedicated luxury restoration service powered by The Restory, a repairs atelier based in London.
“2020 saw a rapid acceleration of the move online and, as our report finds, a surge in consumers choosing to shop more positively,” Thomas Berry, Farfetch’s director of sustainable business, said in a statement. “Our updated Fashion Footprint Tool is the latest of our initiatives to enable customers to make more informed decisions on how they shop and the environmental impact they have.”
José Neves, the e-tailer’s CEO and chairman, added that Farfetch aims to be “the platform for good in luxury,” and one that “enables and empowers everyone from our brand and boutique partners and customers to the broader luxury sector to think, act and choose positively.”
“2020 highlighted more than ever the importance of using our global platform to be an enabler of positive change in the industry and we made significant progress,” he added, pointing to the adoption of cleaner, more conscious, circular and inclusive products and processes. The advent of the company’s conscious luxury trends report and updated Fashion Footprint tool represent “the next steps in meeting our long-term ambition to enable positive change in the luxury sector and consumer behaviors,” Neves said.