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Farfetch’s Pre-Order Platform Tackles a Major Industry Problem

The fashion industry generates a prodigious amount of waste. A new pre-order platform from Farfetch is looking to avoid some of it.

The luxury e-tailer has teamed up with nearly a dozen brands, including Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, Khaite, Nanushka, ​​Oscar de la Renta and its own Off-White, to give its customers the opportunity to check out and order designs four weeks before they hit the shelves. Since the products have already been made, the idea is to give Farfetch a competitive edge over its rivals. But the Browns and Stadium Goods’ owner says it also wants to shift to a made-to-order model, allowing it to tackle the problem of unsold inventory when supply exceeds demand.

“The long-term goal is to develop a pre-production proposition, providing brands with a way to help manage inventory and minimize waste within the industry,” Jamie Freed, global vice president of Farfetch Private Client, told Sourcing Journal. “We have always wanted to offer a more sustainable industry solution in order to better match supply with demand to help solve overproduction challenges, so it was incredibly encouraging to know that both our brands and customers also wanted this service from us.”

Indeed, the impetus for the program came from the top, Freed said. Farfetch’s customers had been telling the e-tailer “for years” that they wanted to get a jump on picking out certain looks before everyone else. Brands, too, clamored for a way to offer their collections on a pre-order basis, not only because it enables them to manage their stock in a “conscious way,” but also because it makes more financial sense.

“Today’s pre-order proposition offers brands a chance to extend their full price selling season by giving them the ability to sell items that are already scheduled for production ahead of being available in store,” Freed said. “By extending this selling window, brands should expect to see a higher sell-through of seasonal merchandise at full price.”

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Farfetch, which recently said that fashion “can and should have a positive impact,” has already given consumers a peek at what made-to-order on its website will look like. To tout the pre-order launch, the company collaborated with digital fashion startups DressX and Threedium to virtually render clothing and accessories on models. Offsets were purchased to cancel out any carbon emissions.

“Additionally, we invited influencers to select their favorite pre-order pieces and work with DressX and Threedium to create images of themselves wearing the digital clothing,” Freed said. “We were able to create an entire campaign without shipping an entire sample.”

Though the e-tailer will be adding new brands and products to the pre-order scheme monthly, Farfetch’s goal is to help its customers slow down their speed of consumption and choose better-quality pieces they’ll love for a long time. “I’d like to think that this can become the preferred option for customers looking to invest in fashion who will thoughtfully choose to shop this way,” Freed added.