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Farfetch’s Second ‘Dream Assembly’ Cohort Focused on Sustainability

Applications are being taken through March 24 for the second edition of Farfetch’s Dream Assembly Base Camp, a 12-week program that seeks to inspire, train and ultimately back Web3 startups with dreams of being the next breakouts in digital design.

The luxury fashion e-commerce marketplace is partnering with Outlier Ventures, an accelerator and investor in startups since 2014, to host the academy, which will begin in mid-April and end with a funding pledge from Outlier Ventures of $150,000 in exchange for 7.5 percent equity in the company and 7.5 percent future token supply.

The Dream Assembly began in 2018 and helped launch more than 60 startups before it joined forces with Outlier Ventures to establish the Base Camp in 2022.

“We realized there was a new wave of emerging startups trying to navigate this space, and there was no ecosystem or support for them, particularly in the luxury fashion industry,” Carol Hilsum, Farfetch senior director of product innovation, told Sourcing Journal. “We wanted to support businesses that are really looking to push the needle and have tangible applications and value that will truly drive forward and future-proof the industry.”

Blake Lezenski, program manager for Outlier Ventures, said sustainability will be a cornerstone of the second cohort, and something specifically the Academy is looking for in applications.

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“As we seek to embark on a more sustainable future, the second edition therefore looks to mobilize a community of creators that foster bold changes in thinking, acting and choosing positively,” Lezenski said. “With these characteristics foundational to their identity, applicants must be ready to address key predicaments persisting in the industry, from the counterfeit of luxury products, fast fashion pollutants and waste generated by design prototyping.”

Those selected will take part in a 12-week remote experience that Lezenski described as “time intensive,” but how much time each camper will spend depends on their field of interest and business objectives.

The first cohort met at the end of 2022 and featured eight businesses from five different countries, chosen from more than 200 applications.

The average day involves sessions and workshops with experts and mentors and at the end of each week, the cohort comes together for problem-solving sessions.

“Ultimately the overarching aim is to accelerate the life cycle of young companies by compressing [a] year’s worth of learning by doing into a few intense months,” Lezenski said.  “This is particularly heightened in Web3, where capital markets move 10 times faster than traditional markets.”

That heightened pace has plenty to do with blockchain currency, which Lezenski said is also an important piece of the training participants receive.

“We see blockchain currency as an integral component of the future of Web3 commerce,” he said of an industry expected to grow by $1 trillion by 2025. “The use of blockchain enables data transparency among retailers and has the potential to change the way loyalty programs work, turning its monetization into a sustainable revenue stream for e-commerce businesses.”

Success stories from the last cohort include Curie, which reconstructs products into 3D assets. iindyverse inserts the messaging power of video games into shopping experiences, enables NFT commerce and white label strategies, Mintouge creates fashion for the metaverse, Reblium helps design avatars to a user’s specifications, Sknups creates not just fashions but skins for avatars and Wear offers “bespoke designs for the digital soul.”


“More than ever, we recognize the need to identify and understand the specific risks that Web3 startups face,” Lezenski said. “Curated mentorship, networking opportunities and tailored support mitigate potential issues, and will thus allow our cohorts to navigate their own fruitful path beyond launch.” 

None of the launches from cohort one deals directly with the issue of sustainability. But beyond simply not existing in the physical world, what can make Web3 sustainable and how can cohort two candidates find use cases to explore?

“We have already seen companies like DressX inspire people to wear digital jewelry in digital meetings, where it is clear that this can replace purchasing physical goods,” Hilsum said. “As we continue to live more digital lives, we anticipate that the boundaries between physical goods and digital goods will become increasingly blurred, and digital wardrobes will become just as important and useful as physical ones.”

Hilsum pointed to product passports as an opportunity for Web3 to actively aid the physical world.

“It has the potential to create a whole new layer of product data and metadata that can enable advanced use cases in reselling and personal clothing management, making it easier for customers to trace and connect to their clothing, increase secondhand market opportunities, and encourage people to preserve and repair the clothes they own,” she said.

In a non-material reality, what makes digital fashion luxury?

“This is a very interesting and emerging area. We are all just starting to understand what luxury means in this space,” Hilsum said. “For us, the principles of luxury will always be relevant, like encompassing the quality of experience and the level of creativity. I think the ability to use technology to create great immersive, emotional, and creative experiences will become the most luxurious type of metaverse experiences.”