Condé Nast axes Style.com as its strikes deal with Farfetch
Rumours swirling around Condé Nast’s luxury e-commerce portal Style.com have been confirmed with the media giant saying Tuesday that it is closing immediately as it strikes a new deal to commercialise its content via fast-expanding Farfetch.com.
Style.com can no longer be accessed with anyone trying to get onto the site now being redirected to farfetch.com.
It seems an ignominious end for a much-publicised operation that had style influencer Yasmin Sewell as its frontwoman and that ate up around $100m of Condé Nast’s cash in a relatively short period of time.
But while in a letter to staff the company said the business had fallen very far short of expectations, it is putting a positive spin on the move. It is talking up its Farfetch link as it aims to make the most of the luxury e-tailer’s undeniably successful business model that gives independent luxury boutiques a marketplace through which to sell their goods.
Those boutiques sell the luxury brands that appear in the pages of Condé Nast magazines, on its websites and its social media channels, which means the benefits of the deal really do stack up.
And that’s what the two partners are focusing on with no mention of whether any Style.com staff will survive and transition to the new operation. However, in the letter to staff, the company did say that there could be some opportunities at both Condé Nast and at Farfetch. And we know one person who will join the new set-up is Jonathan Newhouse. Condé Nast’s chairman is to take a seat on Farfetch’s board.
In detail, the companies said the strategic partnership is designed “to connect Condé Nast's global editorial portfolio with Farfetch's e-commerce, technology and logistics platform [to] create a seamless luxury shopping journey from world authority fashion inspiration to purchase gratification, commercialising Condé Nast's online and social media content by linking it to the world's leading brands and boutiques, in real time.”
They said the partnership will include a seamless technology connection to easily enable Farfetch product integration into Condé Nast's content; shopping guides created by its publications, highlighting products from Farfetch; and distribution of shoppable content across its digital and social platforms. In addition, the wide-ranging deal will see Condé Nast and Farfetch collaborate on “defining and rolling out innovative content and commerce experiences for today's consumer.”
Condé Nast's titles, including Vogue, GQ, Glamour, Vanity Fair and Allure, among others have an audience of over 340m and while many of those readers will already be looking at Farfetch’s 200-plus brands and 500-plus luxury boutique network, many will not. This represents a huge new potential customer base for the business.
José Neves, founder and CEO of the e-tailer, said, "We have long felt that inspirational content is a natural part of any luxury shopping experience. This global partnership will significantly augment the retail experience for our customers, and we see it as a natural step in Farfetch's approach to commerce and our strategic vision to connect those who create fashion, curate fashion and develop fashion content.”
Meanwhile Jonathan Newhouse highlighted Condé Nast’s 2014 investment in Farfetch and described the deal as “an industry-defining collaboration”.
There was no comment on the thinking that saw the Style.com brand being axed. Style had been Condé Nast;’s flagship home for runway content but that was rebadged as Vogue Runway in 2015 with Style relaunching as a luxury content-to-e-tail site in September last year.
But despite a senior line-up including fashion director Yasmin Sewell, editorial director Melissa Dick and head of innovation Natalie Varma, the operation underwhelmed the industry. Slow to launch, it arrived just as existing luxury e-tailers such as Farfetch and its rivals Matchesfashion and Net-A-Porter upped their game and carved out a larger market share. The giants of luxury physical store retail also boosted their e-tail ops with department stores such as Selfridges, Neiman Marcus, and Harvey Nichols growing online while individual luxury brands also expanded their e-commerce ops. It appears that Style.com could just have been too slow and too late to the party.
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