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Farfetch wants to fund the rise of Web3 fashion with a new accelerator. The online luxury marketplace is bringing back the Farfetch Dream Assembly after a two-year hiatus to focus solely on Web3 in partnership with European VC firm Outlier Ventures.
The 12-week program, now called Dream Assembly Base Camp, will focus on digital fashion, tokenized loyalty, immersive experiences and the creator economy. It will be virtual, unlike past iterations, and include five to 10 startups that either provide a Web3-related solution for luxury fashion or that aim to expand their Web3 capabilities to the fashion industry. The chosen startups will get access to the two companies’ networks of mentors and investors and a $150,000 grant, with guidance on fundraising, tokenomics, community growth and marketing.
“We have seen the definition [of Web3] emerge a lot more in the past six months, and Farfetch is looking to support the future of that,” says Carol Hilsum, senior director of product innovation at Farfetch. “The luxury sector has been testing and seeing validation from the customer, and the consumer has been a real guiding light.” She adds that while Web3 is a broad term, the program is approaching it as both a technical evolution and a cultural one. “It is starting to really influence how people think about community, ownership and authenticity.”
Farfetch is getting involved in Web3 after previously sitting out. During a February conversation with Vogue Business, CEO José Neves said that he intentionally didn’t want to feed into metaverse hype, and preferred Web3 as an umbrella term. “I’m absolutely obsessed with anything new that comes up with technology,” Neves said. “We have been talking about this for a couple of years and done so many things, but tech for tech’s sake? I never liked that idea. We need to put the consumer first and solve a real problem that exists. We are just bucking the trend, and saying, ‘OK, let everyone have their metaverse moment, and we will continue working on the long-term and the evolution of the customer experience.’”
Farfetch Dream Assembly, and the wider company including Farfetch Platform Solutions, has already invested considerably in Web3 and metaverse technologies. New York tech startup Eon, for example, participated in the program in 2019 and has gone on to provide blockchain-based digital identities for those including Mulberry, Gabriela Hearst and Yoox Net-a-Porter. Farfetch marketplace and Farfetch-owned Off-White now accept cryptocurrency payments, and the company has introduced multiple digital fashion projects, including digitally dressing influencers to promote its new pre-sale offering, and digital try-on via Snapchat. Outlier Ventures also runs a Web3 “Base Camp” program and has invested in Web3 companies in the past including digital fashion house Auroboros and metaverse checkout tech provider Boson Protocol.
Hilsum says that while Web3 businesses are seeing momentum and interest from fashion brands, they also face challenges that the new Dream Assembly Base Camp hopes to solve. These include the complexity of setup, including legal considerations and the economics of tokenomics, and the speed of innovation. Web2, she points out, was “built over almost a 20-year period. Now, they are building at the same time that consumers are using it.”
Farfetch will be accepting applications until mid-August, and will announce the chosen participants at the end of September when the program begins. In the past, some graduates from the program have gone on to partner with Farfetch and its brands, including sustainability ratings company Good On You, resale platform Luxclusif, repair service The Restory and donation service Thrift+, meaning that the chosen startups often give a clue as to Farfetch’s potential roadmap.
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