Jeffery Fowler, president of Farfetch North America, joined Glossy+ members for a Slack Chat on July 10. The longtime luxury veteran discussed the state of innovation in retail, fashion’s need to adopt a tech-savvy mindset and Farfetch’s recently launched Store of the Future platform. The full conversation is available exclusively to Glossy+ members, but lightly edited excerpts appear below. Click here to join Glossy+.

On knowing if a luxury fashion brand is willing to experiment:
“For me, there are two key signs that a retailer is on the right track to thinking about the retail experience of the future. First, they are laser focused on knowing their customer, and this is usually paid back because the customer is often buzzing about their favorite retailer or brand. Second, they are not afraid to try new things, even if those new things don’t always succeed.”

On ways fashion and luxury companies can adopt a “tech ethos”:
“Digital technology does not come naturally to [these companies], and it is sometimes at odds with the culture of how traditional luxury brands operate. If the leadership of a company, all the way up to the CEO level, embraces the ‘tech ethos,’ or more broadly, the willingness to embrace change to better serve the customer, then that’s the biggest step. Great examples abound, like Gucci, Tiffany & Co [and] Sephora. These companies have the right mentality at the top, and it permeates throughout their brand experience all the way to the retail shop floor.”

On how brands can communicate directly to the customer:
Retailers have traditionally succeeded on their ability to provide exceptional service, bring newness and surprise and delight moments to their consumers, and innovate in the physical domain. We went through a ‘doldrums’ period, in my opinion, over the last 10 to 15 years, where all of that was surpassed by a ‘race to the bottom’ mentality of deeper and deeper promotions, and a lack of risk-taking and innovation. I see the early stages of luxury retailers getting back to the mentality of innovating on the customer experience.”

On Farfetch’s biggest learnings from their Store of the Future platform, one year in:
“We have been in a steadily constant state of learning since [then], with the tools we have launched in our store in London, Browns East, as well as our brand partnership with Thom Browne here in New York City and in London, but I would say that one of our biggest learnings was more of an inflection point for our Store of the Future team, and that was when Chanel agreed to sign a multiyear deal with Farfetch to use our technology to innovate within their stores — the learning there being that even a brand like Chanel, which has been well documented as cautious to embrace technology and e-commerce, realizes the need to move and change with their customer and the culture.”

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