Luxury’s future is digital: High-end brands are finally taking to e-commerce

This is part of a special package from Glossy about what comes next, looking to the other side of the current crisis to explore the lasting changes that are coming about.

The global pandemic has hastened many of the slow changes that were already underway in fashion, particularly among notoriously slow and hesitant to evolve luxury fashion companies. Two fashion insiders said that one of the biggest changes they’ve seen on the horizon is luxury brands finally coming around to embracing digital.

“On April 25, we live-streamed our Watches and Wonders show online — it’s normally in-person every year — and it went really well,” said Christina Fontana, head of Tmall’s fashion and luxury division in Europe. The event drew in 800,000 viewers. Brands including Panerai and Cartier showed over 100 new models, which were immediately sold online after the livestream.

“One of the things that’s changing is that a lot of luxury brands that have been resistant to digital commerce are realizing that it’s here to stay,” Fontana said. “Obviously, physical shopping isn’t going away, but a lot more luxury brands are becoming more open to e-commerce.”

Tmall has seen a number of brands, like Coach, Diesel and Moschino, eagerly jumping onto its newly-launched off-price e-commerce platform Luxury Soho which launched in May. Luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch has seen its stock jumping regularly since the pandemic began, including a 12% spike during the week of July 5, as analysts have predicted the company will come out even stronger after the pandemic. 

“In the future, digital transactions are expected to represent a significantly larger proportion of the overall luxury industry,” said Jose Neves, CEO of Farfetch, referencing a McKinsey stat that said luxury’s e-commerce sales will likely double in the next five years. “The current situation, with current store closures and travel restrictions, may serve to further accelerate the secular shift to online shopping.”

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