Condé Nast International has made its largest e-commerce investment to date by putting $20 million of funding into Farfetch.com, an online marketplace for high-end, independent fashion boutiques worldwide. CNI joins existing Farfetch investors Advent Venture Partners, Index Ventures and e.ventures.
"Farfetch has a unique position, connecting boutiques around the world by e-commerce to sophisticated fashion customers like our magazine readers and Web site users. It's a natural for Condé Nast," said Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive officer of CNI.
James Bilefield, president of Condé Nast International Digital, said: "This investment underlines our commitment to extend the scope of our activities and back great entrepreneurs." As part of the investment, Bilefield will join the Farfetch board.
José Neves, who founded Farfetch in 2008 and is its CEO, said the new funds will be used to expand in markets, such as the U.S., where the site still has a relatively small presence. Other markets where they are looking to expand include Germany, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
Neves also plans to launch a Japanese language website later this year. Farfetch already has sites in English, French and Portuguese.
Both Neves and Bilefield stressed that while their companies would remain separate, they would actively cooperate and help each other. Neves stressed that the investment was "not about a JV or a strategic partnership" or a fusion of e-commerce with the Condé Nast titles.
In its almost three-and-a-half years of existence, Farfetch has built up a site of specialty fashion boutiques that serve 150,000 consumers in more than 140 countries, according to Neves. Last year saw a 145 percent increase in the amount of total sales transacted through Farfetch from 2011 and he projects 120 percent growth for 2013.