Hubert Burda Media

Future-proof Fashion at Farfetch

Online retailer Farfetch’s Candice Fragis tells us about discovering new brands, her personal inspirations and why Alessandro Michele is leading the pack.

There are too many things that we love about shopping online. Whether you’re searching for a pair of sneakers or a sit-down dinner dress, you now have access to hundreds of choices, wherever you are and at any time, with the simple click of a button. With plenty of channels available nowadays (and trust us, there are a lot), one of our go-to online shopping destinations is London-based company Farfetch.

Unlike the other existing luxury e-tailers, however, Farfetch – founded by tech-savvy Portuguese José Neves – runs its business by partnering with more than 750 designers and fashion boutiques across the globe, carrying womenswear and menswear from more than 1,500 luxury labels. What sets this company even further apart? Farfetch doesn’t hold any physical stock of goods, so once an order is placed on the site, the product gets sent directly from the partnered boutique to customers all over the world. According to our research, this means rarer, limited items may pop up here, when not listed on other sites. 

On a rainy day, in the midst of Paris Fashion Week, we meet with Farfetch’s stylish buying and merchandising director, Candice Fragis, who works closely with the boutiques and brand partners as well as the company’s editorial, fashion and marketing teams. When she’s not at fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris, Fragis’s day-to-day-role at the Farfetch London headquarters involves looking at markets, analysing online growth strategies and discovering new and emerging talent, among other activities. With more than 12 years of experience in the industry, Fragis is just the person we want to talk to – about style, wish lists and searching for the next big thing.

Do you source items straight from the runway?

Hypothetically, yes, because Farfetch buying is a different kind of buying. We don’t have an open budget, we’re working with our boutiques. I’ll also look at the runways because I base my market overview alongside our fashion editor and VM [visual merchandising] team on our trends overview. So I am essentially shopping from the runway. We work with great curators and partners. They all have their own DNA and an amazing edited selection. Having been a buyer for many years, getting to newness is tough. 

What do you look for when you choose items for each brand?

I get inspired by what someone is presenting. For me, I look for the established brand’s consistency and innovation. So how are they keeping their customer and are they still delivering what the true DNA of the brand is – which I know is ultimately going to lead to the success and longevity of the brand. But then, on the flipside of that, the designer of Gucci [Alessandro Michele] is a great example of someone that’s come and done a 180 [degree turn] for the brand and that’s exactly what Gucci needed. For a brand like that, where maybe a season is getting a little flat, or the brand interpretation is a little bit more silent than it had previously been – you’re always looking for that next injection of something. You’re especially looking for that when there’s a new designer. You want to see what they’re bringing to the table and how they’re innovating that brand. When I’m looking for new talent, I’m looking for a point of view, quality, fit, and a story. I want to buy in to who’s behind the brand and what that brand is about. I’ve never really been interested in trends or a statement for the sake of a statement.

How would you describe your personal style?

I’m pretty consistent. I have my handful of designers that I always shop from. I think I’m probably a combination between hippie and rock. It’s Haider Ackermann, Dries Van Noten, and I’ve bought years’ and years’ and years’ worth of Rick Owens. Those are my favourite established brands, probably, that I buy the most of. A brand called By Walid is one of my favourite brands. The designer, Walid al Damirji, specialises in 16th to 18th-century Asian fabrics, predominantly. He’s one of my friends and one of my favourite brands. These are brands that have got a real story, a point of view, and are doing something different.

What’s on your wish list? 

I massively believe in the wish list. I think it’s a great way for you to get a bit of clarity before purchasing and see things in one place. I always have knitwear in my wish list. I love Jacquemus for spring/summer. It was one of my favourite shows. 

What trends are you into at the moment?

What I really love at the moment is having someone like Alessandro Michele, who is really leading the pack. It’s the anti-trend, what he’s doing, and I love that. I love the mix and match. I love the print-on-print and the femininity without it being all about sexiness. I love sexiness but I like subtle sexiness, so that’s why I love the details like the cold shoulder or the keyhole details around the chest. I like that you can be feminine and sexy with that kind of Man-Repeller [blog] kind of style. 

What are your thoughts on emerging brands nowadays?

I saw a brand yesterday, which I was completely blown away by. I’ve been trying to see him for a year and I’m so wowed by him. His name is Nabil Nayal and he specialises in Victorian design – the actual process and aesthetic. It’s magnificent. He’s already got Karl Lagerfeld wearing his clothes and he’s designing for women. His technique and his aesthetic are really quite stunning. I think that there’s so much great talent out there. There are the commercial ones that are getting a lot of hype, that I think are doing a really nice job, like the Attico girls [Gilda Ambrosio and Giorgia Tordini]. It’s really lovely what they’re doing. We’ve got a lot of great partners.