If Web1 was about “reading” and Web2 was about “reading and writing,” then Web3 was about “reading, writing, and owning,” says Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves.
This week Most Innovative Companies podcast, Neves explains what Web3 is and is capable of through the lens of fashion and culture, drawing on his experience building and growing Farfetch, the retail platform for luxury fashion online.
Fashion, says Neves, is a deeply human endeavor and an essential part of who we are as individuals. Fashion allows us to apply different “masks” depending on how we feel, who we want to be, or what we want to portray on any given day. “It’s your second character that accompanies you every day, so technology should serve that, not replace it,” he says. “[At Farfetch] we still believe that technology enhances the human interaction between curators, designers and fashion levels, instead of replacing that human connection.
Farfetch has constantly changed and innovated to bring customers and retailers together, with an emphasis on community, user control and accountability. Match those who need or want with those who have. Web3 is just an extension of this phenomenon, says Neves, which is why it makes so much sense that Farfetch is actively entering the space with a Web3 iteration of its long-running Dream Assembly accelerator, Dream Coven Base Camp.
“When you take [Web3] in fashion, the use cases are endless,” he says. “The problem is that when people think of Web3 fashion, they think of digital clothing on avatars – sometimes they look awful, sometimes quite futuristic, but not that exciting. They wonder, is this a game? Or is it something serious like a second life? The answer is: it can be all of these things. It doesn’t matter. For me, the definition of trendy Web3 application is the applying these principles of user control and ownership and decentralized architecture to fashion use cases.
Neves is a natural techie who once found a love for fashion and, looking for a way to merge his two passions, founded his own shoe brand in London in the late 1990s. Soon after, he acknowledged that as people flocked to the web for its e-commerce opportunities, boutiques and independent retailers found themselves “holding the bag” and needed a way to compete. The world needed connection.
Able to speak both languages - the language of technology and the language of fashion – he gave them the answer, in the form of a revolutionary business model that would combine the physical with the digital.
That was 2007, and hindsight showed that Neves had the foresight to realize that our ways of living and doing business would increasingly involve both the real word and the virtual.
He compares what Farfetch has been doing for a long time with what Airbnb and Uber are doing — although Farfetch preceded them both — in terms of matching existing assets with people who need them. “They don’t create anything new; in fact, they are using and making more effective something that already exists in the world,” says Neves. “Farfetch was doing just that, taking inventory that was already in stores without needing to produce anything extra and simply connecting it 24/7.”
The idea was simple but the impact was radical: to decentralize a system long before we talk about decentralization.
Listen to the episode for the full interview.
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