If Web1 was about “reading” and Web2 about “reading and writing,” Web3 is about “reading, writing, and owning,” said Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves.
on this week Most innovative companies podcast Neves explains what Web3 is and what it is capable of through the lens of fashion and culture, drawing on his experience founding and growing Farfetch, the online luxury fashion retail platform.
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’ based on how we feel, who we want to be or what we want to portray on a particular day. “It’s your second persona that’s with you every day, so technology should serve that, not replace it,” he says. “[At Farfetch] we always see technology as enhancing the human interaction between curators, creators and fashion levels, as opposed to replacing that human connection.”
Farfetch has consistently shifted and innovated to bring customers and retailers together, with an emphasis on community, user control, and accountability. Linking those who need or want with those who have. Web3 is just an extension of this phenomenon, Neves says, which is why it makes so much sense that Farfetch is actively entering space with a Web3 iteration of their long-standing Dream Assembly accelerator, Dream Assembly Base Camp.
“If You Take” [Web3] for 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 terrible, sometimes quite futuristic, but not that exciting. They wonder: is it a game? Or is it something as serious as a kind of second life? The answer is: it could be any of these things. It does not matter. To me, the definition of Web3’s application to Fashion is the application of these principles of user control and user ownership and decentralized architecture to the fashion use cases.”
Neves is a natural techie who one day found a love for fashion and, looking for a way to combine his two passions, founded his own shoe brand in London in the late 1990s. Soon after, he realized that, as people flocked to the web for its e-commerce opportunities, boutiques and independent retailers “had the bag in their hands” 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 in retrospect it turns out that Neves was premeditated to understand that our way of living and doing business would increasingly encompass both the real and virtual word.
He compares what Farfetch has been doing for a long time to what Airbnb and Uber are doing — although Farfetch preceded them both — in terms of matching existing assets with people who need those assets. “They don’t create anything new; in fact, they use and make something that already exists in the world more efficiently,” says Neves. “Farfetch did just that, get the inventory that was already in boutiques with no more production required and just plug it in 24/7.”
The idea was simple, but the impact was radical: to decentralize a system long before decentralization was talked about.
Listen to the episode for the full interview.