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 farfetch.com, the marketplace for independent fashion boutiques, has today announced a further $18m in funding.

Taking the total backing to almost $25m, the company has also appointed Index Venture's Robin Klein to its board of directors. This adds to Klein’s current roles at StylistPick, MyBuilder and Wonga.

London-based farfetch provides customers with a 'curated' view of high-end fashion from internationally-recognised designer brands, including established and emerging labels.

Aimed at both men and women, it currently hosts over 35,000 items from 110 partners in Europe and the US, and 60 partners in Brazil.

With giants like Amazon and eBay leading the way, the idea of an ‘online marketplace’ isn’t exactly new – but there have been a few examples of the fashion industry taking up the idea of late to great success. 

Established a year ago, ASOS Marketplace allows boutiques, vintage collectors, individuals and designers to open virtual stores, a little like US e-commerce giant Etsy. ASOS says sales from this have grown 690% over the past year

Since its launch by José Neves in late 2008, farfetch.com has experienced rapid growth and consumer adoption, with a current annual sales growth rate of 150%. The company now has more than 56,000 customers in 100 countries, with 50% of sales coming from emerging and new markets.  

Now, the funding will be used to expand its brand and operational presence, particularly in the US.

Some smaller retailers find it difficult to either differentiate themselves online, or support the logistics needed to provide an online service. A marketplace provides a way to do this, with far less resource and investment, while still promoting a designer’s wares. It’s a win-win situation.

Often, the simplest ideas are the best, and when a marketplace is selective and managed well - like all good department stores on the high street - they can flourish.

Vikki Chowney

Published 16 January, 2012 by Vikki Chowney

Vikki is head of community at TMW. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

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