Tech Entrepreneur and Sustainability Pioneer
Chairman of YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP, Independent Director of Giorgio Armani, Chair of HRH’s Fashion and Textiles Task Force for the Sustainable Markets Initiative
Federico Marchetti, defined by the New York Times as “the man who put fashion on the net”, has revolutionised the fashion industry. Over the last 20 years he has continued to push the boundaries of innovation, transforming the luxury shopping experience through artificial intelligence, visual recognition and big data; his pioneering approach has united human and machine like never before. Marchetti remains convinced that the intelligent use of technology can help us save the planet.
Marchetti founded YOOX, the world’s first lifestyle e-commerce destination, in 2000, way before the launch of Facebook and the iPhone. YOOX was listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in 2009; today, it remains Italy’s sole “unicorn”. In 2015, Marchetti drove the game-changing merger of YOOX and NET-A-PORTER to create the world leader in online luxury and fashion. Today, the Group is a unique eco-system connecting more than 1 billion people every year with the joy of luxury and fashion that lasts a lifetime and beyond. Marchetti has forged important strategic alliances worldwide, including in 2012 a joint venture with the French luxury group Kering, in 2016 with Mohamed Alabbar, the most visionary entrepreneur in the Gulf and in 2018 with Alibaba in China, following YOOX NET-A-PORTER’s acquisition for over 6 billion US dollars by Richemont, one of the world’s leading luxury groups.
Notably Marchetti has brought his entrepreneurial spirit to the heart of his social and environmental initiatives, significantly advancing sustainable and socially responsible fashion.
Back in 2009 he launched YOOXYGEN, the sustainability platform with collaborations including Katherine Hamnett, Amber Valletta, Vivienne Westwood, Edun and Stella Jean. Around that time, Marchetti’s team developed YOOX’s “ECOBOX”, which is fully recyclable and plastic-free, and is now the standard across NET-A-PORTER, MR PORTER and THE OUTNET.
The YOOX NET-A-PORTER offices and wider operations are all fully aligned with Marchetti’s mission for sustainability, too: each location uses 100% renewable energy and in 2018 he commissioned Sir Nicholas Grimshaw to design the company’s new Tech Hub in London following the principles of enduring and sustainable design and including around 2,500 plants. In Milan, he unveiled a state-of-the-art distribution centre which reflects some innovative solutions for heating, waste consumption and building management, with deliveries in the region also powered by a fully electric fleet.
The customer experience has also been developed to become more sustainable and embrace circular models. Marchetti invented an AI-powered virtual dressing room that allows customers to try clothes using an avatar reducing returns and encouraging more conscious purchases and he’s currently rolling out Digital IDs for the Group’s private labels, offering transparency for customers, as well as assisting in garment care and repair, resale and recycling.
In 2021 His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales invited Marchetti to take on the role of Chair of HRH’s Fashion and Textiles Task Force for the Sustainable Markets Initiative. This follows the success of The Modern Artisan project between The Prince’s Foundation and YOOX NET-A-PORTER, a first of its kind training programme invented by Marchetti, promoting sustainable luxury design and craftsmanship through the use of data and technology.
Alongside sustainability, inclusion and diversity have been central to the ethical approach that Marchetti has adopted over the last twenty years. He runs a mentorship programme for aspiring entrepreneurs from backgrounds that are typically underrepresented in the industry and is a founding member of the Champions of Change Coalition Global Technology Group, which works to advance gender equality in the tech sector.
In 2020 Marchetti became the first non-family member to join the Giorgio Armani S.p.A Board of Directors as Independent Non-Executive Director. In 2017 Marchetti has been recognized by the President of the Italian Republic who knighted him as a Cavaliere.
At the end of 2020 Marchetti stepped down as CEO of YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP after announcing a succession plan at the beginning of the year ahead of his contract expiring in 2021. He remains Chairman for the transition period. He continues to drive a culture of sustainability at the Group and is boosting digital education within the next generation: more than 10,000 young people across Italy and the UK have benefitted from YOOX NET-A-PORTER’s digital education programmes since 2016.