South China Morning Post
YOOX's early influence in sustainable fashion
by Leona Liu, November 1, 2020
Photography by David Needleman
As Yoox Net-a-Porter Group celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, could you describe the blueprint for the next two decades?
Technology can unlock a new era for fashion: more connected, more inspiring, more diverse, more empowering and more sustainable, with creative content and storytelling at its heart. Consumers, and particularly young consumers, want to shop with sustainable and socially conscious brands. They want to feel inspired. Consumers will choose products reflective of their lifestyle and inner world.
How will Covid-19 disrupt luxury and what are your plans for recovery?
At Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, we already work with artificial intelligence, augmented reality, big data and smart working. It has accelerated the blurring of online and offline. It is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs. In July, we announced our Next Era partnership with Armani, to revolutionise their customer experience by seamlessly integrating their physical and digital distribution channels. I think more luxury brands will realise that by fully embracing the digital world, they can unlock better content and connection with the customer.
What’s your view on China’s luxury market in the coming five to 10 years?
Chinese consumers will continue to lead the way in the global luxury market, particularly the younger Gen Y and Z. They are smart, curious fashion lovers who want to discover new brands, in particular emerging Chinese designers. The young Chinese customer is at the very forefront of the fashion industry, shaping the latest tastes and trends. Like young people around the world they interact, write, fall in love, have fun, listen to music, see movies and shop, all with their smartphones, and their use of e-commerce is very advanced. It is important for brands to give them dedicated attention. We are always thinking about how we can best inspire them through the brands we curate, the innovative content we create and the best-in-class services we develop.
What’s your perspective on digital versus bricks-and-mortar marketplaces?
I don’t believe physical stores will disappear, but I think the divide between online and offline is quickly becoming an idea of the past. Today’s physical stores will have to satisfy two values: safety and experience. They need to modernise faster than we’ve seen; they need to show greater recognition of the customer, with more technology embedded and be more information-driven. It is the pursuit of a seamless integration between online and offline, an ecosystem in constant communication, where technology enhances the customer experience.
Compared to millennials, do you employ a different strategy for Gen Z?
Absolutely. We became leaders because we put customers at the centre of our universe and we never stop innovating. Not only do we learn from our customers, about their preferences, their motivations, their passions, but we also put ourselves in their shoes and we dream about what we would like to see in the future. And then we create it! We have a strong team of young, local, professional talent in China with a passion for growth and the pioneering spirit to deliver the best luxury fashion shopping experience. The energy of Gen Z for reinvention combined with a passion about ethics, the planet, fairness and humanity will enable the fashion industry to thrive for many years to come.
As a believer in sustainability, what do you think the fashion industry can do to help with environmental issues?
Yoox was an early model of circularity in fashion and I placed sustainability at the heart of our business in 2009. Companies are expected to act responsibly; not simply reducing their impact, but being proactive in making the world a better place. I think there is a misconception that design, style and luxury do not align with sustainability – to me it is the opposite, luxury customers tend to buy and keep their items for many years and in many cases pass them onto the next generation. As well as advancing sustainability within our own business, our approach has been to use our global platform to champion other brands taking a cutting-edge approach to sustainability.
What have you ever bought that you regretted buying?
This year, for Easter, instead of buying my daughter chocolate eggs, because the shops were closed for lockdown, we bought her some real chicks to hatch instead. Now we have a fully grown rooster who crows very early in the morning – but in the end I don’t regret it either because I love early mornings.
Originally published in SCMP