Online retailer Farfetch has bought Browns, an iconic London boutique known for pioneering bridal and menswear in the '60s. Farfetch plans to build the location into the "Store of the Future," a pilot program for new retail technology.
Farfetch will test new digital concepts in the store, including ways to manage inventory and evaluate shoppers' needs, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The sale marks the end of Browns as a family-owned brand, bringing the company into the online world.
Farfetch launched in 2008, combining 300 fashion boutiques around the world into a single virtual department store. The e-retailer's model has given shoppers a way to find rare runway looks and sizes, and it provides a means by which small boutiques can attract a global following.
Though specifics were not disclosed, the sale included a mix of cash and shares. Holli Rogers, formerly a buyer for Net-a-Porter, will become CEO, and Sandrine Devaux, from chain store Harvey Nichols, will oversee the Store of the Future.
The store will utilize RFID and near field communication (NFC), allowing consumers to shop from their home or hotel room with mobile payment technology.
Infusing emerging technology into retail is not new for Farfetch. Last year the company launched Discover, a shoppable tour guide app intended to merge the online and brick-and-mortar experience in fashion-friendly cities around the world. And in 2014, Farfetch was on Fast Company's list of the world's most innovative companies alongside big names such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Warby Parker.
-See this Wall Street Journal article
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