What happened:

The Farfetch-owned New Guards Group (NGG), which also owns “It” streetwear brands Off-White and Palm Angles, has acquired the American clothing brand and retailer Opening Ceremony on January 13, as reported by BoF.

Opening Ceremony cofounders, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, will remain as co-creative directors, focusing on collaborations and will continue to create their in-house label, while NGG will take over the production of Opening Ceremony’s in-house line and e-commerce development. The goal, according to BoF, is to release products at a faster pace and expand product categories.

Background:

For Chinese millennials, Opening Ceremony is still regarded as a NYC streetwear brand. On Little Red Book, for example, users continue to post “It” items from the brand, from tote bags to Opening Ceremony’s iconic black box-logo T-shirts. The majority of the posts are from Chinese international students, who are considered trendsetters for mainland shoppers.

Photo: ‘Opening Ceremony’ search results on Little Red Book.

Opening Ceremony’s acquisition by the New Guards Group verified its cool status, as NGG has been snapping up hot brands since the beginning of the year. Just last week, it’s also acquired the jewelry brand Ambush. The hype machine NGG was founded in 2015 and was acquired by Farfetch four years later for $675 million.

What’s driving Farfetch to make so many acquisitions? “NGG’s growth comes from a gut feeling and understanding where a trend was going or what the talent is out there,” explained Giorgio Belloli, Chief Commercial and Sustainability Officer at Farfetch to Jing Daily. “But through our data analysis we can spot new trends or new brands that may be coming up, validating some feelings that a brand could be the ‘brand of the future.’”

Analysis:

Farfetch, and consequently NGG, is proving to be a key player beyond helping brands to sell online. It’s now transitioning from relying on other brands for revenue and instead building and empowering some of today’s most-hyped brands with the help of data. In parallel, we saw another e-commerce giant in China, Alibaba’s Tmall, launch Little Black Box program, which is also dedicated to helping launch new brands.

All in all, as brands increasingly go to D2C for their distribution channels, third party e-commerce may struggle to survive unless they revamp their role — otherwise, they will also be soon rid of facing competition coming from brands themselves.





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