JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce company, just announced to the public an ambitious plan to advance its position in the flourishing luxury and fashion industry through a $397 million deal with the global luxury e-tailer Farfetch.
The move was not the most natural-seeming fit for JD.com, which hasn’t primarily been known as a purveyor of fashion and luxury goods. Launched in 1998, it made its mark through the sale of high-quality tech goods and for the authenticity of its products.
In recent years, with the maturing of the fashion industry in China, and rival Alibaba aggressively entering the field with strategic deals with luxury powerhouses Louis Vuitton and Burberry, JD.com’s embrace of the fashion and luxury industries was maybe only a matter of time.
To help our readers understand the steps JD.com has taken to ready itself to play a bigger role in this field, here’s a timeline that tracks the company’s major moves in the luxury and fashion market:
June 1998: Founder Liu Qiangdong establishes a company called “Jingdong” that mainly sells optical drives.
January 2004: Jingdong becomes an e-commerce company and launches an official website.
January 2014: JD.com becomes a Nasdaq-listed public company, raising $1.8 billion in the initial public offering (IPO).
May 2015: LVMH-owned cosmetics retailer Sephora and luxury eyewear conglomerate Luxottica launch official stores on JD.com. (Earlier that same year, Alibaba had announced partnerships with Burberry and Calvin Klein).
September 2015: During Milan Fashion Week, the company partners with the organizer of shows to debut an “Italian Fashion Mall” on JD.com.
February 2016: JD.com brings young emerging Chinese fashion designers to host runway shows during New York Fashion Week. The company’s high-level executives also revealed a plan to sign with more American fashion brands on the site.
September 2016: The company once again selects a number of young Chinese fashion designers to attend fashion week, this time in London.
February 2017: JD.com creates a new online channel named “JD Fashion” which sells products from big-name brands like Armani, Swarovski and Zenith.
May 2017: Zhang Zetian, the wife of the JD.com’s CEO Liu Qiangdong, hosts a private fashion party that was attended by fashion icon Iris Apfel as well as executives from fashion and luxury brands including Tiffany & Co. She is becoming known as the unofficial face of JD Fashion.
June 2017: In an effort to cater to luxury shoppers on JD.com, the site launches its “white glove” delivery service that has men in tuxedos bringing customers their orders.
June 2017: With the $397-million purchase, the company becomes one of the largest shareholders of Farfetch, the prominent British luxury e-commerce website, and makes known its intentions to become a major player in fashion and luxury.