Chinese e-commerce company JD.com has invested US$397m in Farfetch, a marketplace for luxury brands, in a strategic partnership designed to create a premier platform for luxury e-commerce across China, opening a gateway to an $80bn market.

As part of the move, JD.com will become one of the largest shareholders of Farfetch, with founder and CEO Richard Liu, joining the Farfetch board.

The companies will partner on marketing, logistics and technology solutions to build the brand in China, while Farfetch will continue to be the customer-facing brand.

Farfetch, the retail portal that brings together high-end boutiques from around the globe, already has well-established operations in China, partnering with around 200 luxury brands and more than 500 multi-brand retailers.

Meanwhile, the new partnership will work to connect Farfetch partner brands' physical retail stores in China with consumers.

"We are deeply honoured and excited to be announcing this partnership with Richard Liu and JD.com," says José Neves, founder and CEO of Farfetch. "China is the world's second largest luxury market, and we are delighted to have such a respected partner, known for its strict protection of IP, with whom to address Chinese luxury consumers.

"This partnership addresses the market's challenges by combining the Farfetch brand and curation with the scale and influence of the foremost Chinese e-commerce giant. This strategic partnership will provide brands a seamless, immediate access to the luxury consumer and Chinese luxury shoppers with access to the greatest selection of luxury in the omni-channel way of life they have already fully embraced."

The joint efforts between the two companies will also include leveraging BlackDragon, a digital marketing technology platform powering entities across retail, e-commerce, tech, finance, travel, education and auto, and grant Farfetch users in China access to a variety of services from JD Finance. 

The announcement comes as JD is placing a greater focus on high-end luxury and fashion to match the huge demand among its upwardly mobile customers.

"As part of our major luxury push, we could not have found a stronger online partner than Farfetch," adds Liu. "We have always believed that the long-term trend of Chinese e-commerce is towards quality over price and this partnership with Farfetch further extends our lead in the battle for the future of China's upwardly mobile consumers. We look forward to deepening our relationships with Farfetch and luxury brands in the months and years ahead."