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What is Grailed? CEO Arun Gupta Talks Men's Cult Labels and Reselling Culture

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Photo: Adam Fraser / Grailed

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A lot has been said lately about men and how they buy clothes. According to a recent survey conducted by fashion PR firm The Boutique @ Ogilvy, men are spending more time and money on shopping for clothes than women. This information won't exactly surprise you if you've visited a major shopping hub recently: All it takes is a walk down Lafayette Street in SoHo or Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake to see that men are paying close attention to how they dress. The savviest of the bunch are shopping online at sites like MR PORTER, Yoox, Farfetch, SSENSE and Très Bien — all retailers that all cater to an informed and sophisticated customer. But there is a new shopping destination making big waves in the online marketplace: Grailed.

At its core, Grailed is a simple concept: It's a website and app for buying and selling high-end, secondhand menswear and streetwear. But the site offers much more. You can buy a piece you've been searching high and low for, stock up on basics you need for the office, and discover new brands all in the same place.

Grailed's clean design and simple functionality make the experience about the product in a way that's inclusive and not intimidating. The three categories — grailed (highly sought after pieces from well known designers and labels), hype (streetwear and new releases), and basics (vintage and mass market brands) — are easy to navigate, whether you're looking for something specific or just browsing. The labels for sale speak for themselves: Supreme, Nike, and Palace sit next to vintage Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, and Number (N)ine. Reselling here isn't just for the thrifty — it allows fashion enthusiasts to shop more and experiment with new looks and designers, within a community of like-minded people. Before Grailed, these brands were being resold amongst devout followers, but on nerdy, hard-to-decipher forums and eBay pages unearthed only through deep keyword searches. Grailed has taken this practice, streamlined it for the diehard shopper, and made it accessible to the more mainstream, casual consumer.

To find out more, I spoke with founder and CEO Arun Gupta about the Grailed shopper, how the site has built a following, and where Grailed — and shopping in general — is headed in the future.

Grailed Street Style Bomber Jacket Photo: Adam Fraser/ Grailed

What kind of guy is using Grailed and what are they buying?

The Grailed guy is generally very purposeful about the clothing they wear. Sometimes they are looking for luxury items at affordable prices and other times they are looking for a better deal than they could find in the mall. Some are looking to add to their collections. Though they have a range of styles, Grailed users are typically savvy consumers who realize their dollar goes twice as far in a community marketplace such as ours.

Grailed is making something that was once nerdy and insider-y much easier for the layman to use and understand. Do you think the site is helping people seek out new brands and try new things?

It makes trying new things much less risky. Previously if I wanted to try out an A.P.C. coat it would have run me ~$600 at a boutique. Now you can find that same coat (and others like it) on Grailed for less than $200. Plus if you don't end up liking it for whatever reason, you can always resell it to someone else and make your money back.

The homepage feed also makes it extremely easy to scroll for pages and discover new brands. Everything on Grailed has been curated twice: Once by the buyer who purchased it in the store, and then a second time by us when they post it to the website. This process results in the Grailed catalog being only the most desirable items so it's pretty fun to scroll through.

How does the site's relationships with people like Ian Connor help brand awareness?

Ian represents a new generation of fashion conscious youth. These days more and more young people are expressing their personalities through the clothes they wear. Our mission is to help people find and afford pieces that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. That is something that definitely resonates with Ian and the youth consumer, which has absolutely contributed to our growth.

Supreme Jacket on Grailed Street Style Photo: Adam Fraser / Grailed
Can you explain the concept behind the Grailed 100?

The Grailed 100 was our first opportunity to showcase our voice and demonstrate our taste as a company. We collected 100 of the most sought after menswear pieces from recent history and shot our own editorial and product photography. We released them for sale at grailed.com/100, highlighting the details and stories of why these pieces are relevant. In essence it was a distilled version of what our marketplace represents: clothes you've always wanted, at a price that is surprisingly affordable.

Is this the new way to shop? Are people OK with paying a little more to not wait in a line? Are they OK with paying less to wear something that is slightly used?

Grailed is definitely a different way to shop for a lot of people. We see much less of a stigma towards buying used, a sentiment that has definitely grown in the past few years as more and more people shop second hand. Not to mention, a community like ours really respects the garments themselves, which is evident in every piece that changes hands.

Our users see real value in buying items at lower prices and also being able to find pieces from past seasons that they may have missed. Even if something is still out of their price range it's easy to defray the cost by selling a piece they don't wear anymore. The reselling culture is a different animal, but it's pretty clear from the success of our Hype section that plenty of people are willing to pay a bit above retail for convenience and availability.