Men’s fashion has changed a lot in the past decade, and Arun Gupta sees it changing still.
Led by a young male consumer obsessed with streetwear, a new interest in fashion has led the popular success of sites like Grailed, which Gupta founded in 2013 as a marketplace and community platform for “super enthusiasts,” like himself. But already the culture is moving beyond streetwear.
“The men’s clothing movement, it being acceptable for men to care more about the clothes they wear, has been building for the past 10 years,” Gupta said. “But streetwear is the last phase of it.”
Already on Grailed, he said the inventory is about evenly split between streetwear and fashion, possibly a sign that the realm is cooling off a bit. And then there’s the split between the two types of fashion consumers Gupta is seeing.
“One is the consumer who buys to wear it, then there’s the consumer buying to flip it,” Gupta said. “It’s very prevalent in sneakers and now very prevalent in streetwear and it’s pretty unique to the ecosystem.”
He compared the level of resale with a brand like Celine, where new items have been slow to appear on Grailed and a brand like Supreme, which shows up immediately after new items are released.
“Supreme drops at 11:00 and at 11:01, Grailed is flooded with it,” Gupta said.
Clearly, the value proposition of fashion is fickle and depends on a given consumer moment, but Grailed is already thinking beyond its marketplace. The company has been getting more into content creation of its own, with editorialized imagery and brand partnerships and sections of news, interviews and lifestyle on its site. And Gupta is weighing working more closely with brands that are eager for access to insights into his shoppers and audience.
A foray into traditional retail seems to be on the way, too. There’s a week-long pop-up coming in L.A. focused on archival pieces, a first for the company, and conversations happening with retail partners. But Gupta is also thinking about permanent retail, like a space in New York’s SoHo neighborhood where Grailed is headquartered.
“Someone joked the other day ‘Are you even an Internet company if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store?’ And I think that’s so true now,” Gupta said. “It’s ridiculous but it’s great.”