Justin Hruska, a sneaker collector with a background in tech, wasn’t satisfied with his online shopping experience. Oftentimes he would visit larger e-commerce sites and feel shortchanged because he knew he wasn’t seeing everything a brand had to offer, which meant he had to visit other sites to find what he was looking for.
“A lot of brands use wholesale for awareness and put their best-selling products on their own site,” said Hruska. “So the consumer has to jump through all these hoops before they can purchase a $300 sweatshirt. With Seam, we want to reimagine what that looks like.”
Seam is a men’s and women’s shopping app set to launch this summer that was cofounded by Hruska, the chief executive officer, and Jake Woolf, the editorial director. Nate Brown, who cofounded Studio Institute, a creative firm that’s worked with artists including Beyoncé and Jay Z on tour visuals, is a partner and a strategic adviser who worked helped design the app.
Similar to Farfetch, Seam will serve as a marketplace, but instead of partnering with boutiques, Seam works directly with brands and designers and the app will mirror the product available on their e-commerce sites. Woolf said because Seam holds no inventory and doesn’t operate a physical space, it is able to cut the typical commission fee that similar e-commerce sites take — around 20 to 35 percent — in half.
“Because of how some brands are set up financially, they can’t afford to wholesale product. We are giving them the perfect opportunity to be in a retailer environment without sacrificing those margins,” said Woolf.
The founders opted for an app over an e-commerce site based on a growing number of consumers shopping on their smartphones. They wanted to maintain a direct, steady connection with the customer. Users are able to like and dislike product, select their favorite brands and opt in to receive notifications when a brand drops a collection or restocks. Seam will offer brands access to data on how users are interacting with their assortments to help inform merchandising and design decisions. Hruska said as time goes on, this data will also help them personalize each user’s shopping experience based on their preferences.
“A lot of brands don’t have the ability to directly hit someone’s phone when something is dropping and with the Instagram algorithm, by the time a person sees these types of notifications the collection can be sold out,” said Woolf.
Seam will launch with 30 to 40 brands — they declined to disclose which designers would be on the app, but said to expect a mix of the brands one would see in top retailers. Sixty percent of the assortment is dedicated to men and 40 percent is women’s. They hope to feature up to 1,000 brands at some point, but always want to offer a curated shopping experience.
Woolf, who previously worked at GQ, is heading up the content vertical within the app and is focused on storytelling that could exist on any platform and doesn’t feel as if it’s selling product.
Going forward, Woolf and Hruska plan to explore revenue streams that aren’t relegated to product transactions and physical activations. Both believe there is a bigger movement toward brands wanting to sell directly to their consumer — see Nike’s growing list of apps — and consumers wanting a shopping experience that doesn’t require a lot of work.
“Each brand is trying to create their own thing and we support that completely, but we also acknowledge the fact that it would be much more seamless to put it in one space,” said Woolf. “Guys are interested in all of their favorite drops, and even for the diehard fashion consumer, it’s hard to keep up with everything.”