Greg Selkoe has a new retail venture.
The Karmaloop founder has partnered with Paul Judge and Cedric Rogers, both Silicon Valley veterans, to build Curateurs, a new men’s online retail concept.
Curateurs, which launches today, highlights cultural influencers who curate galleries where they sell things they own, things they like and things they’ve created with brands, which sometimes are their own.
“Kanye used to shop on Karmaloop and when we would send out an e-mail that showed what he bought, those items would sell out immediately,” said Selkoe. “We all see the power of celebrity and the power of fashion influencers.”
From Selkoe’s purview, the consumer is either shopping based on price and frequenting fast-fashion stores, or based on an aspirational lifestyle, which is what Curateurs provides.
For the launch, Curateurs has tapped rapper A$AP Ferg, creative director Jeff Staple, and singer Ryan Leslie to select a wide range of items for their galleries. In addition to apparel and accessories from his Staple Pigeon brand, Staple is also selling his own Maison Margiela watch bracelet for $400 and a piece of artwork from Micah Spear for $12,000. Leslie’s gallery features a Steinway Baby Grand piano that’s going for $65,000. New Curateurs will be added to the site weekly — future ones include rappers Raekwon and Nipsey Hussle — and each gallery will exist for a limited period of time.
Each influencer’s gallery also showcases videos, images and a longform profile. Judge likened the format to an online version of MTV’s popular show “Cribs,” but with a commerce component. Shoppers are also able to save items they like to their community profile, upload images and make comments.
“We both realized that the way men wanted to shop is changing,” said Judge, who had the idea for the site. “They are asking, ‘What was that thing Westbrook wore? What’s that hat that Lebron is wearing?’ It’s so much more about a look versus a brand and we wanted to build a shopping experience based on that.”
The influencers receive 70 percent from the sale of their own things and they make a smaller commission when customers purchase items the influencers like. Curateurs doesn’t utilize affiliate links. Instead the retailer works directly with vendors but holds very little inventory. According to Judge, sometimes Curateurs takes possession of the items and ships them and other times the brand handles distribution.
Before launching, Curateurs purchased UpscaleHype, a site founded by Allen and Kyle Onyia in 2008, that posts pictures of celebrities along with links to purchase the products they are wearing.
The sites will operate separately, but Judge said there are plans to launch an app that will integrate content from both sites. There are also plans for a bricks-and-mortar experience and they are getting advice from Steve Birkhold, the former chief executive officer at Bebe who joined Cushman & Wakefield last year, on building out physical retail. Birkhold is an advisor in the business.
Judge, who met Selkoe at an event in Silicon Valley, is currently the sole investor in Curateurs. Selkoe told WWD that after leaving Karmaloop, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last March and was sold to Comvest last May, he received different offers and was even asked to rejoin the team when it was purchased by Shiekh Shoes earlier this year, but he wanted to do something different.
“I want to try something new,” said Selkoe. “I’ve always been a fan of integrating commerce with content and using influencers, which we did at Karmaloop. So us meeting was kind of serendipitous.”