In a crowded resale landscape, Grailed is the peer-to-peer marketplace preferred by hip, city-dwelling young men. Heroine, launching today, is for their mysterious, art school–dropout girlfriends (and their gender-bending confidantes, too).
Although both audiences share a love of obscure, high-end collectibles from brands like Comme des Garcons, Raf Simons, Rick Owens and Off-White, Heroine is not just “Grailed for women,” said brand director Kristen Dempsey, formerly of Dover Street Market.
“Heroine will be it’s own brand with it’s own voice and point of view,” added Grailed’s brand director Lawrence Schlossman, a menswear poster child of sorts.
The similarities between the two, however, outweigh any differentiation.
Like Grailed, which was founded by Arun Gupta in 2014, Heroine caters to a more niche market than competitors like The RealReal and ThredUp. While they highlight current trends, spanning many styles, demographics and price points, Heroine focuses on a mix of more minimalist and subtly strange pieces — Margiela tabi-toe boots and oversized overalls by Yohji Yomamoto. It’s a site for the “grails” of the world, a streetwear term that refers to a wearable item that is hard to come by and has appreciated in value since it first came out. Although prices run the gamut from $30 (a Dior t-shirt) to $9,000 (a Rick Owens fur jacket), the panache of the wearer is a precedent these other sites (which sell a range of comparably basic pieces from Zara to Chloé) don’t require.
Despite the gendered nature of each site, Dempsey and Schlossman make a point to stress their inclusivity — it being 2017, and all. “If there are men who are interested in womenswear, we hope that they’ll feel Heroine is a home for them, and visa versa,” said Dempsey. “We want the two sites to really work in tandem,” she added, further hinting that they’re not so different after all.
The site launched with 2,000 items that were listed by sellers (both Grailed users and friends of the brand), who were invited to take part in the beta stage using a special code. It was the prevalence of women on Grailed itself that inspired the launch, in the first place. “They felt that what Grailed provided was unique; it catered to their taste level in a way that other marketplaces for women didn’t,” said Dempsey.
Heroine separates all marketplace products into the same three strata as Grailed — Grail, Hype and Core — though the latter two have slightly different meanings. As on Grailed, Grail refers to high-end and collectible items. Hype, however, encompasses all street and sportswear, rather than just the latest drop, and Core is comprised of classic basics, excluding fast fashion. Unlike on the men’s site, fast fashion has been put on Heroine’s blacklist, given how many other women’s resale sites are already crowding that category (a phenomenon the team hasn’t experienced for men).
“Heroine is a blank slate, and we want to keep things very clean and easy to navigate — a beautiful shopping experience,” explained Dempsey. “By eliminating fast fashion brands, people will see a full page of items they’re really excited about, [instead of having to dig around for them].”
While Grailed is known for being streetwear-heavy, that won’t necessarily be the case for Heroine. The team wants to see what style becomes dominant organically, rather than forcing any one category on its users. “We are coming in at a level playing field,” said Dempsey.
The buying and selling functionalities, on the other hand, are identical to Grailed’s: Any user with a Heroine and Paypal account can upload items for sale, which will then be approved by Grailed’s moderators for authenticity and style. Heroine takes a six percent commission from each sale. Although Grailed has an app, Heroine’s is still in the works.
A snapshot of the product assortment on Heroine
Besides the unique assortment, Dempsey kept pointing to Heroine’s “enthusiast” culture as a rarity in the women’s resale space — one that will, ideally, educate consumers on the fashion industry and connect them to like-minded shoppers as much as it drives them to shop.
“We want to teach people why certain pieces are significant, and why some are collectible and others aren’t,” said Dempsey. They’ll do that with a content arm similar to Grailed’s Dry Clean Only blog called The Editorial, featuring one-off editorials and lengthy “master class” articles, on everything from fashion plagiarism to the designer Rei Kawakubo. There will also, inexplicably, be a recurring astrology section.
To foster dialog between users, all content and listings will be followed by a comments section.
The Heroine team currently counts four of the 30 people at Grailed’s Soho office in New York. As for how the company will determine success in year one, Dempsey said it won’t be dependent on hard numbers. “It’s more about the community we’re creating, and whether or not the people using the site feel it is serving them and speaking to their interests,” she said.