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Why Grailed Is Shuttering Its Women’s Site

The resale player, in which Goat is a lead investor, announced plans to close its Heroine offshoot this week.
Images from Heroine's instagram. Instagram @Heroine.
Images from Heroine's instagram. Instagram @Heroine.

On Tuesday, Grailed, the streetwear-focused men’s resale site, announced it would wind down its womenswear site, Heroine. Listings will be available until Nov. 9, after which buyers will no longer be able to place offers or make purchases.

Heroine launched in 2017, four years after Grailed, with the intent to cater to a subset of women that dabbled in streetwear but were partial to ‘90s-esque minimalism, relying more on vintage Helmut Lang and Lemaire as a sartorial compass than Supreme’s latest collections. That corner of the market, however, failed to take off. Women looking to buy or sell streetwear more often went to Grailed directly and those looking for ‘90s Prada pieces looked to sites like Vestiaire Collective or The RealReal.

“There are more women on Grailed than on Heroine,” said the company in an email announcing the closure, citing that 68 percent of users on Heroine were also active on Grailed. “As the resale community continues to evolve, we see a need to invest more deeply in building out first-in-class tools and user experiences under one unified platform.”

Though one of the first high-profile closures in the resale space, the move isn’t a sign of trouble for Grailed. In September the company announced a $60 million funding Series B funding round led by Goat Group, the parent company of fellow streetwear resale sites Goat and Fight Club.

Instead, it’s a reallocation of resources. With a not-insignificant female customer base active on Grailed itself, the company decided it was better to focus its efforts.

“We are excited to expand Grailed even further as more female users turn to us for their streetwear, luxury and vintage fashion needs,” said Jon Dobrowolski, vice president of product management at Grailed, in a statement to BoF. He added that Grailed would “continue to develop more ways for our community to further personalise their user experience no matter what sort of items they’re looking for.”

But with a fresh funding round and new investors (which also includes Gucci chief executive Marco Bizzarri), Grailed will have to bolster its offering to prove it can last. Growing competition within the resale market has heightened the need for a strong brand perspective and made gender increasingly irrelevant across resale categories, particularly when it comes to streetwear

“As the sector grows, there’s going to be an increasing amount of new competitors,” said Simeon Siegel, managing director and senior analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “It’s only natural as companies test out their level of involvement in resale, there will be fits and starts.”

More Competition

When Grailed launched in 2013, it was virtually alone in the men’s streetwear resale market. Goat and StockX debuted in 2009 and 2015 respectively, but both largely focused on sneakers. With that, Grailed was able to attract a following for its focus on then-niche menswear trends like Junya Watanabe or Hedi Slimane’s Dior collections.

The company aimed to do the same thing with Heroine, creating a female counterpart for its upscale streetwear identity. “We want it to be something that can stand on its own and that’s why coming up with a brand from scratch was so crucial to the whole thing,” said then-creative director Lawrence Schlossman in an interview with Hypebae announcing the site’s launch. (Schlossman, who declined to comment, left the company in May of 2020.)

But as resale continues to boom, the market has evolved. Beyond Goat’s investment in Grailed, Etsy acquired Depop earlier this year in order to capitalise on the demand and consolidate power and knowledge within the space. Brands, too, are working to take back a share of the resale market and investors are increasingly backing niche categories like kidswear and outdoor apparel. Meanwhile, Grailed’s competitors have ballooned and expanded into new categories — Goat and StockX have moved into everything from toys to trading cards, leading both to claim multi-billion dollar valuations this year.

Grailed, however, has largely stuck to the same trends and niche audiences. In some ways, the strategy has worked: the site had seven million users and over three million listings in September. But that fanbase is small compared to its competitors: Goat reported approximately 30 million active users earlier this year; StockX reported 200 million visitors last year.

Increased competition coupled with new expectations from investors means Grailed will have to strengthen its core business and tackle expansion thoughtfully. That will be made easier when it consolidates marketing, authentication and other services under one roof as opposed to two separate categories.

“It’s a difficult proposition to be all things to all people, as opposed to doing one thing really well,” Dominic Rose, former chief operating officer of Depop, told BoF in August. “There’s value in community and building deep resonance.”

StockX and The RealReal provide a blueprint. Both have avoided launching separate sites for female customers, choosing instead to offer users a seamless way to shop across categories and gendered options. The number of female users on Grailed points to a growing interest among women in streetwear categories as well as a rise in genderless fashion options. So rather than pulling Heroine’s offering entirely, it will likely be repurposed within Grailed’s main platform.

Whether Grailed can meet and expand its offering to female users on its site as it scales, however, remains to be seen.

“As long as there’s one player with dollars to spend consolidation will begin,” said Siegel.

Guide to Fashion Resale

Related Articles:

The Future of Fashion Resale

After a Record-Breaking Year, What’s Next for Men’s Resale?

The Next Generation of Resale Sites

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