As great as the web is, I still haven’t been able to kick my habit for buying fashion and lifestyle magazines off the newsstand. One of the things I love the most about monthly glossies are features like Vanity Fair’s My Stuff and Us Weekly’s What’s In My Bag, in which notable people reveal the exact products that they actually buy and use (celebrity chef David Chang uses Sensodyne toothpaste and wears Levi’s jeans, FYI.) It’s just compelling to find out more about people through their stuff.
The folks at New York-based startup Vaunte think so too, and in fact, they think this kind of voyeuristic editorial approach could be the next generation of luxury e-commerce. Vaunte has created a web platform where notable people (think starlets, fashionable executives, designers, and socialites) show off the stuff in their closets — and put things up for sale. Vaunte started off as purely a consignment market that takes 30 percent commission for photographing and shipping seller’s items, but it has since expanded to also sell new versions of the items people show off.
Though Vaunte has made a splash in the fashion news space since its November 2012 launch, it has flown under the radar in the tech and business press. But now for the first time, the company is revealing a bit more on the corporate side. TechCrunch sat down this week with Gilt Groupe veteran Leah Park and engineer/entrepreneur Andy Shin, two of Vaunte’s three co-founders — the third, ex Gilt Grouper Christian Leone, was in Los Angeles working on a Vaunte photoshoot — to talk a bit more about what Vaunte is and what’s in its future (video embedded below.)First, some numbers: Vaunte has raised $1.125 million in seed funding from Battery Ventures, Maveron, and fashion and retail mogul Christopher Burch. The company has a staff of nine, but is set to expand as it moves into a 6,000 square foot space in Manhattan that will serve as office space and inventory storage. Based on just word of mouth and a few press mentions, Vaunte has grown to 60,000 members and done more than half a million dollars in transactional revenue since launching in November.
The big news going forward is that with the launch of its upcoming mobile app scheduled for this summer, Vaunte is set to open up its platform to let anyone display and sell their clothing and accessories on the site. These users will be charged less of a commission than the higher-profile sellers, since they will be responsible for taking their own photos. There is a significant amount of additional technology that Vaunte’s team had to build to make this app scalable to taking items from the general public — quality control on the photos that are taken and having to verify that luxury items are genuine, for example.
It’s an expansion that will put Vaunte in an interesting intersection in the existing e-commerce market — its competitors will now range from Net-a-Porter to The RealReal to Poshmark to Threadflip and more.
Personally, I’m excited to see what Vaunte has in store for its future. The first time I opened the site this week, I had one thought: “Uh oh. I am going to spend so much money here.” I’d imagine that I’m not alone.
Park and Shin stopped by the TechCrunch TV studio to discuss Vaunte’s vision and give us an early look at the new mobile experience. Check it all out below: