Online-Only Fashion Startup Cuyana Partners With Real Simple Magazine

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Cuyana, the San Francisco e-commerce startup that makes responsibly produced apparel and accessories, has inked a yearlong partnership with Real Simple magazine to make a total of four collections targeted at the magazine’s readership.

In an interview this week, Cuyana co-founder Karla Gallardo told me that both companies will share the revenue on products sold under the partnership.

“On the Cuyana side, we’re designing, manufacturing, and fulfilling e-commerce orders. Real Simple will be sharing this with their subscriber base of 8 million readers offline and 2 million online visitors,” she said. “It really leverages what each one of us is great at.”

It’s an interesting deal — typically, the relationship between fashion brands and magazines is a bit more circuitous. Brands design and manufacture their products, and show them to the press during fashion weeks, look books, and in other venues, in the hopes that they will be featured in a magazine’s editorial sections and get exposure to their readership. Magazines make the bulk of their money by having their ad sales teams work to sell advertising spaces to many of those same fashion brands. The financial relationship has always been there, but it’s been much less overt than what Cuyana and Real Simple have established here.

Gallardo says that this is just another way that her business is looking to do things a bit more, well, simply. “On the production side, we innovated on the supply chain and we went direct to source. On the sales side, we’ve gone direct to consumer. And what we’re doing now is going direct to publisher. We’re reducing friction and reducing players in these industries,” she said.

As for Cuyana as a business, the company will continue to create its own standalone collections over the next year, aside from the new Real Simple brand. Gallardo tells me the company, which has raised $1.7 million from Canaan Partners, has grown its sales by 10X over the past year, and doubled its staff to nearly 10 full-time employees and 25 contractors.

The news today is an innovative set up that we could see more of in the future. As more new retail and merchandising companies crop up that cut out layers of historical middlemen, it would not be very surprising to see more innovation on the often byzantine press and marketing side of things as well.