Interview with Grailed Founder Arun Gupta

image from Grailed Instagram feed

Grailed has become one of the best websites to buy sought-after¬†menswear online.¬†¬†While heads still scour eBay, Japanese auction sites and¬†online message boards to find ‘grail’¬†designer items, Grailed¬†has made the process easier to navigate for many. The site adds over 20,000 new listings each month featuring everything from street wear staples by NSW¬†and Supreme to hard to find designer brands like Yohji Yamamoto and Saint Laurent.¬†¬†I spoke with the site’s founder Arun Gupta about the progress of the site, it’s future and what the community of Grailed has come to represent.

How did Grailed first come together and how were you able to find both buyers/sellers at launch? Do you remember what some of the first listings were?

As a broke college student I was spending a lot of time looking for deals on the Styleforum marketplace and other forum classifieds. I was browsing multiple times a day picking up raw denim and scandinavian knitwear. As much as I loved it there were a few things that really bugged me; the images were so tiny and took forever to load in a larger size.
I wanted the Styleforum marketplace to be 10x more popular than it was. I realized that would never happen unless there was a dedicated marketplace for it. That’s why I made Grailed.
Initially the buyers and seller came from the forums, because that was the culture I grew up in. Consequently we had a really great mix of product on the site. We had workwear and Japanese denim being posted by Styleforum guys, avant garde/dark pieces from the Sufu/SZ crowd and a ton of knitwear and shirts from /r/malefashionadvice.
I remember one of the very first listings was this beautiful 10sei0otto leather jacket that I wanted so badly but couldn’t afford.

How has the site grown in the last year? What type of volume in listings and sales are you experiencing at the site now?

The last year has been amazing for us. The sheer volume of items being posted now is incredible. If you visit the homepage now and then come back 20 minutes later there will be at least 10 new items at the top. We’re seeing about 20,000 items being posted per month. The great thing is the quality of the items has remained consistently very high. And we have our fantastic community to thank for that.

Have you had many issues with scammers or other disputes between users? What role does the Grailed staff in moderating these issues?

It happens occasionally. All transactions on the site are run through PayPal, which has great buyer and seller protection. So there isn’t a risk of losing your money or jawnz. Most of the scams happen when sellers try to take the transaction outside of Grailed. Grailed is free to use so there really isn’t any reason to do that unless you want to circumvent the protection. If someone asks you to pay them outside of Grailed because of ‘vague reasons’ they’re trying to scam you.

One of the best parts about forum culture was that you could vet sellers through their reputation in the community and even meet people with similar interests whom you had only spoken with online prior. How important is community building to Grailed and in what ways have you tried to push along this process?

It’s the most important thing. Grailed only exists because of the great people who use it. If the users weren’t continually posting fire the homepage would suck to browse. If people were being mean to each other it wouldn’t be a fun place to hang out. Thankfully the average Grailed user is a nice guy with great taste.

What are some of the craziest listings you’ve seen on the site. Any personal grails you’ve seen posted or that you’ve purchased through the site?

We’ve definitely seen some insane stuff come through the site. A lot of really rare archive pieces from the likes of Raf Simons, Rick Owens, and Helmut Lang get posted regularly. Two of the craziest things I’ve personally seen would have to be the Carol Christian Poell Box original box jeans that stand on their own and the Raf X Sterling Ruby hand bleached over coat.
My ultimate grail has always been this pair of Visvim FBTs.  I was literally looking for them for almost 2 years. When they finally popped up on the site I grabbed them.

What’s next for you and the site?

iPhone app.

You can check out Grailed for yourself by heading to their website.