One of our favorite online fashion start-ups to debut this year, Of a Kind, offers unique, limited-edition clothing and accessories from up-and-coming independent designers on a weekly basis. Everything Of a Kind carries is exclusive to the site, comes in a numbered edition of 5 to 50 pieces, and launches in conjunction with an online editorial, featuring the designers’ stories, their style picks, and what inspires them.
We sat down with Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo, the site’s founders, to find out how things got started, and what they believe makes for a successful fashion start-up.
The High Low: How did you initially go about approaching designers to create limited edition pieces for the site? And how did they react?
Claire and Erica: When we first started contacting designers, we were reaching out to them from our personal Gmail addresses, and we were shocked (shocked!) that people responded to us. Designers like Mandy Coon and Matt Singer (who we’ve featured on the site) wrote back to those early emails, and their enthusiasm made us feel even more confident in the concept of the site: these designers clearly needed new, better ways to connect with an audience.
Tucker made this silk tank in a 25-piece edition exclusively for Of a Kind.
HL: How do you look for new designers with whom to partner?
C & E: First off, we look for designers we love and believe our readers would love–their work has to speak to us aesthetically, and we have to feel that this designer is doing something unique and personal, not just following a trend. We’re lucky enough to have some designers contact us on their own because they love the concept, but we do much of the approaching ourselves.
HL: We’ve seen a number of interesting online retail start-ups launch this year. In your opinion, what helps most to make one successful?
C & E: We’re into sites that have a strong point of view. When you visit sites like Fab.com or Mr. Porter, you immediately get a sense of what they’re all about, and the curation is really strong. We hope people feel the same way when they come to Of a Kind. And, of course, we’re strong believers in editorial and are psyched to see more and more e-commerce sites going down that road.
Don’t worry, Of a Kind offers picks for the guys, too — and who among them wouldn’t appreciate this natty tie bar?
HL: We’ve loved some of the holiday product you’ve launched. Do you have any more holiday season plans coming up?
C & E: In November, we started releasing two editions a week, and we hope that this makes holiday shopping easier—more editions to choose from, hopefully allowing you to cross more people off your list at once.
Just in time for your holiday party, the site paired with designer Claire Vivier to offer wine tags. They’d also make a great hostess gift.
HL: Where do you see Of a Kind going next?
C & E: We want designers to be able to offer more product to our audience and, in turn, for visitors to the site to engage with our designers long-term. So for 2012, we’re developing a platform that will allow designers to upload more pieces to the site. It’s really exciting to think about expanding what we do.