Italic might best be described as a “post-brand” brand.
By conventional standards, it goes through the same motions as any other online marketplace, seeking out manufacturers and choosing partners to sell items through its platform.
But, by pledging to eliminate brand markup and give manufacturers a greater piece of the pie, Italic is creating a new kind of marketplace where quality trumps brand name—because there aren’t any.
“When you buy brand-name products, the majority of what you actually pay for is the marketing—not the design, materials or craftsmanship,” Jeremy Cai, founder and CEO of Italic, said. “Brands have sustained this illusion for decades now, with their customers buying heavily marked-up items and their manufacturers only taking a tiny fraction of each sale.”
So Italic took a different slant.
“We created Italic to introduce a new model of commerce that removes brands and instead aligns with the best interest of its consumers and manufacturers,” Cai said. “Our manufacturers gain freedom while making more money, and our consumers who like nice things but don’t like paying a premium for a name finally have an option.”
Cai and Italic procured $13 million in funding from Comcast Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Ludlow Ventures, among others, to officially launch the platform on Nov. 15. Those who wish to use Italic must sign up for the waitlist and be invited by the platform. Early-adopters will be able to do so for free, but Italic says it will charge $120 a year for membership after 2018. Italic members will be able to buy up to two items a month using the marketplace.
Items available from Italic at launch include handbags from factories that have produced for Prada, Christian Louboutin and Givenchy, sheets and blankets from the makers of Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons bedding and leather jackets from producers of J Brand apparel. Italic will also sell eyewear produced from the same source as EssilorLuxottica, plus other brandless products beyond apparel, as well. Italic said it passes “brand markup” savings onto consumers.
Italic says it heavily vets the production standards, prior certifications, working conditions, quality control and sustainability of all its manufacturing partners before committing to selling their products through the marketplace, and notes that its inspectors have a preference for those that have previously produced for luxury brands like Burberry, Celine and Prada.
Manufacturers that are part of the Italic platform will have direct access to the end consumer, and will earn “significantly higher margins,” not to mention they’ll benefit from not having to rely solely on a handful of clients for their livelihoods.
“Italic sits in the middle of two important forces: the rise of direct to consumer commerce in the United States, and global trade flows enabled by technology,” Daniel Gulati, partner at Comcast Ventures said. “We believe Jeremy and team are putting robust software in the hands of top-tier manufacturers around the world for the first time. By doing so, they are creating an exciting new shopping platform. We are excited to see the impact Italic will have on both suppliers and consumers.”