The air of online marketplace Grailed’s new Soho loft in Manhattan on a late Friday afternoon is thick with vape smoke. There are few desks in the space and the framed art — brash and street style — isn’t yet on the walls. “We outgrew our old offices fast,” says Arun Gupta, who launched the curated resale site specializing in cult menswear in early 2015. Since selling his first piece on his site for $80 — a pair of used Quoddy moccasins — Grailed has become the go-to alternative to eBay for menswear nerds in search of rare finds by Supreme, Rick Owens, Off-White, Raf Simons and more. “We don’t call them nerds anymore,” says the 28-year-old Gupta with a laugh. “Now we call them enthusiasts.” Today, Grailed boasts some 350,000 enthusiasts from around the world posting 100,000 items per month.
Recently, the site has gained attention as music artists like ASAP Rocky, Playboi Carti and Kanye West have embraced high-concept menswear and have tapped Grailed for pieces. Creative directors and designers like Virgil Abloh regularly stop by the office to browse a supercut of Grailed items, which hang on garment racks along one wall of the space before they’ll go on sale. “It’s one of the most impressive archives in the city,” says Gupta, who, at the behest of Abloh a few months ago, sent selections from the rack uptown to Madison Square Garden for West to peruse. “A guy like Kanye, arguably the most famous dude in the world, he loves this stuff,” says Lawrence Schlossman, Grailed brand director and the founder of the seminal fashion Tumblr F—yeahmenswear. “He’s just like the 16-year-old kid using Grailed.”
To West and other fans, the Grailed’s archives are like a wearable Louvre. Sitting on a shoebox are a pair of white German army sneakers, each signed in Sharpie by a member of Maison Martin Margiela’s design team. Simon’s patchwork parka from 2005’s capsule collection History of My World hangs next to another rare Simon parka, hand-painted with the artwork from New Order’s 1983 album, Power, Corruption & Lies.
On this Friday afternoon, Gupta and three members of his senior team sit on a sofa, contemplating if it’s too early to open a bottle of champagne. Gupta wears Saint Laurent jeans, a tank top from a Bushwick “band slash brand” called Death Traitors and a pair of limited-edition Vans. After graduating Yale with a degree in physics, Gupta grew frustrated trawling sites for deals on items from his favorite designers. “I thought there should be a website just doing this.”
The birth of Grailed coincided with the peak menswear moment of 2015. “Because of the Internet,” says Schlossman, “menswear got so hyper-trendy everyone knew immediately what was hot. Enthusiasts were looking for a way to differentiate themselves.” The designer label was no longer enough. The holy grail, as it were, became past seasons.
A watershed moment for Grailed and its growing community of enthusiasts, says Schlossman, was when West wore a 2001 Simons bomber during Paris Fashion Week in 2015. “Before, rappers wouldn’t be caught dead in secondhand clothing,” says David Casavant, a stylist who specializes in archive menswear to outfit such artists as West and Rihanna. “Now it’s a brand-new world.”