As resale startup The Archivist exclusively announces luxury sportswear brand Daniel Patrick as one of its clients, Highsnobiety speaks to founders Ashley Granata and Joe Einhorn to find out more about their plans to make luxury… luxury again.
It was while watching Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent that Ashley Granata — CEO and co-founder of The Archivist — stumbled upon the million-dollar question. Why shouldn’t luxury brands be able to cash in on the cultural heritage amassed over the years through the resale of their most coveted collections and vintage pieces? Granata realised that resale was an area into which luxury brands had no insight or influence.
Co-founder Joe Einhorn saw an opportunity to restore the magic of luxury brands, whose appeal he felt had been dampened by increased global demand. “Luxury sales are booming, but this comes at the cost of the magic of these brands, because all around the world, people are queuing up to buy identical pieces,” he says.
“The Archivist is the solution to this problem of everyone trying to look the same. We are here to enhance the mystique of brands with only the scarcest pieces, which retain their specialness over time.” Einhorn makes an interesting point: is it even “luxury” anymore if hundreds of thousands of other people can be wearing the same pieces, in the exact same way, at the same time as you?
To address this, Granata and Einhorn founded The Archivist in New York in 2019, making it one of the first startups to enter the luxury resale gold rush that is dominating the fashion industry. The Archivist’s mission is to provide brands with the opportunity to monetize their heritage whilst leveraging the vintage and sustainability trends across luxury. For consumers, The Archivist gives access to verified vintage items in a brand-controlled ecosystem, ensuring the authenticity and quality of pieces bought. In Granata’s words: “The Archivist enables brands to recruit new customers and deepen the lifetime commitment of existing ones while retaining control of their heritage, customer experience, data, and relationships.”
There is no shortage of competitors, with other startups such as The Archive and Reflaunt (the tech firm supporting both Harvey Nichols and H&M to launch their resale offerings) jockeying for market share. But Granata and Einhorn are confident that The Archivist — a 2020 LVMH Innovation Award Finalist — is a different offering altogether. Here’s why.
As entrepreneurs, both Granata and Einhorn have impressive track records. Granata is an experienced digital strategist and innovator at the intersection of fashion and tech, having launched one of the first-ever iPhone apps whilst working at Style.com. She also founded Pendant Labs, a collective that merges creative disciplines with the world of tech. As it happens, Granata is also a nationally ranked speed skater and career mentor to the US speedskating national team.
Einhorn is best known as the hip-hop loving, New-York hailing, vintage Ralph Lauren-collecting entrepreneur who founded Fancy.com, a multi-million dollar social e-commerce platform that counts Will Smith among its backers. Recognized as one of the most influential people in the business of fashion, Einhorn also founded Loot in 2019, a comic book store and creative hub in Brooklyn that doubles up as The Archivist’s IRL HQ.
Hollywood Cast of Investors
According to the founders, The Archivist benefits from the pedigree of its investors, who crucially have not only bought into The Archivist commercially, but on a conceptual level as well. The business raised $2m in funding from investors such as Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, as well as from Edward Norton, a serial investor in data companies. Ex-Amazon executive Sebastian Gunningham is also on board as an investor, along with Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
“It's interesting to see that this mixture of Hollywood players and corporate dealmakers are making their bet on luxury resale through The Archivist,” says Einhorn, who points to Schwartz and Savage as prime examples of investors who understand brand heritage storytelling, having cast American designer Tory Burch in the latest series of Gossip Girl earlier this summer.
Whilst other, more established resale companies like The Real Real sell luxury vintage clothing directly to consumers, the Archivist’s services target other businesses (luxury brands) who benefit from software that enables them to monitor data on sales of their items across 150 major resale platforms worldwide. This allows brands to track the popularity and pricing of specific products or collections over time, whilst also being able to monitor counterfeit items and take action against the sellers.
The Archivist sees its value in the fact that it provides “heritage management solutions” that go above and beyond the provisions of its competitors. The company’s tech-driven solutions remove any burden from the client when it comes to the resale process, meaning the brand can simply collect valuable resale data along with income from sales of its vintage pieces, whilst the entire system is powered by The Archivist.
Beyond heritage management of established luxury names, The Archivist also provides heritage curation services for independent brands looking to identify their cultural footprint. “We work with these brands to identify moments where cultural icons elevated the trajectory of the brand,” Einhorn explains. “We then create a collection — or archive — that serves as a sort of heritage museum for the brand. In the case of Daniel Patrick, so much of the brand’s momentum was generated from innovators, from Justin Bieber to James Harden. Our particular focus is the adidas x Daniel Patrick Harden collection, where James Harden wore a series of apparel and sneakers throughout the 2020-21 NBA season.”
The most interesting service on offer to brands — and one that is unique to The Archivist — is the Heritage Desk. “If a brand's top priority is to control their heritage and it is willing to go all the way, our tech serves as a system for customers of brands to register their pre-loved item and make an appointment to bring it into the nearest store,” Granata explains. “An in-house heritage expert will use our software to determine a price and purchase the item back from the client on the spot. The item goes away, perhaps for repair and then resale, or for a special event.”
This service indicates that The Archivist is serious about helping luxury brands to protect their heritage — if a brand wanted to remove a certain piece, or pieces of a certain collection from circulation to heighten the scarcity and drive up the value of those remaining, then it could do so with the Heritage Desk tool. There are also financial benefits for the consumer who wants to sell a treasured vintage item, as they now will have the choice of selling it back to the brand, or on to another consumer — whoever offers the best price.
From here, the challenge will be to convince the industry that The Archivist’s heritage management service is exactly what luxury brands need to capitalize on the resale boom. The founders are in no doubt that this is something they will achieve, sooner rather than later.
“In five years’ time, there will be no more brand-degrading resale marketplaces. They will have been replaced by luxury brands successfully operating their own vintage channels, supported by The Archivist.”