"The box! The box!"
The temptation of the mystery box was summed up best by The Simpsons when Mr. Burns almost succeeded in using one to bribe a pliant inspector. Now, thanks to upstarts like Heat and Scarce, it's arrived in the fashion world with a vengeance, the latest concept in an industry where shopping habits are in a perennial state of flux and kids thirst for fresh ways of buying into luxury. From a brand stance, it represents a novel way of dealing with excess inventory and is much preferable to the reputation-shredding discount retailer.
Scarce is the brainchild of Yossi Shetrit and Jacob Metzger, the latter a co-founder of a website that turned out to be pretty successful called Grailed. The premise is simple: You buy a box — the contents of which are unrevealed — it arrives, you open it, and hopefully receive some luxury swag for a fraction of the price. That could be a Casablanca shirt or a pair of Rick Owens pants. On the contrary, perhaps it's a neon Dior sweater that you'd never wear in a proverbial month of Sundays (returns, fortunately, are permitted, albeit you must send back the entire haul). The surprise element has been a big hit among second-hand sellers who film their unveilings on YouTube, but it remains to be seen whether the concept can translate to a viable business.
Yams Day has partnered up with Scarce to create a special box assortment, limited to only 100, and comprises multiple items including a Yamborghini tee. Pieces can also be purchased individually. You can find out more about that here.
Below, I caught up with Jacob and Yossi to find out more about the company.
How did you come up with the idea for Scarce?
We have been working with an industry veteran who has been able to secure overstock and backstock inventory from a number of brands, retailers, and distributors. Previously we were selling these items through various channels both IRL and online, but once we reached a critical mass of inventory we realized that it might be a good idea to package it together in order to pass along the amazing value and price points to our consumers. From there we created the Scarce branding and began planning the business out.
How difficult has it been to get brands on board, or are they into the idea?
Brands are always looking for new, creative ways to move their current and past season inventory and overstock in order to free up space and makeup revenue. By utilizing our service we keep their involvement discrete and low-key while providing them with exposure to a potentially new customer base. In the current climate, there are fewer opportunities for consumers to interact with brands, so Scarce represents a new marketing channel as well. We want to celebrate this inventory, while also making the industry a bit less wasteful, and brands appreciate that.
Do you think brands have improved their excess inventory practices in recent years?
Due to environmental concerns and backlash, a lot of brands have stopped destroying their inventory, at least as far as the public knows. We believe that most of them are either getting rid of it at very steep discounts or warehousing it as they figure out how to move those items.
Do you think people are beginning to care less about trends and the need to have new stuff?
Some people certainly are and we have seen a large uptick in secondhand and vintage platforms. Consumers are getting savvier and don’t necessarily want to contribute to a very wasteful industry. However, people still want the latest and greatest, especially from a brand standpoint. Scarce represents an answer to both of these types of consumers: We provide a more sustainable option as well as giving our customers a chance to own the brands they covet.
How does the curation process work?
We are the only service that allows our customers to choose their favorite brands upon checkout. We take that as the first step in our curation process and try to make sure that at least one item in each box corresponds to these choices. We usually drop a limited number of boxes (50-150 boxes per category) to ensure a high level of curation and to make sure each customer gets the best of what we have to offer from the brands we are stocking. We also like to ensure a variety of items per box so that customers don’t end up with multiples from the same category.
It seems most people are really enjoying the risk aspect, but what happens if they don’t like the product received? Is it a no exchange policy?
We allow returns up to 14 days after purchase. However, the customer needs to return all items in the box to get a refund. As such, a lot of our customers end up reselling any items they don’t need or want.
You have a special box for Yams Day, how integral do you think he and A$AP Mob have been to the style conversation in recent years?
The Mob has always been innovators and trendsetters in the menswear and fashion space. Starting with Yams and Rocky and now with Ferg and Nast, these guys represent the forefront of many recent fashion trends and movements. As fellow New Yorkers, we couldn’t have chosen better partners to work with and feel honored to be a part of the Wavybone celebration and to continue building on the legacy of Mr. Rodriguez. We’re beyond excited to be able to offer an exclusive Yamborghini T-shirt only through Scarce alongside some of the other amazing merchandise.
Can you tell us some of the brands involved in this one?
Yamborghini Main Line, Hidden, Psychworld, Sinclair, VLONE, Loso, and Coral Studios are all involved.