We are super excited about Of a Kind, a new fashion site that launched today, which seamlessly blends retail and editorial content in a way that we've never seen before. What we think makes Of a Kind really amazing is that the product is comprised solely of limited-edition one-offs exclusive to the site (Very limited edition--like 30 units). And, they make a point of featuring emerging designers, allowing accompanying exclusive editorial content to introduce shoppers to new brands. They're also the first shopping site on Tumblr.
For their initial sale, Mandy Coon created a special version of her adorable bunny bag.
We'll let the site's founders Claire and Erica tell you more. Thankfully, despite launch day nerves and sleep deprivation, they answered all of our questions.
Fashionista: What is the main idea behind Of a Kind and why is it unique? Of a Kind: The idea was to find a way to showcase emerging fashion designers through a combination of retail and editorial content. We select designers whose work we really love and commission them to do limited edition, exclusive products for us. Then we release those in conjunction with a series of editorial posts about the designer.
One of the things that is really unique is that we’re really integrating retail and editorial in a way that we haven’t seen anybody do before. Every product is released with a series of really in-depth features that go into the designer’s personal life, professional life, and design process.
Why the small quantities? We’re doing it all in really small batches to offer something exclusive and collectible. Each item comes with a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity, so you know that it’s a limited edition piece. And, you have a real connection to the designer through the stories.
There's a lot of mass fashion out there right now, which is great, but when you have something that only a few other people have...you don’t have to worry about showing up somewhere wearing the same thing as someone else and you can really say you’re only one of a few to have gotten this item. It really lends something unique, both to the experience of purchasing it and the experience of owning it.
Did you ever consider making the site members only? We want this to be accessible. We always found it took a lot of trolling on the web and going to a lot of different online and real life boutiques, just to find a couple of pieces that we really liked. So, what we wanted to do was make this a place that anyone could come to that also had a hard time finding these things.
It’s also about exclusivity, but in a very different way. You have to be there first to get it but anybody can be there first. The [members only] idea has been presented to us and it occurred to us, but it really felt like we wanted to introduce emerging designers to as many people as we can.
Why Tumblr? The most obvious thing about Tumblr is it lends itself really well to the viral spread of content, so from a marketing standpoint that’s great for us. It’s also the demographic of early adopters who really love to talk about things they love and there’s a really rapidly-growing fashion community. It’s also a really visual platform and our site is really visual.
How did you decide on the name? Everything on the site is small batch, so it's 30 of a kind, 25 of a kind, so that was the most literal reason. It’s also that all of these designers are a certain “kind,” in a sense. We’re curating it with emerging designers who have a unique vision, a strong point of view, and we’re trying to curate a set of “ones to watch.”
How do you approach the designers? We started out cold-emailing the designers telling them our concept and saying we’d love to work with you..They pitch us several concepts and they’re the ones who obviously come up with the design. Of course we make sure its something we can really get behind and that most of us would want to buy. We also really hope that the pieces they do for us epitomize the designer’s style and sensibility so that if someone is interacting with a designer for the first time on our site, they get a really strong sense of the taste and the direction in which the designer is going.
How did you get the money to start Of a Kind? We have some really amazing friends and family who were as enthusiastic about the site as we were, so they gave us a little bit of feed capital to get us going.
What has been your biggest challenge in creating the site? We’re really trying to do something that we don’t think anyone’s achieved before, using retail and editorial, so there weren’t any models to look to for layout. We really had to come up with from scratch, the best layout and the best flow of the site that we could, so that retail and editorial are really integrated and you’re not just coming to an e-commerce shop with a blog on the side or you’re not just coming to a blog that has a little shop in the corner.
What did you guys do before this? Claire: I had a background in arts management, so i was working in a variety of capacities for art collections, individual artists, different art organizations...
Erica: I come from a magazine background. I worked at Details magazine for a long time and then Lucky briefly. I got to work with a variety of content and learned to shape stories in different ways and that’s helped with shaping the content of the site.
How did you meet and decide to start Of a Kind? Claire: We both went to the University of Chicago as undergrads and both moved to New York after graduation and stayed close friends. The site was actually inspired by 20x200 [an ecommerce site that sells limited edition prints by artists], which we both really love. I was applying for a job there for the umpteenth time and I was asking Erica, an amazing editor, to proof and edit my cover letter for me and it sort of came from that. We just started talking about 20x200 and we said what if we did limited edition products by emerging fashion designers, but also integrated editorial and told the story behind them and we both just got so excited about it and felt like we had to pursue it.
What can we expect from Of a Kind in the future? We have a lot of things in mind, but right now we’re really focusing on this core concept and then seeing where it goes from there. We’re really interested to see what readers and shoppers feel about the site and we’re excited to get feedback. From an ideological standpoint, we really want to be a place to look to to find the next big emerging designer.