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Oct 11, 2016 8:34 AM ET

Archived: Italist – Globalizing Italian luxury retail

iCrowdNewswire - Oct 11, 2016


Globalizing Italian luxury retail


Italist.com is will soon be the largest online offering for luxury fashion products. The best part? We’re doing so without any inventory risk. Each product is dropped-shipped to the customer from our partner luxury boutiques in Italy — we’ve already secured $2 billion in inventory to be sold worldwide!

Since our start in December 2014, Italist has made great strides:

Most recently, we were selected as one of the Top 15 startups of G-Startup Worldwide Silicon Valley 2016. There were nearly 700 applicants and we are proud to say that we made the Top 15.

Why do people shop on Italist.com? 3 main reasons:

And of course, every single piece sold on italist.com is 100% authentic — it’s like shopping the high end streets of Italy… online!

We are globalizing Italian luxury retail. But we aren’t stopping there — while our initial market entry was through the Italian luxury retail market, Italist will become THE online destination for ALL luxury shopping!


The streets of Italy are lined with the best multi-brand luxury boutiques. When you’re there, you’re golden. Leave Italy though, and good luck trying to find those same items.

The vast majority of Italian luxury boutiques and brands don’t have a website, or if they do, they aren’t serious about using them to sell, making it almost impossible to buy the products you liked if you aren’t still there in person.

Why is this the case? How can a fashion empire not have a reliable means of online distribution? Really, it just comes down to an old way of doing business. The reasons these brands are so respected is the obsessive detail put into them. This obsession doesn’t end with the clothing, but extends to the business as well. Many of the founders still own the vast majority of their companies and rely on the same old brick-and-mortar distribution relationships they set up decades ago.

Still, high-end luxury fashion is a huge and fast-growing market: over $150 billion is spent worldwide every year (2% year-over-year growth). Currently, only 5% of this total revenue is generated online, but that number is expected to grow to 15-20% in the coming years. This places Italist in the perfect position to capture market share.

Our mission is simple: provide our customers with the best online shopping experience possible, as if they were walking through the best multi-brand luxury boutiques of Italy.


The first way we provide the best online luxury shopping experience is by having the broadest selection of luxury goods. We will be broader than Neiman Marcus by the end of this year.

We can do this because we only list the inventory of each one of our 150 luxury stores (products that are held in-store by boutiques like Gucci, Valentino, Ferragamo, Dior, Saint Laurent, etc.) but carry no inventory risk ourselves. We’ve already secured the rights to $2 billion worth of inventory that we don’t have to carry, but will sell worldwide.

When we make a sale, we notify the boutique (with the physical item in stock) in Italy, and provide them with shipping materials in advance. From there, the boutique schedules a courier to pickup the item for shipment and then the item is on its way to the customer.

With this dropship model, our customers can find the products they desire at Italist.com before everywhere else — for example, we sold Cambiaghi way before it was available at Barney’s.

This is the future of ecommerce: huge selection without carrying any inventory.


The second way we provide the best online luxury shopping experience is via lower pricing. When luxury Italian products leave the country, they incur a 30-50% markup depending on the country they are sold in. Generally, the same product is 30% more expensive in the US versus Italy, and 40-50% higher in Asia.

Because Italist products never physically leave Italy until you buy them, they remain at Italian prices. If you buy from outside of Europe you avoid VAT which is a 22% saving itself. Thus, items we sell are on average (all costs included) 30% cheaper than any other competitor.

Moreover, some of these items aren’t just cheaper on Italist, but ONLY on Italist… which brings us to our third point.


The third and final way we provide the best online luxury shopping experience is via exclusivity. Many of the items we sell can’t be found anywhere else online, or anywhere outside of one particular Italian boutique for that matter.

For example, we have a luxury partner that carries a specific line of Alden shoes that is only sold in one shop in Italy. The same is true of the dedicated Italian lines of Santoni, or Golden Goose that are impossible to find in Japan and Korea even though these brands are very popular there. We also have at least 10 brands that list with us directly that you can’t find anywhere else.

Another example: in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, it is almost impossible to find a Valentino, Gucci, or Dior bag. These countries all have a wealthy portions of the population that want access to those brands, but they can’t find them — not even on the most established websites. Basically their options are to fly to Italy, or buy from Italist.


Boutiques can’t decrease the number of products they stock because they need to have an in-store, seasonal offering that is attractive enough to keep customers coming back to the store. By listing with Italist, they decrease the risk of having unsold products at the end of the season which would drastically reduce their margins.

It’s also a matter of expanding their customer base and reach. We sell in 85 countries and are seeing major traction among luxury shoppers. This translates to significant improvement in their sales. We bridge the gap for luxury boutiques, by being able to offer their high end products online to our audience.


Our total addressable market will expand in two ways:

1. Getting all 500 of these boutiques online for likely the first time (currently have 150 of them).

2. Expand each of the retailer’s inventory offering on our site.

When we initially onboard a retailer, we only start with a handful of items from their full in-store inventory. Eventually our retailers will allow us to add more and more of their in-store SKUs to the Italist online site.

To demonstrate what this means: if just our current partners would upload all their inventory, we would have 200,000+ items, making Italist the largest luxury presence online (for reference, Neiman Marcus only has 30-40,000 items online).

Moreover, the online luxury apparel market grew 10x last year. Expectations are for online sales to grow 4x in the next few years. Italist will be part of that big growth.


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We continue to sign up 1-2 more partner boutiques every week. We are targeting250-300 luxury boutiques by the end of 2017.

We are also in the process of redesigning our website. Each one of these brand’s pages will have a deep storytelling component — interviews with the designer, a video explaining how the product is produced, etc. We will be storytellers of a tradition of hundreds of years in producing luxury.

Italist will soon become the go-to luxury fashion ecommerce platform. As we’ve demonstrated in the Italian market, luxury brands and retailers will continue to partner with Italist because we make it so easy to sell the newest collections to customers all over the world.

After learning about our world-class team below, make sure to request access to the business plan tab of this profile for an inside look into Italist!


We have built a unique team that combines passion and knowledge of the luxury fashion world with great technical expertise to make sure the customer experience will always been like an Italian vacation.

With our tech team based in San Francisco, the founders and marketers based in Los Angeles, and our partnership, onboarding, and support teams based in Italy, we have everything in place to scale up rapidly with every luxury brand.

Raffaele is a pioneer in mobile content in Europe, having bootstrapped his company growing it to $80 million in seven years with operations in 3 continents and 12 countries. After selling his company to a private equity fund, he became involved with a few startups that also grew to be successful. Raffaele was raised in a family that has been in the luxury business for generations.

Prior to Italist, Diego was the CEO of a tech company in Southern California which was backed by TPG Capital. He also held executive positions at Activision Blizzard and Bain (where he first met Raffaele), and was a board director of one of the most famous luxury producers of knitwear in the world. Diego has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, a MA in business from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and a MBA in finance & management from Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Tim was previously the VP Engineering at BloomBoard and Advisor Hack Reactor. He has also held senior roles at Plangrid, Sleepy Giant, YouTube, and Google. He has a BS from Yale University.

Bob is the former VP of Technology at Adaptiv.io, and has expertise on complex platforms and smart engines. He holds a BS in computer science and mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tristan is the Entrepreneur in Residence & Venture Partner at 500 Startups, and Co-Founder of Storefront.

Contact Information:

Raffaele - Executive Chairman

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