ChicCartel Launches ‘Shop Locally’ Site

The slogan “grown locally/buy locally” resonates for fashion, said the cofounders of e-commerce platform ChicCartel, a new market that promises to connect savvy fashion consumers with independent designers from their city and region.

ChicCartel builds special pages for locales such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Manhattan, Brooklyn and “From the Heartland.” The company is headquartered in New York City. The owners plan to build a Los Angeles office. However, an opening date for the office has not been scheduled, said Olga Gomonova, a cofounder and the e-tailer’s chief operating officer. She also serves as chief operating officer for Abingdon Ventures, a venture capital fund that focuses on the fashion and technology business.

ChicCartel is part of a growing wave of drop-ship companies that focus on serving independent fashion labels. Drop-ship companies typically provide back-office services to designers—think shipping, webhosting and marketing—in exchange for a cut of sales.

ChicCartel’s point of difference is that it offers stronger support compared to other drop-ship retailers, said Victoria Janashvili, a cofounder. She made a career shooting editorial for glossy fashion magazines and shooting commercial photography for retailers such as Nordstrom and Target. Janashvili and her assistants will handle visuals for the site, Some other drop-ship companies ask designers to provide their own visuals.

Styles from individual designers are photographed in the region they are based, Janashvili said. Models of all sizes are photographed to give consumers an idea how a certain garment looks on differently shaped women. California fashion labels listed on the site include Aoui, Lavender Crush and Sarah Liller.

ChicCartel also provides customer support, on-site marketing and provides prepaid shipping labels and packaging for designers.

Many independent designers run their separate e-commerce sites while working with a drop-shop company, said Syama Meagher, chief retail strategist with Scaling Retail consultancy. “Brands have to be really picky about where they distribute online with drop-ship so they don’t over commit or saturate their own online presence,” Meagher said.