Aksel Group, the company behind men's fashion site AkselParis.com, announced a seed funding of $500k Monday. The fund was led by Inspiration Ventures, with contributions from 500 Startups, Fabrice Grinda, Jose Marin, Paul Bragiel, and French entrepreneur Nicolas Bernad.
Based in New York and San Francisco, Aksel Group sells European men's fashion at affordable prices from an exclusively online forum, a concept that has already gained traction with sites like J.Hilburn. AkselParis carries shirts, sweaters, footwear, and various stylish accessories, like iPod covers.
AkselParid is celebrating their new funding by sharing the wealth with their customers, giving shoppers $50 off any bill over $100 by giving the code "500k" at the online check-out.
So how does AkselParis mean to reconcile the difference between the high fashion and the servicability of their site? The company is able to offer discount prices for high fashion by selling directly to their clientele, keeping costs 30-50% cheaper than if they ran their product through department stores, so says their press release.
AkselParis touts a strong commitment to fit. Their shirts run from a size 2-6, with incremements of centimenters in measurements at the collar, arms, and shirt length. But for those men for whom a one-size-fits-all metric won't do, Aksel has a lifeline to their "Ambassadeurs," or "A-men," accessible to IM chat on their website during business hours.
AkselParis CEO Yazid Aksas confirmed to VatorNews that the seed funding was used to expand their franchise to New York, and to hire more employees. I contacted Aksas to learn more:
When did the company start, and how many customers do you have?
We started in 2009 and have several thousand customers.
VatorNews: Why should men buy clothes online?
They save time and money, especially because we sell them clothes that we make directly so less intermediaries are taking their cut in that distribution model. They also get access to unique things they can no find in stores because distribution is often limited to the same usual big brands.
What does your site have to offer that other online shopping sites don't?
We offer unique and original designs, not the same brands and products that everybody has. The main fashion ecommerce sites all sell the major brands because they don't want to take risks. We are also very affordable, we make sure every product we sell is accessible to the largest number of people, while they are very much in the luxury category in terms of quality and design. Our European focus is also very unique, there is no sites out there with such an angle in the US, particularly dedicated to men.
Can you describe the appeal of bringing European men's fashion to an online shopping forum?
We think European fashion is stronger than ever. Europe still dictates the trends and styles and we see the american men's fashiont moving towards a Europeanization with more sophisticated styles and a more fitted look. That's why Zara and H&M do so great and Gap is struggling. We enable any guy to have access to that without the need to fly to Paris or Milan and we filter what's out there and cut out the brands who overcharge for no reason. We want to be the guys' best companion is terms of dressing great without breaking the bank.