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Cultist Interview

Date: May 19 2008

By: Sneaker Freaker

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Allow us to introduce you to the first lady of online shopping, Cultist owner and visionary, MissYasi Salek. Tapping into an eager market fuelled by credit cards and Paypal, Yasi has made some of our favourite brands available right at our finger tips, literally. From Married To The Mob to Mishka and Mama, Cultist allows you to shop whenever, and wherever you are. It's primarily an online store and now it’s also an exportable idea that has taken on a life of its own, recently showing the Japanese just how they do, with a Cultist pop-up shop appearing in the uber-chic Shibuya area. www.cultistshop.com

What’s going down Yasi? How is the traveling life treating you?
Traveling is pretty wonderful, except that I am a completely incompetent packer. I always get somewhere with the absolute wrong combination of items, but luckily since I pretty much only wear black, matching is never an issue.

Your online store Cultist was one of the first to cater solely to the ladies. What was the demand like back in 2007 when you opened compared to today?
I think the demand in 2007 was pretty much exactly the same as it is today, but the difference is that there is more product to meet the demand. I think that brands have recognized that there is a market for this kind of clothing, and started to produce more. Market efficiency I guess.

Explain to all our readers where the name Cultist arose from and what it means to your company?
I guess if I just said I really liked the way the word sounded it would seem superficial. Actually, I always looked at fashion, especially independent fashion, as a sort of cult because the people that follow it always display a fervor that is comparable to that of those Kool Aid people. Also, I really like the way it sounds.

What were some of the challenges in working purely through the Internet and not having a physical store?
I would say it’s actually been a bit easier to operate through the internet, because we can carry more product without worrying about space issues, and obviously because overhead is much lower so we have more freedom with other facets of the business.

What do you say to people that may be wary of buying online, especially those not in the US? What are the advantages of buying online rather than going into a store and purchasing?
I think there are a few advantages to buying online. One is availability. Most of our clothing comes from independent designers that are available in major markets only, so if a fan of the brand lives in a smaller town or more remote area, they don’t have access to the goods. Another advantage is convenience. We like to think that we stock a combination of clothing that is not found in its totality in any other store, online or otherwise. So instead of visiting five physical stores, a customer can pack up her cart on our site and have it all delivered to her door in a short amount of time. Everyone wins.

How did you choose the brands to stock within the online store?
I wish I had a more involved answer for this question, but we pretty much just buy what we like.

What do you want to achieve with having Cultist?
Ideally I’d like Cultist to be a go-to site for people who want to check out interesting independent clothing, both domestically and internationally.

How do feel about the direction of female street wear in 2008? Is it evolving and becoming more cutting edge with the arising obsession with high-end fashion?
I’m not sure I entirely understand the constraints of the word street wear. To me, street wear is just clothing that is worn by kids in the street. Our particular preference is for edgy, interesting clothing that is comfortable and sexy. If there is a word for that, then super. If not, I guess street wear will do.

Your “Tenets of Cultist” on your online bio is one that all females (and males) should read. Our personal favourite is “there are other countries besides the United States, and they make really nice clothes”. Too often street wear heads tend to look to the US for fashion advice and clothing, but how important is it for you guys to travel and also stock brands from around the globe?
It’s very important to me to have brands from different countries on the site. We’re always on the look out for lines from around the world. We’re excited to offer brands like CTRL, emmaichai by Maharishi, IKKS, and Insight, and we have a few new brands for Fall that we are very proud to carry.

Tell us about your recent trip to Japan for the pop up store? What did that entail for Cultist?
Cultist basically curated a section of the Shibuya location of the Japanese store Free’s Shop. It was a great project, because it gave us a chance to give some of our favorite brands exposure to a new market, not just in terms of Japan but also in terms of a higher-end consumer. The project was very well received and got a lot of press, and we’re very pleased with the outcome.

It seems that sneaker brands are finally taking into account their female audience with the recent collaborations with Claw Money, Mama and Married To The Mob, all brands that you stock at Cultist. With the acceptance of female street wear clothing in the scene, do you think we’ll start seeing more leading ladies come to the forefront, and using their design experience in footwear?
I don’t see why not. If there is a demand for it, someone will pay to make it.

Any plans for Cultist to do a shoe?

So far we have no plans to design a sneaker.

www.cultistshop.com

The Tenets of Cultist

Tenet 1: Streetwear and sportswear are for everyone, not just Bape enswathed Nike shod Japanese men.

Tenet 2: Women’s clothing shall not exclusively be a) pastel, b) tight, or c) frilly. For that, there is Bebe.

Tenet 3: Be-dazzlers are for seven year olds.

Tenet 4: T-shirts are sexy.

Tenet 5: Books are good.

Tenet 6: Art is important.

Tenet 7: US Weekly is not a style bible.

Tenet 8: There are other countries besides the United States, and they make really nice clothes.

Tenet 9: Join us, and we will save you from the mall.

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