Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Italic

Factories in places like China and Italy quietly manufacture goods for high-end brands like Prada and Burberry, but a new startup called Italic is making it possible for these manufacturers to sell directly to consumers.

The bottom line: Italic says it’s a win-win for buyers and sellers. Consumers can purchase high quality products at a fraction of the price of the luxury brand, while the factories get higher margins on their goods since they’re not losing profits to multiple middlemen.

  • So far, Italic has inked partnerships with 15 factories, according to founder and CEO Jeremy Cai, and products range from handbags to skincare and winter jackets. “The quality of apparel and fashion manufacturers in the US don’t compare to Asia and Europe,” he explains.
  • Unlike traditional deals with brands, the factories are assuming the cost of the inventory, since Italic is acting as a marketplace — but it’s providing the marketing, warehouse, design, and connection to customers, says Cai. And for that, it takes a cut from the sales.
  • Italic has also raised $13 million from Comcast Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Index Ventures and Ludlow Ventures, among others.

Of course, this model won’t work for absolutely all products, Cai concedes. In the case of, say a Louis Vuitton bag covered in the company’s iconic logo, the luxury brand is the main reason consumers purchase the items and pay the hefty price tag.

  • Intellectual property laws can make it tricky for certain categories, like electronics, for example.
  • Cai also says he has found it challenging to convince factories to take on the risk of the inventory since Italic hasn't yet proven its model works, adds Cai.

Still, the popularity of generic products, retailers’ house brands, and even new online businesses like Brandless (which touts its ability to cut out the “brand tax” on consumer packaged goods) suggests that Italic could be onto something.

  • Cai is encouraged by the 100,000 prospective customers — largely urban dwellers aged 20 to 35, well educated — already signed up on Italic’s waitlist. On Thursday, a portion of them will be able to start shopping by becoming members on the Italic site.

Go deeper

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.

57 mins ago - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

57 mins ago - World

Scoop: Sudan wants to seal Israel normalization deal at White House

Burhan. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

Three months after Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel, it still hasn't signed an agreement to formally do so. Israeli officials tell me one reason has now emerged: Sudan wants to sign the deal at the White House.

Driving the news: Israel sent Sudan a draft agreement for establishing diplomatic relations several weeks ago, but the Sudanese didn’t reply, the officials say. On Tuesday, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen raised that issue in Khartoum during the first-ever visit of an Israeli minister to Sudan.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!