Clothing The Crowd

Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal”. While fast fashion is enticing to buyers on the lookout for a bargain, personality and attitude conscious millennials want  fashion that speaks to them. By Priti Ambani

Almost every vertical is being disrupted by a new thinking that prioritises experiences higher than possessions. And fashion is not untouched by this attitude. An ocean of clothing in hundreds and thousands of racks marked by similar designs sold at very cheap prices is enticing for bargain shoppers. The downside is that it shouldn’t shock them when they pass by someone on the street wearing the same outfit.

But with crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and social media spicing up the industry, a new social business has taken form and fashion will never be the same again. It’s time for the top-notch designers to make way for a new breed of designers and fashionistas: the crowd. They decide what and how we should wear, redefining fashion in the 21st century. The crowdfunding fashion is a nascent industry that has the potential to disrupt the incumbent fashion brands, which are now racking up billions from consumers.

Cutting Out The Middleman
The supply chain in garment production is quite complex. However, crowdfunding platform Betabrand has an out-of-the-box idea that encourages participation and collaboration. The business model is simpler than traditional garment production — it’s hitting three birds with one stone. Crowds are designers-investors-customers all at once. They submit ideas, vote for the top-notch designs, and fund them. If a prototype receives enough funding, it turns into a Betabrand product.

This approach ditches the middlemen and the complexities of the supply chain, a contrast to the fast fashion business model. In fast fashion, these tycoons produce ready-made garments in quantity, moving them in volumes in the market. However, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding fashion is an unconditional win, which reduces waste, uncertainties in demand and doesn’t cross the borders of moral and ethical issues in production. However, the only drawback is a long turnaround while the consumers wait for the final design. But, as consumers participate in the process, this is how they guide the future of manufacturing based on their purchasing decisions.

Stitching Together Initiatives

Before The Label is another fashion crowdfunding platform that aims to change the way garments are being produced. It allows consumers to decide what should be in fashion. Traditional designing means spending thousands of dollars on producing one collection with high markup price for the brands. It’s also a great platform for emerging indie fashion designers to take a stab at their art and creativity by offering fresh designs and styles. One of its unique features is Fashion for Cause, which allows customers to fund their designs that will benefit, for instance, displaced children in Syria.

On the other hand, a French platform I Am La Mode hosts projects for anyone who’s got the creative flare — photographers, bloggers, illustrators, stylists, designers, etc. The campaigns get personalised coaching and the best receive mentorship for further development.

Meanwhile, on Meet my Designer, backers can invest in their preferred campaigns, receive discounts and royalties once the projects are successfully running. Another example is Tel Aviv-founded Out Of X that has offices worldwide and makes designers collaborate with local manufacturers pushing down prices and turning customers into trendsetters.

As customers become more aware and educated on purchasing decisions, these fashion prototypes of Kickstarter are introducing a new buying mindset towards value, excellence, and quality of garments. Fast fashions tycoons still have the largest share in the fashion industry in terms of volume, but today, the crowd is proactively getting involved in the process not just as consumers, but designers, investors and entrepreneurs, slowing things down and making it more meaningful.

With crowdsourcing and crowdfunding platforms that all provide a social edge, they empower the crowd to participate and decide what’s fashion for them at reasonable price tags.

Join at Crowdsourcing Week Global 2015 — the largest global meet on the potential of crowds in Singapore, April 20-24.

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