Top Sites for Crowdfunding Fashion
According to a recent article in the Financial Times, people like you and me have helped contribute to the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter (read my description and analysis on the largest crowdfunding site) raising over $2 billion for 78,000 projects over time. This new form of finance and participative product design (here's my brief description of what is crowdfunding) is transforming industries like real estate (top real estate crowdfunding platforms), non-profits (top crowdfunding sites for non-profits and charities), and science (top crowdfunding sites for scientific research), just to name a few.
More and more brands are turning to Kickstarter to not only raise money but to get customer feedback on their designs. Getting early customer input and cash can literally make or break a young company, especially in fashion where there are a lot of upfront costs saddled by the entrepreneur before he or she sells her first product.
The FT article interviewed a company that recently used Kickstarter to crowdfund new lingerie designs:
“There are so many upfront costs that designers face before even making a dime. Patterns, fit models, samples, fabric, marketing . . . these are all required before production can even be considered.”
Without further ado, here are some of the leading crowdfunding sites for fashion (of course, industry leaders, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, deserve a mention here as thousands of fashion projects get backed on their sites)
Top Sites for Crowdfunding Fashion
Teespring: This site lets anyone upload a t-shirt design, set a sales goal, and start a crowdfunding campaign around it.
If you're successful, the site ships the shirts to your backers. While some projects on the site have sold just a handful of t-shirts, others have sold tens of thousands. It's a great, no-risk way to launch a new t-shirt design.
I AM LA MODE: This international crowdfunding site was one of the first launched explicitly for designers and fashion projects.
Fashion industry mentors spend time on the site, looking for opportunities they can assist.
Born: Here's how the European crowdfunding site for fashion describes itself: "It is a space where people, collectively, can invest in great creative projects. It is where the great designer brands of tomorrow can be brought to life today." Born is backed by the same group that puts on the BELIEVE COURCHEVEL, a 14-week celebration of design and art in the French Alps.
OutofX: OutofX is another designer-focused crowdfunding sites that enable the crowd to directly support indie fashion labels. The site also crowdsources public opinion as to which designers and what designs are the most popular, providing good feedback to the artists and the community at large.
Gustin: Gustin isn't a marketplace of designers, it's a menswear label, with a twist. Instead of producing new shirts and jeans and hoping consumers will buy, each design is crowdfunded and if significant support is earned by the community, those products get produced and shipped.
Before the Label: Another fashion crowdfunding platform, Before the Label is a way for the public to decide what styles get made (and which don't). Back a project by an up-and-coming designer and you pre-buy the exact product you want.
The Petite Shop: This site supports sells fashion to women under 5'4". Its Sourcery line enables customers to shop fan-funded petite capsule collections from established and indie designers.
Crowdfunding is absolutely transforming the fashion business. Consumers interested in being part of the design process are happy to trade immediate gratification to get exactly what they want.
Here's how Elizabeth Bates, founder of The Petite Shop, describes the crowdfunding fashion evolution:
Crowdfunding technology has allowed this leaner, lower-risk collaborative retail model to emerge. As domestic manufacturing responds, and retailers and designers are able to offer an increasingly wider range of clothing options, the quality and cost benefits will outweigh the slightly longer purchase timeline. Throughout this evolution, consumers will help guide the future of crowdfunding and domestic manufacturing with each purchase decision.