Crowd-funding fashion

Having contributed to two incredibly successful Kickstarters myself, I really enjoy seeing the impact that my money, combined with that of similarly-minded people, can have on the dreams of independent artists. One thing I have yet to see, however, are successful crowd-funding campaigns for fashion designers, as those I contributed to (when I had money) or followed (when I don’t) have all seemed to not even get close to their goal. Why is that? Is it because there are simply too many designers, and we feel so overwhelmed by how many deserving emerging talents there are that we feel it’s useless to contribute our pennies to just one or two? Or is it that we’ve gotten past the original idea of helping fund someone else’s dream that we’re most interested in the tangible rewards we could get in return? I.e. if we’re not going to get an actual piece of clothing as a ‘reward’ for donating money to a designer, do we think ‘what’s the point’?

I know I’ve thought both of the above thoughts before, though I’d like to think it’s more because of my lack of spending cash and not lack of a heart. Indeed, I can probably (and will gladly) generate more crowd-funding dollars indirectly by pointing others who to have money to designers’ crowd-funding campaigns, rather than contributing $1 here and there. But maybe the consumerism side of the fashion industry is too ingrained in us at this point, that we don’t see funding a new collection as important as funding a new self-produced album or movie or comic book or invention. So, perhaps crowd-funding campaigns for fashion has to be different. And, indeed, I’ve been seeing a lot more crowd-funding campaigns from designers that aren’t the traditional (can we already call crowd-funding stuff ‘traditional’?) ‘I need money to produce my collection’, but rather they’re in the form of pre-orders, whereby you’re the first to get something from a new collection. Alexandru Tunsu‘s campaign, for example, is still close to the traditional form of crowd-funding campaigns, with the lower levels having ‘rewards’ such as postcards and drawings by Alexandru. The majority of the levels, however, are pre-orders of individual pieces (or, in same cases, complete looks) from Alexandru’s (fantastic!) A/W 13/14 collection, thus allowing him to produce a small batch of each piece, knowing how many will sell (…because they’ve already sold), rather than custom making each order.

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I’ve also noticed some even less traditional crowd-funding campaigns that offer wares at a reduced price. For example, the METAmorph campaign from Canadian label Thieves, who has revamped their 5-in-1 dress to a 24-in-1 dress. Depending on what level you pledge, you can get a dress for 5-50% off of what it’ll be sold for once it’s available in the shop, either by way of an actual pre-order, or a discount card.

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Some of these non-traditional types of crowd-funding campaigns, such as the METAmorph campaign, may even get whatever money is pledged to them, regardless of whether they reach their goal or not. In a way then, it’s simply a commitment both to buying something you haven’t seen in person yet, and agreeing to being patient during the couple of months it’ll take to produce the item you’ve committed to buy, as there isn’t just stock lying in a warehouse or studio somewhere.

I’d like to know, what are your thoughts on crowd-funding for fashion designers? Is there a good way to do it? Have you seen/contributed to successful campaigns, and why do you think they were successful?

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