Better. Yes, better is rather a subjective measure, but fashion (by its very definition) is a subjective concept. The fashion industry is almost entirely built on the opinions of all who claim to be part of it, from the design in a lofty studio all the way to the men and women on the street. By ‘better’ I simply mean an improvement on the status quo of fashion brands who have dominated the industry over the last few decades.
So, with that in mind, here are 4 ways that I have noticed that fashion brands making use of crowdfunding platforms to enter the market are creating better brands than most of the brands out there today.
In years past, the quality of a fashion item was never assumed nor was it defaulted to the branding on a label. Quality was inexplicably linked to the hands of the tailor. His or her craftsmanship became their hallmark. Today, fashion brands bearing the name of the original tailor or crafter, are testimony to this. Chanel (clothing), Dior (clothing), Patek Philippe (watches), Levi Strauss & Co.(clothing) and Boucheron (jewelry) are classic examples of this.
Today (with the help of heavy handed branding and deep pocketed marketing) craftsmanship is of lesser importance in comparison to brand label and price which have become acceptable standards of quality. Many brands using crowdfunding are resisting this philosophy.
With what seems like a return to fashion’s roots, many (if not most) fashion projects push the concept of craftsmanship and quality, often highlighted in their videos and artwork. From hand cut leather wallets and belts to hand sewn canvas shoes, from hand turned metal jewelry to hand assembled watches, creators are returning to a more hands on approach with an eye on quality which is leaving their brands better. Here are some examples of this:
When discussing crowdfunding and fashion one cannot overlook how creative the projects are especially when comparing them to popular ‘big’ fashion brands or even high end ‘Haute Couture’. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are primarily for creative projects and thus attract aspiring fashion designers to launch their brands in these creative environments.
The creativity seen in many crowdfunded fashion projects are not only creative in their form, but in their function too. This level of creativity and ingenuity applied by these brands in this space certainly challenges the norms of the fashion industry. Here are some examples of projects that showcase how crowdfunded fashion projects are making better brands:
Price as a yardstick for measuring quality is unfortunately an all too common place in the fashion industry. The perception of quality is far too often associated with the label, store and price as opposed to the actual product itself. So rife is this problem that many people could probably not identify a quality product without its label or price tag. Clever branding and marketing are to thank for this along with a hyper consumerist culture.
Crowdfunding is unique in the way that it reduces the number of channels between the manufacturer and the customer. This distinct characteristic of crowdfunding means that expenses are lowered which allows the designer the opportunity to deliver better value without compromise either quality or their profit margin.
What this all means is that crowdfunded fashion brands can be better, in terms of value, in comparison to brands who need to chase profits in order to offset the costs of the ‘middle man’.
Web 2.0 changed the way we would forever interact online and paved the way for social media with a more social internet experience. Crowdfunding is part of that social internet experience as it allows creators and backers to connect in a way that manufactures and customers in the fashion industry have not. Crowdfunded fashion brands are approachable and open to their market.
These brands are more approachable and open to accepting input along the whole creative and manufacturing process. This means that these brands are fashioning their products into products that highly influenced by their potential customers before they are even shipped. Not only does this mean that the creative pool is so much wider and deeper but it also means people (backers) feel like they are part of the process and to some degree part of the brand. This is not so for the majority of fashion brands who create behind closed doors revealing their goods on catwalks and magazines without little or no input from those who eventually will be buying their goods.
This connection between creator and backer is making better brands out of those who are becoming more approachable and social with their approach to the fashion industry. Here are some projects that showcase this well.
Once again, I know this is a very opinionated view, which also generalizes the fashion industry to a large extent, but by just spending a little time viewing fashion related projects on crowdfunding platforms you are sure to see that there is a noticeable difference between them and the brands strutting the runways of international Fashion Weeks or store window displays of your local mall. I think these differences are making better fashion brands - and that is a good thing!