There’s a buzzword we’ve been reading about more and more in the fashion community: crowdsourcing. By this point we know that crowdsourcing is “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” (Wikipedia) It’s so popular in the startup community because it’s about the sharing of ideas and partaking in the collaborative process. Let us tell you, this is not a fad.
At it’s most basic level, crowdsourcing is allowing users to vote or give feedback. Cut on Your Bias features young designers that are looking to create their lines with the help of fashion enthusiasts. Each week there is a new featured designer from men’s or women’s fashion. Members of the site can then vote on their favorite designs and colors. The design that gets the most votes is put into production and sold on the site. It allows for up-and-coming designers to save money and get feedback about what consumers want to buy, which is invaluable information.
Stitch Collective is taking this concept and applying it to handbags. Designers submit their original sketches, users of the site vote and then Stitch Collective will create the pieces and incorporate them as part of their limited edition accessories collection. All of their pieces are produced in the Garment District in New York City and are sold online directly to the consumer– no middleman means more savings for consumers!
ShopBevel is an online marketplace that works with independent designers to offer the best in jewelry design. Designers submit designs, the communityvotes, and Shopbevel produces selected winners. Shopbevel believes every jewelry designer should have the opportunity to be discovered. Read our interview with the founder, Courtney McColgan.
Threadless, the Granddaddy of this model, takes crowdsourcing a step further with cotton tees. Users can submit their designs through any of the Threadless templates. Threadless also has weekly style challenges to help get the creative juices flowing. If consumers don’t think they can make their idea come alive on it’s own, they can find someone in the Threadless community to collaborate with. Once a submission is approved, the community will vote. The top vote from that week will be created and sold on the site.
Then there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s site, HitRECord.org – probably crowdsourcing at its finest. While it’s not directly fashion related, it shows us how far this methodology can go. HitRECord will be launching a variety TV show on Pivot. Users can submit any piece of content and then other users on the site will build upon it (i.e. someone submits a poem, another user may act out that poem, and so forth).
There are several different ways your company can involve crowdsourcing techniques, such as holding weekly contests where users can vote on their favorite, or allowing your users to give their feedback and opinions. Crowdsourcing entails one of Peter Drucker’s principles: allow your customers to be a part of something bigger. Don’t ever forget that, fellow entrepreneurs.
Kimberlee Van Der Wall is a Third Wave Fashion contributor. She’s also a Freelance Social Media Consultant and Blogger. Check out her site here.
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Image via AliExpress.