The Power of Crowd-Sourced Clothing Design

The currently predominant fashion model, in which a creative director designs collections which are then advertised by reps, purchased by retailers, and then purchased by customers, is a model based on guesswork and dated tradition.  Retailers order enough garments to fill a whole season, and if customers don’t like the clothing it ends up stockpiling and eventually going to waste in landfills.

One fashion label is breaking barriers and testing the waters with a different theory: the cycle of fashion should flow in the opposite direction. The brand, Awaytomars, designs and manufactures its fashion with the power of the global community behind it. Their first collection debuted in March at Lisbon Fashion Week and featured clothing designed by over 400 people from 67 countries. What makes this collection unique is that all 400 of the designers were ordinary consumers.

This has become possible with the increasing accessibility of the Internet, which is revolutionizing communication and making global companies increasingly effective.  One of the earliest examples of crowdsourcing in fashion was, which provided users with a platform to submit t-shirt designs and have them voted for by other users. Other websites have incorporated techniques such as photosharing, product previews, and fashion advice.

So what is the business model Awaytomars is using? It starts with a concept sketch, which anyone can submit. These sketches are then posted on a co-creation board, where others can view and make suggestions to the designs. Each design is individually crowdfunded, which makes it easy to judge the most popular designs. After production the finished pieces are sold via their website. Awaytomars doesn’t have seasonal collections – they minimize waste by simply adding to their permanent collection.  The designer of each pieces gets 20 percent of the sale price, 20 percent goes to Awaytomars, 50 percent to the manufacturer, and the remaining 10 percent is shared among those who’ve contributed to the design.

This is an attempt by Awaytomars CEO and founder Alfredo Orobio to combat the current exclusivity in the fashion industry. Recognizing the ingenuity and creativity of those who put forward brilliant designs, but happen to not have technical fashion training, will lead to more variety in the industry. Professional designers educating and guiding amateurs is the way forward.

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