Crowdsourcing Fashion

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Mentions useabrand and garmz

'„Today innovation is coming from all directions“, says law scholar Yochai Benkler elsewhere in this publication. The two fashion startups garmz and useabrand impressively illustrate this thesis. They use new technologies to open up and democratize the selection, production and distribution mechanisms of the fashion industry.

The principle behind this is called crowdsourcing and is used in many other economic sectors too. Here the creativity and the skills of Internet users are integrated into processes that have formerly been reserved to specialists.

„Fashion shall be no dictatorship“, says useabrand head designer Anna Rihl. She calls her Vienna-based startup “Mo-demokratie“ (mo-democracy). Users can upload their sketches to the online platform and they are also involved in the decision making process as to what is going to be produced and what not. While at useabrand the ideas and sketches of the community flow into the label’s collections the startup garmz, which was also founded in Vienna, wants to help young designers to take their first steps in the industry.

The designers present their sketches on the online platform and the users can rate them and comment on them. Then garmz produces first prototypes of selected fashion design. If sufficient demand is apparent, the items go into serial production and are distributed worldwide via the company’s own online shop. Garmz fully assumes the financial risk and the shares the revenues with the designers. “Concepts such as open innovation or user innovation enable us to involve several parties directly into the creation of an item and thus to see already at an early stage the strengths and weaknesses of a product”, garmz co-founder Andreas Klinger explains. “The designers get feedback already at the design level and can thus bring the product to the market together with the future customers without taking any risk.”

It seems that the online platform, which was launched in summer 2010, touched a nerve with its concept. The uploaded sketches have already been rated more than 30,000 times. By the end of the year garmz had already 6,500 users from more than 200 countries. First products are available in the online shop, which has been available since early December 2010. Along with production and distribution the company also helps its designers organize their online marketing activities in social networks.

By means of crowdsourcing concepts garmz might also be able to estimate the demand for different fashion items and thus minimize market risk. “By including the users in the process we can also create stronger ties to both the platform and the brand”, says Klinger. “garmz helps customers realize their requirements and thus even niche products get their market”. Or, as prominently placed on the company’s website: “Good night, fashion industry. Good morning, designers.” (