The forthcoming website Fashion Stake is the brainchild of Harvard Business School student Vivian Weng. She previously worked in finance, helping fashion companies secure funding. “Fashion’s dirty little secret is that no one really has a lot of money — even people who are well-known and household names,” she told WWD. “One designer’s first round of financing took 18 months to complete.” With her new site, launching this fall, she aims to give young labels a shot at funding from the masses. Anyone can invest just $50 in a label they like.
By buying a $50 stake in a company, “supporters” will be given credits to put toward clothing purchases, as well as special offers like exclusive previews, showroom visits and fashion show invitations. Interestingly, case studies have indicated shoppers value having personal experiences with designers more than getting discounts, Weng said. Supporters will also vote for the styles they would like to see produced.
Well, anyone who has witnessed the gloating faces of front-row fashion-show guests knows personal experiences with designers are more important to fashion folk than discounts no one can actually see them use. Fashion Stake plans to start with no more than five designers, including Project Runway alum Althea Harper. All labels on the site must have produced previous collections and have an established fan base. Established designers Weng declined to name will also produce capsule collections for the site.
The interesting thing about sites like Fashion Stake is what the concept could mean for fashion consultants. Many labels spend plenty of money to have editors or other advisers come in and tell them what they think women want. With a site like Fashion Stake, labels can go directly to the shopping masses with vested interest in the label and find out. And to think, established print fashion editors are still trying to wrap their brains around bloggers.