Independent fashion designers, determined to stay independent, are turning to crowd-funding initiatives like Kickstarter and Pozible and rejecting traditional rigid methods of investment to help launch their business. And consumers are responding.
Launched in 2009, Kickstarter’s impressive statistics include more then 61,000 projects funded to the tune of more then $1.1 billion dollars worldwide. The Australian based Pozible, launched in 2011, boasts more then 6000 projects and close to $20 million dollars in pledges to projects.
What’s the attraction for fashion designers? Independence according to Melbourne based RMIT graduate, Samantha Lentini, the designer behind s.L.c.
‘I’ve been approached by potential investors, but I’m not too sold on that whole thing,’
‘I’d just like to be in control of everything at the moment,’ Sam said.
The 23 year old designer, who also works as a personal stylist, saw a gap in the Australian market for quality, well cut t-shirts and starting working on producing a range. She launched her project on Kickstarter, alongside the t-shirts, at the urging of friends with the aim of financing a complete AW collection.
‘Obviously I wanted to make a proper collection, but I didn't have the money,’ she said.
The risk involved in financing a fashion collection was also an important part of Sam’s decision to use the crowd-funding platform.
‘A lot of people lose money in the fashion industry, especially with their first collection,’ she said.
Perth based fashion creative, Claire Mueller has pledged to Sam’s project and also sites the independence that Kickstarter and Pozible allow designers, but also the low level of risk involved.
‘It let’s them get right to the consumer,’ Claire said.
‘Cutting out the risk and rigmarole of having to impress an investor.’
Making the comparison between a Kickstarter or Pozible project and the traditional method of producing a range to show potential investors and buyers, Claire pointed out that crowd-funding platforms allowed designers to test the market response before committing fully.
‘You can see if your idea is catching people’s interest in a short timeframe, so it if works - fantastic, if not you get to reflect and go back to the drawing board without huge financial implications,’ she said.
However, Claire said that designers using crowd funding platforms had to be active on social media to make it work.
‘I don’t trawl Kickstarter looking for projects to support. I’m far more likely to see something cool on Instagram and think “Love it, that’s worth my pledge”,’ she said.
(Some of Sam Lentini's hand drawn prints)
It’s a strategy that Sam has embraced, using both her personal and her label’s Facebook and Instagram pages to encourage fans to support her project. And it’s paid off, with Sam surpassing her projects $2000 goal with less than three weeks to go.
‘I’m feeling very overwhelmed and grateful that people believe in my work enough to donate,’ she said.
Sam will now start work on the producing the samples for her AW collection.
‘I’m very excited for my designs to go from paper to cloth,’ she said.
Despite Sam’s success using Kickstarter, many projects on the crowd funding site never reach their goals. According to Kickstarter’s own statistics, fashion projects have a low rate of success, 29% compared to the 55% enjoyed by music. However, overall the site records a success rate of 43%. Pozible doesn’t provide a breakdown by project type, but does provide an overall success rate of 56%.
Which begs the question, what makes a successful Kickstarter or Pozible campaign?
Both sites provide detailed how to guides and handbooks, and highlight the importance of a clear defined goal, creative and fairly priced rewards for consumers and actively promoting the project via social media and traditional media.
For Sam, ensuring that she defined the outcome for consumers alongside being active on social media were important parts of the success of her project.
‘It’s an amazing means of funding, Kickstarter has played a massive part in making my dreams a reality,’ she said.
You can check out Sam’s Kickstarter project here