Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The democracy of fashion

From left to right (all by Mike Vensel): Organic Cotton Poncho Dress, $95; Silk Chiffon Wrap Dress, $195; Organic Cotton A-Line Dress, $95

The concept of made to order clothing is nothing new for those of us addicted to Etsy and other various channels of ordering directly from independent designers. However, this familiarity with the concept in no way lessens the good it does my heart when I hear that others are both embracing the concept and are able to save money by doing so. Enter FashionStake, an online retail site that offers discount clothing not because they're last season's leftovers (i.e. excess inventory), but because the items up for sale are actually pre-orders. Furthermore, FashionStake only has the number of items that are pre-ordered produced by their respective designers, meaning that there are minute inventory and storage costs involved in running the store. FashionStake then passes on their overhead savings via deep discounts to us, the online consumers. Capisce?

In the hopes that I still have you, there's actually a second part to this pre-order system. If FashionStake worked just like Etsy, where each order resulted in a piece being individually produced, there would be little/no need for a middleman online store. How FS actually works is that a certain number of pre-orders have to be placed before any of that item is produced (ie. we the consumers have to vote for a piece to be made, hence the democracy part of FS). So, say Designer A wanted ten orders for Dress A before making any of them and only eight of us put in a pre-order, none of us would get Dress A (and thus none of us would have to pay for the then cancelled orders). But, if ten of us pre-ordered the dress, not only would all ten of us get (and pay for) Dress A, but Dress A would then be tagged as 'We're doing it!', and any subsequent pre-orders after the minimum ten would also be made. Furthermore, this hypothetical Dress A would not be indefinitely available for pre-order (as the use of 'pre-' would then be erroneous), as FS showcases designers via online trunk shows; once a trunk show is completed, the items within that designer's trunk show are no longer available in the store, and will then only be available elsewhere at the full retail price.

From left to right: Hand-woven necklace by C Pettel, $144; Silk Scarf by David Peck, $99

Having said all of this (can you tell I'm injured and have all the time in the world to type today?), FashionStake is getting plenty of my attention today because they are featuring a Holiday Showcase, in which pieces (some of which are shown here) from 20 emerging designers are all discounted to be under $150 (except for some of the long dresses by Mike Vensel; see photos at top). These designers include Study NY (in fact, it's thanks to Tara's blog that I've heard of FS), SHIN, Mike Vensel, Eighteenth, and other designers I had never heard of before. All the items available in the Holiday Showcase have reached their minimum amount of pre-orders, so each is immediately available and is said to be guaranteed for Christmas delivery. The only catch that I can find is that you have to be a member of FashionStake to both see the Holiday Showcase (and other trunk shows) and to purchase any items. This simply means you enter your name and email, and create a password. I have already done this, and if you click on this link whereby I'm personally inviting you to sign up, you immediately get $15 credited to your new FashionStake account. I'll also get $15 credit if you make a purchase. Cool, no? Also, not all items seem to be locally produced or handmade by the designer themselves, so if this is a key factor for you when making clothing purchases as it is for me, pay attention to the 'Origin' section of the description for each piece. And...I'm done.

From left to right: One Strap Tank by Eighteenth, $62; 4-Way Dress by Study NY, $120; Silk Dress by Maisonette 1977, $149; Double Layered Cardigan by SHIN, $137

P.S. If you were hoping for a certain SHIN piece to be in this Holiday Showcase, as I was, you may want to just check out the normal SHIN online store, as some of the new collection's pieces are on sale there anyway.

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