Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reasonable Luxury

It appears that it's time for the annual brief mention of George Bezhanishvili. Though I'm a couple months behind schedule, it's perfect timing, as George just recently launched a Kickstarter project to fund his S/S 13 collection. I really like the idea of designers using public funding to succeed, and was waiting to see a well-thought out campaign like George's to see how it could work. I was quite impressed to see that the point of his Kickstarter, entitled 'Reasonable Luxury', was to produce his collection entirely in New York (where he is now based), to both have a quality product and to produce local jobs. And George immediately went above and beyond, laying out exactly what he would spend his Kickstarter money on in a colourful bar graph (below).

Now, what George offers to his backers isn't what I would've expected for a designer's Kickstart campaign, but, on second thought, it totally makes sense. I was picturing actual pieces from the collection, but aside from a couple of scarf options, a couple accessory options (keychains and a bracelet), and a wool coat from a previous collection (top photo), the bulk of the reward options for backers are collages, mood boards, and postcards. And I think that's really how a designer's Kickstarter should be set up. If a designer offered pieces from the collection being funded, it wouldn't be any different from a pre-order, and the money raised would have to be used to produce and ship the rewards rather than fund production for potential non-Kickstarter customers. Kickstarter is the new way for artists to continue their work (you heard it here!), and so it should not be thought of as a new online marketplace. And really, the whole idea of becoming a backer is because you support someone's work at least in theory if nothing else, not to get something back for that exact dollar value anyway.

Personally, I wish I could afford the $2900 pledge (wool coat) option, which includes a VIP invite to the NYFW showroom presentation, to be guided personally by George. However, I will still go for one of the cheaper mood board options, as I (have no other choice financially, and I) find that mood boards really allow you to view a designer's thought process, even moreso* than clothing on a hanger. It even makes you feel like you're a part of the whole creation process somehow. Though, to be able to do both in one fell swoop (and accompanied by a handsome man and a glass of champagne at that) would be fabulous. Indeed, one of the highlights of my multiple NY experiences was being shown through the Verlaine studio by one of the designers (a very handsome man, along with a glorious glass of water). There's just something about knowing that a particular pattern/colour scheme started from the toll multiple dye jobs took on the bottom of a pot. Anyway, if I could give one piece of advice to designers wanting to make a potential customer a lifetime devoted fan, it would be to do something like George is attempting. It might even be worth $2900.

*Question: Does anyone know of any issues/outstanding warrants on the word 'moreso'? I used it in a draft of a research proposal for a scholarship application, and it got crossed out by two separate readers. Why?!!!

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