A new direct line to the latest designers’ stock.
HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL student Vivian Weng made a subtle observation last year: Fashion addicts were finding the same brands at every department store. What else — who else — was out there? she wondered.
Weng and her classmate Daniel Gulati answered that question with FashionStake.com, which puts the trunk shows of brand-new designers online for sale. Since the company launched in September, Weng and Gulati have signed on 30 fresh labels, from fashion students looking for their big break to established brands such as Nicholas K.
The website gives customers a first peek at collections and — once enough pre-orders are placed — lets them decide which ones are ultimately brought to market. "These pieces are at the beginning of their life cycles. They aren’t even in stores yet," says Weng. Consumers can also be part of the creative process; one forthcoming feature will let designers solicit feedback on looks.
The crowd-sourcing business model is a smart one: It scratches an itch for shoppers and helps budding designers figure out what sells. "The Internet is giving access to an industry that was closed," says Weng. "Now you can open your laptop and be in Fashion Week."