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October 20, 2017
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Design from Constrvct. Source: constrvct.com

Log in with your account, pick a garment (a dress, skirt or leggings), pick a style (t-dress, A-line, sheath, v-neck, flared or pencil), edit your print (360-degree wrap, centred or mirror effect), save your design, pick the size and place your order.

With a few clicks and rotations, you've got your custom-made, digitally printed garment with your name on the label - delivered straight to your door in three weeks' time.

The site in question is Constrvct, a do-it-yourself clothing label that uses the 3D-design software and printing technologies of its creators, Mary Huang and Jenna Fizel of Continuum Fashion. As "the world's first completely crowd-sourced fashion label," the site offers its customers a practically limitless design base. Every clothing item is customisable with your own image, be it a favourite artwork, landscape, personal photograph or even a picture of a celebrity. There's even a noodle dress! All of the individual pieces are added to the "Constrvuct Designs" page, available for all to see; the colouring-pencil mini skirt is a particular favourite.

[Crowdsourcing] lowers inventory risk by gauging demand pre-production [...] rather than resorting to guesswork.

The ladies behind Constrvct have started a major shake-up in the fashion field. The label inverts the traditional top-down design model - where designs originate from designers, fashion stylists and editors - to bottom-up, giving the design power to the buyer. This way, the buyers create and control not only their own unique designs and styles, but also the demand.

It was the public demand that drew Stitch Collective towards crowdsourcing. Recognising the barriers for new designers in the fashion industry, Loni Edwards, founder and CEO of Stitch Collective Inc., provided a solution. Taking public opinion into account, Edwards launched a platform where sketches by emerging designers can be voted for, and the winning designs are added to the collection and available to purchase.

In an interview with Forbes, Edwards explained the advantages of public opinion: "Crowdsourcing [...] lowers inventory risk by gauging demand pre-production and ensuring that we only produce in-demand items rather than resorting to guesswork." Stitch Collective maintains an economic approach to fashion design by splitting up production and designing duties that independent, start-up designers would face. The company handles the manufacturing and sourcing, so designers, as Edwards says, "can focus on what they do best - designing."

Another crowdsourcing fashion site, Cut On Your Bias, has been named by InStyle as "one of the best fashion sites of 2012." Founded by Louis Monoyudis and based in NYC, Cut On Your Bias is straight forward with its business model, adopting the same vote-and-create process that Stitch Collective follows. However, the site feels more like a digital design atelier; all of the clothing silhouettes are presented as hand sketches, and the few featured designers bring an artisanal and conscious design feel to this platform.

Alexander Wang crowd-sourced bag.
Source: vogue.co.uk.

But it's not only these independent websites that are trying crowdsourcing. Oscar de la Renta launched a digital inspiration platform in 2012 called The Board, with the tag-line "Don't tell me, show me." The page is similar to Pinterest and asks the public to contribute ideas for de la Renta's Resort 2013 collection. "We like the idea of trying to collaborate with our fans," said CEO Alex Bolen.

Alexander Wang has also tried crowdsourcing when he partnered with Samsung Electronics to produce a limited-edition lambskin leather bag. He created the design by sourcing ideas and doodles from his friends, colleagues and artists using their Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphones. The black-and-grey print drawstring bag incorporates these sourced print ideas, with the sale proceeds going to Art Start charity.

It seems that the ever-changing market has for too long followed the top-down system, where high-end designs filter down into the high streets to the consumer. But whether its opinions or votes on a design, or it's creating your very own unique outfit, crowdsourcing puts the consumer in charge. It might not revolutionise the way the fashion industry works, but it certainly narrows the gap between designer and consumer, allowing your own ideas to become a reality.

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