We’ve seen crowdsourcing and voting campaigns done before in the fashion world, often to great effect but fashion site brandalley.co.uk has taken that a step further by allowing their users to decide which designs actually get commissioned and sold on the site. Their new fashion site was previewed late last year and has now gone live to the public. The campaign takes place in a section of the site called ‘Le Lab and the concept is fairly simple. The latest creations are showcased on the site and public votes allow you to see which designs/designers have received the most votes. The designs that gather 2000 votes are sent forward for consideration by Brand Alley, to go through to an actual launch :
At first glance this may appear a little bit gimmicky and there may well be designers who reject this approach. From a customer’s point of view however I think it’s a refreshing approach that allows you to be that little bit more invested in the product or designer before you go through to purchase. In some ways it’s very similar to Dell’s Ideastorm and I like the fact that this is a well-considered campaign in that the site still holds some sway into which designs make it through, as opposed to automatically being commissioned as a result of the votes. It adds that element of kudos and authority – this is fashion after all and Brand Alley still have to consider the way in which their designs and products are perceived.
Do we want this much control?
Social shopping is undoubtedly the big trend in retail at the moment, particularly in fashion, as demonstrated when Levi’s debuted their social store. And while this may be a good chance for new designers to get their fashion directly in front of consumers, is it perhaps offering a little too much choice to people? When you shop online, particularly for fashion, you want to see those outfits that you’re confident have been selected by people in the know. There’s a danger that social shopping begins to ask too much of people – do we want to do the job of the buyer after all?
Either way, Brand Alley are certainly getting ahead of the pack here. We’ve seen how much fashion brands are experimenting with social media with some highly engaging and innovative campaigns and with more people getting comfortable integrating social media with online purchases, the fashion industry could be uniquely positioned to benefit from this. There is something inherently social about fashion – you rarely buy an expensive item of clothing without at least one second opinion and that’s something that can easily cross over online.