Tag Archives: fashion

Continuum’s Crowdsourced Fashions are Hit or Miss

19 Mar


With an industry as fickle, high-minded, and individualistic as fashion, one would think leaving the big decisions to the crowd would be a good way to fast-track your designs to the bargain bin. But Continuum Fashion hopes to change the game through technology by boldly incorporating webapps, 3D printing, and user-generated content into their design processes. Their website is a collection of projects: the custom-clothing line Constrvct, the 3D-printed N12 bikini and Strvct shoe line, and the D.dress app for creating your own Little Black Dress.

The Constrvct and D.dress webapps serve as a pertinent example of how fashion can be crowdsourced, with Constrvct being the most promising section of the Continuum arsenal. Constrvct is a webapp that allows you to order highly customized clothing. The user specifies their personal bodily dimensions and uploads a photo to be used as a graphic print, and Continuum will fabricate and print the final design, in addition to hosting it on their site for others to purchase.

constrvct_designs1This isn’t so much a new idea as it is a well-polished combination of several already-extant ideas. There have been several websites in the past that allow users to order custom-fitted clothing or to create clothing with their own personal designs. Constrvct just combines these two ideas, along with featuring well-liked designs on their homepage for others to customize and purchase. There is no particular design direction that seems more popular than another, either. Designs range from mirrored patterns to full-garment prints of art that looks like a cathedral ceiling, a variety which only serves to highlight the wide range of tastes present in the Constrvct community.


The N12 and Strvct shoe line do not incorporate large aspects of crowdsourcing (yet) and are instead notable for their conceptual design and unique construction. Both the shoes and the bikini are made completely through 3D printing, with the exception of the shoe soles and leather lining. They are visually striking, but an informal poll among my fashion-minded Facebook friends reveals precious little else past the initial impression.

“While it is innovative, in terms of design the only thing that makes the bikini special is the material and how it was constructed,” confirmed Amanda Finesse, fashion model/designer and winner of the 2009 American Mall Model Search. “With the runway, it’s more about how it looks, and I don’t see them translating well for photo shoots either.”

Erica Regelin, owner and lead designer at Hull Street Studio, believes the N12 bikini to be a “weird novelty item you wouldn’t really wear to the beach. But then again, it opens a lot of doors to the possibilities of what you could make with a 3D printer.” Regelin was much more optimistic about the Strvct shoes: “Every woman on this planet would love to print her own shoes in her own house! Plus they could be designed to your exact foot shape and be far more comfortable than a lot of shoes out there.”

Pictured: a dress, sadly.

Pictured: a dress, sadly.

The D.dress app, on the other hand, is very high-concept but falls short on the execution. The project is centered around the app software, in which the user draws a dress that the program will then make through a process of 3D modeling, laser cutting, and triangulation. The result is… well, it’s not pretty. As cool as the idea of being able to sketch out your own Little Black Dress is, the end results look angular, frumpy, and uninteresting; one of my friends compared them unfavorably to crumpled sleeping bags or bad quilting. I understand the draw behind the creation of a system such as this, but I ultimately fear that the technology just isn’t yet at a point where dress sketches can be automatically translated into real garments without some severe hits to quality.

So, more than half a year after my admission of ambivalence over the state of crowdsourced fashion, nothing has really changed. In the space of a single studio’s website, we have examples of the wonderful and imaginative designs that I dreamed could come out of crowd creation, and we also have the “tries to hit too many targets” approach that ends up missing the majority of them. At any rate, we’ll never get anywhere by not pushing boundaries, and sometimes you need to crowdsource just to see what you’ll come up with. I applaud the efforts of Continuum Fashion, and I can’t wait to see how they further the future of garment fabrication.


I’m Not Sure How To Feel About Crowdsourced Fashion

21 Aug


Online clothing retailer ModCloth recently rolled out their Retro Honor Roll Collection, inspired by creations submitted by their community and supported by designs from the ModCloth co-founder. In terms of how I view crowdsourcing, I’m at a bit of an impasse in reacting to this development. Is fashion the sort of thing that can, or should, be crowdsourced?

The Argument in Favor

We’ve seen the success of crowdsourced clothing with our own eyes. I’m sure many of you are already familiar with Threadless, the community-inspired t-shirt outlet that some might say led the initial charge in crowdsourced fashion designs. In Threadless, we find a company that has leveraged an excellent community and a winning business model to make oodles (non-scientific term) of cash and some really exceptionally popular shirts. Additionally, their service often gives a leg-up to amateur designers, who may find stardom after their design gets approved.

ModCloth’s campaign also turned out very successful, with as much as 40% of the articles in stock selling out in the first day alone. Looking at the designs, one can’t help but offer a nod of approval; they don’t look like they were made by a committee of amateurs, but instead like any other professionally designed piece of apparel. In these examples, we see that crowdsourced clothing doesn’t have to be a disaster.

On the Other Hand…

Is this what you want?!

When I laid out what makes some crowdsourcing efforts successful, I made it a point to state that some industries are doomed from the start if they try to crowdsource because their areas of interest are too broad. Fashion dangerously straddles this line; not everyone is a fashionista, but the majority of people wear clothes and have some sort of opinion on them. In terms of crowdsourcing, this is a dangerous mix, since the design experts are the minority and the clothes-wearers are (for the most part) ignorant of what makes up “good fashion”. Make your contest too public, and you get swarms of people who think it would be a really great idea to have a plaid-and-polka-dot suit. Make it too private, and it may as well not exist.

Granted, this conundrum is not limited to the world of fashion, but it’s a little more tangible since (as I mentioned) the wearing of clothes is one thing that binds many of us together. Not only is it ubiquitous, but important; a large-scale shift in fashion can very well define an era. When something like this deeply affects everyone involved, crowdsourcing it could make people nervous. Think about it this way; would you want people crowdsourcing the quality of the air you breathe? The question of “what if they’re wrong?” looms large, and even a small chance of failure is enough to send many people in the opposite direction.

The Battle For Chic

Regardless of my feelings on the subject, crowdsourced fashion is here to stay. As with practically any other effort that asks for help from a crowd, said crowd is the main determinant of the campaign’s success. If you’re the type of person who’s fashion-minded, the best possible thing for you to do would be to sign up for as many of these sites as possible and lend them your good taste.

But if you’re like me, and your idea of fashion is “as long as my belt sorta matches my shoes, I’m home free”… well, maybe leave the fashion to the experts.

Ensure Maximum Swag By Designing Your Own Adidas Shades

19 Jul


Adidas Eyewear recently launched a contest on Talenthouse asking aspiring designers to help them create the next big thing in fashionable glasses.

The contest will consist of three winners: the Adidas design team will choose first and second place winners, who will receive public endorsement from Adidas and $3000 or $500, respectively. A “People’s Choice” prize of $500 will also be rewarded to the submission that receives the most public votes.

The main thing I like about this contest is Adidas’ tight compartmentalization. They realize that as a creative prompt, “design a pair of sunglasses” will result in many entries that are not at all what they’re looking for. To that end, they’ve limited the submissions to a single style of eyeglass, and have even provided a template for easy submission. Any good designer will tell you that restrictions breed creativity, and if it gets Adidas closer to the product they want, added bonus.

Submissions for this project are underway and end July 31st, at which point public voting will take up the first week of August. Winners will be announced on August 28th. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to prove to the world the unblockability of your shine.

Follow-Up: IDThisItem.com Does It Right!

30 Apr


Sometimes, a platform is so useful, so novel, and so well-designed that I have no choice but to write about it multiple times. So when one of the people behind IDThisItem.com sent me a message saying that the invite-only period was over, a quick browse through the site convinced me that this glorious platform absolutely deserves a second look.

The concept behind IDThisItem is simple; sometimes you see something on TV or on the internet that’s awesome. An article of clothing, some artwork, or a well-designed piece of furniture catches your eye and you think, “Alas! If only I knew where to purchase this glorious item, my life would have new meaning and my wife won’t leave me!” IDThisItem saves your marriage by allowing you to post a picture of the item with a short description and have the website’s fantastic community find the item, the designer, and/or where and how to buy it.

ID This Item - ID #54

It’s very rare to see a start-up like this firing on all cylinders, but IDThisItem absolutely nails it. Their best decision was to emphasize their co-operation with platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr, which are both hugely popular right now. Crowdsourcing initiatives work best when they actively seek a relevant audience, and IDThisItem has done that perfectly by actively seeking an audience from these websites. It’s not uncommon to see the typical account on these websites chock-full of interesting examples of fashion and design that may not be available at your local Target.

In addition to knowing its audience, IDThisItem knows how to design a platform, too. The sign-up process is super minimal, and can be done by linking Twitter or Facebook. Submitting an item to be identified is similarly a snap, and the community fills many requests within 48 hours. Especially useful is the option to list a budget for the item in question. Rounding out the site are some simple community features, like an aggregated score for each member that tells how helpful they are, and personal “walls” for interaction. The only flaw I can find (which isn’t even a flaw yet) is that as the site grows in popularity, the “Art & Design” and “Other” categories may become too broad, and could benefit from some specialization.

In summary, anyone who’s fashion-minded, online-shopping-savvy, or has a really good photographic memory should sign up for IDThisItem immediately and save themselves some trouble down the road when they see a cute pair of jeans on Jersey Shore that they just have to have.

“ID This Item” Crowdsources to Help You Find, Purchase That Cute Top You Saw One Time on Tumblr

11 Apr

ID This Item

It’s happened to the best of us. You’re on your favorite picture-sharing website. You spot an article of clothing on an attractive model, think “Psh, I could wear that better than them!” and then promptly lose interest because you can’t find where to purchase the damn thing. Pinterest and Tumblr are great for sharing pictures, but when it comes to the details and source data of the image, often you’re left without the slightest hint. So for the aspiring internet fashionista who wishes to mimic these styles, IDthisitem.com swoops in to save the day.

It’s a pretty simple crowdsourcing model that we’ve seen in similar forms before: person posts item in question, thousands of pairs of eyes see it, one of them says “It’s X item available at Y.com,” correct answers are rewarded, rewards buy prizes… by-the-books crowdsourcing here. The site isn’t breaking ground in innovation, just providing a solid service that can definitely be strengthened by applying crowdsourcing. As an added bonus, this is the sort of subject matter that lends itself well to an online community. ID This Item could find itself with a very strong fan base if this platform proves worthy.

So far, results look promising. The site is invitation-only for another week or so, so I unfortunately couldn’t see inside. But if we’re to believe the Twitter feed, ID This Item is producing quite a few satisfied customers, who all express gratitude with some version of “omg thank you” (triple exclamation points optional). Sign up if this is your sort of thing, and let me know if it’s a dynamo or a dud in the comments.

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