Derek Lam partners with eBay to design first-ever crowdsourced collection

Fashion designer Derek Lam is launching a capsule collection to be sold exclusively on eBay, the giant online auction and shopping website serving 93 million users. Upon the collection's initial unveiling during New York Fashion Week in February 2011, web users will be able to vote for their favorite looks to determine what goes into production.

Following the runway show, shoppers will be invited to vote on eBay to determine the most coveted Lam pieces. Crowdsourcing will thus be responsible for selecting which items actually go into production and will be sold on the website next spring. EBay said the price points will be "accessible," but so far has not given exact figures.

Lam considers his collaboration with eBay an opportunity to reach out to a wider group of consumers. "Having a direct and immediate dialogue with the online audience is what makes fashion exciting and relevant in this moment," Lam said. "EBay's technology offers me a unique and innovative opportunity to reach new and existing customers directly, and to create fashion they desire."

Women's Wear Daily had previously reported that the Chinese-American designer wants to launch a diffusion line with a retail partner "like Topshop" and expand his brand beyond the boutique and luxury department store niche. "The best way to control your own destiny is through direct retail," Lam told Women's Wear Daily. "I'm really trying to be in touch with the consumer."

Direct retailing and crowdsourcing have the potential to radically alter what's available in the fashion landscape since it allows consumers to have a say in what is designed and produced. Big brands like Keds, Bloomingdale's and Nike, as well as small start-ups like Spoonflower, have all experimented with the idea. But the Lam-eBay partnership is the first of its kind because crowdsourcing has never been tested before at the designer level.

"The convergence of fashion and technology is essential to the future of the industry," said Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, chief executive officer of Derek Lam International LLC. "EBay provides a new, innovative channel, which will enable us to deliver fashion, in season, directly off the runway."

The concept of selling clothes fresh off the runway is gaining steam after Burberry pioneered an industry first and unveiled a 3D livestream of its Fall 2010 Prorsum Collection last February. The show was streamed live on the company's website and in the 72 hours following the event, shoppers could snap up pieces from the collection that were delivered to them 6-8 weeks later.

EBay is no stranger to collaborating with high-end designers. Norma Kamali was the first to design for the online marketplace, followed by Narciso Rodriguez who created a spring 2010 diffusion line exclusively for eBay. 


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