One of the things I'm most excited about recently is the growing trend and offerings in, what I'm
calling (I'm sure someone else has said it too), the "Fashion on Demand" sector.
These are brands, some new and some established, that are using sources like Kickstarter, Ebay and their own sites, to create limited runs of their products, test the market and still bring a designer-level item to the marketplace.
This is, in my mind, a backlash to a few industry trends. Fast fashion is getting backlash and can never match the quality of the designer items they are ripping off, while at the same time they are poaching and cheapening the brands' creativity consumers really want. Mid- to Upper-range brands (BR, Jcrew and Gap, etc.) are either reducing their number of stores and/or cheaping the product quality while still upping their prices in an obvious bid for market share, all the while alienating the customers that made them popular by ignoring their desires. And even designer labels have extended their product lines too far (like Michael Kors) or cheapened their production. Really no level is safe.
But we've been looking for our fashion savior in the wrong place. Until brands like Jcrew go back to their old quality and make fewer $700 sequin skirts and more interesting yet accessible items (seriously, show Anthropologie dresses be as much or more than what I see at Bergdorfs?), I'm looking for great items on Kickstarter.
Lately I've backed two items. They are/were made in Europe (Ireland and Scotland). The details and manufacturing are thoughtful and high quality and, while not cheap, the are worth the money I feel I invested to bring their brands to the next level.
The first was a raincoat made in Ireland - Ember & Earth
This coat is amazing. It's warm and protective and every detail was thought out to bring the coat to the next level. While not 100% customizable, I was able to get the version, color and size I wanted while helping their team grow. I can see this coat being the new benchmark for Irish gear. I plan on bringing it with me on an upcoming trip to the UK because I know it will keep me warm and dry no matter what weather I encounter.
I'm even more excited about Strathberry of Scotland. This somewhat established, up-and-coming brand came to Kickstarter for expansion and their offering is going gangbusters.
I was so excited by their video and reviews that I am getting two - the Midi and the Nano.
Midi Tote -
MC Nano -
I think this will be huge for them, especially if their quality is as good as shown because while people like the labels or the "names" - the savvy, luxury consumer generally cares less for conspicuous branding. And while price may be less of a barrier, the demand for quality is not.
I've been surprised and disappointed lately with some of the high end brands. It's almost like they are trying to see just how much they can get away with before some of their markets start shifting. I love the designs but if they are made more cheaply while doubling their price (something I've seen over the last 8 years), I'm going to look elsewhere.
And luckily, there are lots of places to look.