Does this dress deserve to be made? That’s essentially the question Burlingame-based social shopping startup Inspirare asked members of its fashion network in recent weeks. But it didn’t just ask about this peplum-skirted number. There were over 150 designs from designers in 23 countries submitted to the community’s first fashion design competition, which closed at the end of May. Those with the most votes went before a panel of judges that included yours truly, Style Bust’s Nicole Lindgren, Academy of Art University Instructor Flore Morton and Inspirare’s Kate Blank. In the end, designer Alejandra de Coss of Puebla, Mexico edged out the competition with her design, Miss Marble.
While many design competitions give winners a pat on the back or a small prize, Inspirare is rewarding de Coss by funding the production of her dress and selling it online in its forthcoming shop. De Coss will receive a 20 percent royalty on the sales, as well as her choice of a cash prize or a seven-day trip to San Francisco.
It’s the latest example of crowd-sourced, crowd-approved fashion coming to the fore. Inspirare encourages independent and emerging designers to apply to submit their work to the site using images, sketches and descriptive text. The community, which is made up of fashion fans and designers alike, votes on different looks. Those with the most support have the opportunity to get made and sold by Inspirare. Designers receive a percentage of the sales, and their name appears on the label of their garments.
This democratized approach to selling fashion not only means inventive designs that avoid the cookie cutter sameness found across so many mainstream stores, but also gives small designers an avenue for limited-run production that’s much more feasible than producing on one’s own.
See all the Inspirare competition winners here.