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Crowdsourcing in Fashion: Disrupting the Industry One Apparel at a Time! Crowdsourcing is taking fashion to a whole new frontier by changing the way fashion is conceptualized, produced and sold

By Dr. Somdutta Singh

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In today's cut-throat competitive world of fashion, aspiring designers hoping to be the next Marc Jacobs or Alexander McQueen or Coco Chanel are finding a voice and financial support for their designs through crowdsourcing. Let me put it this way, the crowd is taking charge and that's visibly reflecting in the fashion industry where brands are incorporating crowdsourcing practices to give consumers a voice, better integrate customers' needs and quickly react to the industry's rapidly changing environment.

This is a stark shift from the past efforts that merely focused on a designer's know-how which was purely based on individual experience and creativity. Thanks to the internet, the line between designer, consumer and brand is blurring with each passing day.

Crowdsourcing is Changing the Dynamics of Fashion

Crowdsourcing is taking fashion to a whole new frontier by changing the way fashion is conceptualized, produced and sold. Regardless of design experience, concepts, sketches and prototypes are crowdsourced thus preventing overstocked inventories, myopic creative visions and countless middlemen. Crowdsourcing is lowering the fashion industry's barriers to entry and giving the general public an opportunity to not just shape a brand but also share its profits. Crowdsourcing reduces the risk in design decisions for brands and helps retailers avoid unsold inventory, waste and having to resort to heavy discounts.

Roadblocks in the Way of Designers

Designers trying to make their way into the marketplace face big barriers and I bucket them into two groups: pre-production and post-production. The former involves finding quality factories and suppliers and having enough capital for a production run. The latter involves visibility and inventory risk by gauging demand pre-production and ensuring that only in-demand items are produced rather than resorting to guesswork. Crowdsourcing is lending a hand to designers who might not otherwise get a break. Crowdsourcing also drives brand loyalty. It can help turn consumers into brand advocates: it creates a feeling of ownership in the brand and if you get people to contribute and commit to a brand, they are more likely to support the brand in a bigger way in the future.

Fashion Industry in a Transition Phase

Fashion, the industry as we know it is under unrelenting, nonstop attack by the internet. Whilst the internet revolutionizes the world, why would the fashion industry stay anywhere behind? Internet, precisely online shopping delivers services far more quickly and efficiently than traditional brick and mortar stores can. Perhaps the biggest weakness of the traditional model is that it doesn't allow businesses to react and adapt rapidly to consumer preferences.

In my opinion, this trend is not a surprise considering the Internet has created both a platform and consumer appetite for ever-more targeted and specialized products and services. No matter which industry, crowdsourcing combines two very important strategies; satisfying demand by removing the guesswork out of predicting consumer desires and building customer loyalty. The math is simple; businesses are recognizing the voice of the customer which is indispensable in determining which new products will be successful.

Dr. Somdutta Singh

Founder and CEO Assiduus

Dr Somdutta Singh is the the Former Vice-Chairperson of the NASSCOM Product Council, only woman to have ever held this post. She is also part of the Core Committee of WEP (Women Entrepreneurship Platform) by NITI Aayog and a serial Indian entrepreneur, mentor and angel investor.  

Somdutta has mentored various initiatives that include Google Launchpad, Microsoft and Target Accelerator, IIDT, Govt of Andhra Pradesh and is now a Mentor of Change at Atal Innovation Mission (AIM).  She is also currently on the advisory board of Karnataka Biz-tech ITBT Ministry, Co-trustee and Director at Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CEE) & Digital Leadership Institute, Founder of IRA - a crowd sourced fashion label; Co- Founder - Amplicell - a heath supplements company & Founder, CEO at Unspun Group, one of India's 1st technology-based marketing solutions companies. 

She is also on the advisory board for BloombergQuint and has been a keynote speaker at several prestigious symposiums. She is a political analyst and has regularly appeared on debates across TV channels.

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