Derek Lam‘s first collection for eBay will be the first diffusion line that asks shoppers to select which designs will actually make it to the point of sale.
Lam will create a full line of clothes to be shown during New York Fashion Week in February, and after the show online shoppers will be invited to vote on what they’d actually buy. The garments with the most votes will be sent to production, and by summer of next year they’ll be available to buy on eBay.
While Lam bills the strategy as crowd sourcing, it’s actually a little more like crowd curating — Lam and eBay aren’t asking shoppers to submit their own designs, after all. Still, it’s the first time we’ve ever seen a designer afford his customers such a loud voice in his business. Lam says he’s not pandering to anybody, he’s just doing what’s good for both his business and his customers.
“Having a direct and immediate dialogue with the online audience is what makes fashion exciting and relevant in this moment,” Lam said in a press release. “eBay’s technology offers me a unique and innovative opportunity to reach new and existing customers directly, and to create fashion they desire.”
As refreshing as it is to have a designer ask for our input, it also sets a somewhat scary precedent for the rest of the industry. At the end of the day, designers and the stores that carry them really are beholden to you, me and our wallets. But what happens when we cut out the middle man and start telling designers what we want? Will designers get less creative when they know most people won’t really go for their more experimental designs?
Probably not — Lam makes beautiful clothes and likely always will. And his collection will probably be wildly successful in spite of the lack of snooty buyers trying to decide what’s fashionable for us. But if this ever infiltrates ready-to-wear (or heavens forbid couture) we’re going to go stark raving mad.