HBS Students Launch Fashion Website

Fashionistas will now be able to financially support up and coming designers long before their latest collections hit the stores thanks to FashionStake, a website launched by two Harvard Business School students on Wednesday.

The online marketplace, created by Vivian Y. Weng and Daniel S. Gulati, helps designers raise funds needed to produce their collections by allowing customers to invest directly in a designer or pre-order items at a 40 percent discount.

These purchases or contributions go toward the designer’s funding target, and if the target is met, these customers will receive special promotions for the designer’s collection.

In this way, “consumers can actually determine what styles and collections get produced,” said Weng, characterizing the process as a way to “democratize” fashion.

Unlike the traditional fashion distribution process, FashionStake allows customers to give designers feedback on their pieces before they are produced in quantity, Weng noted.

“We’re very excited to be ushering in a new way of introducing fashion to the marketplace,” she said.

According to Weng, designers were also “extremely excited” about the idea.

Nicholas K, one of the four designers currently featured on FashionStake, plans to extend personal invitations to its New York Fashion Week runway show at Lincoln Center to six of its FashionStake supporters, according to a press release.

Charles A. LaCalle ’11, who also started a fashion company, said that FashionStake could be a boon to some designers.

“If FashionStake works out, it will solve a huge problem for some designers. After working in luxury consulting, I’ve realized that securing funding to produce collections is one of the major problems in the fashion industry”, he said.

However, according to LaCalle, FashionStake may find it difficult to overcome consumer psychology.

“People [consumers] don’t want to buy clothes in the future. They want it now,” LaCalle said.

—Staff writer Sirui Li can be reached at