Last November, ModCloth, an online retailer based in San Francisco, held a contest called “Make the Cut”.

Usually, the company ModCloth created by a married couple, Susan and Eric Koger, offers clothing and accessories from 600 independent designers. But last winter and for two weeks, Customers were invited to submit clothing sketches, with the hope to have their creations produced and sold on the retailer website.

1,900 submissions, 100 pre-selected sketches, 7 winners 

The contest was a success. “We were swimming in a veritable sea of darling designs” Susan Gregg Koger said after receiving more than 1,900 submissions. Susan Gregg Koger selected her favourite 100 sketches and let customers vote for their favorites on ModCloth’s Facebook fan page. The event “Make the Cut” brought a crazy amount of hits and more than 10,000 votes and 1,000 comments.

 

The twelve garments that the internautes helped design and vote for are now available for purchase

Each winner received a $500 prize per item produced, and their names appear on the clothes labels. Depending of the sales, future contests might include a “revenue sharing” program, in which winner designers could receive shares of  the profits generated by their designs. Since the collection launch earlier this week, some of the items are already sold out!

A good marketing strategy

If ModCloth wants to offer opportunities for designers to have their designs produced and sold, the contest was also a way for the company to involve its customers and better target their tastes.

“The way most of the industry works is, they produce a design on a large scale, then they send it out to stores and hope customers buy it,” Eric Koger says. “Ours is a more lean and agile approach. We involve the customer and get feedback earlier in the process.”

Susan Gregg Koger conclued: “We’d like to help every designer get a real customer for their product”

 

Images & video: ModCloth

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