Web Startup Cut On Your Bias Lets Shoppers Influence Runway Shows
The last time New York held its Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, this past February, fashion designer-turned entrepreneur Louis Monoyudis launched his online platform for bringing consumers into the apparel design process.
The website, Cut On Your Bias, allows fashion designers to post pieces they’re working on with potential options for variations. Customers can vote on the combination of colors, fabrics, and styles they think should make it into the final collection, with the winning selections later available for purchase on the site.
As Fashion Week hits the city again, Monoyudis is using his social design startup to let customers decide which pieces make it down the runway in fashion shows from designers Carlos Campos and Timo Weiland on Sunday, and designer Suzanne Rae’s Tuesday evening show.
“We really wanted to hone in on the excitement that is inherently generated around New York Fashion Week,” Monoyudis says. “We work with a lot of New York-based designers, and we wanted to invite the opportunity for customers to interact with the design decisions before they came down the catwalk.”
Monoyudis received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and worked briefly in advertising before going back to school to get his degree in fashion design at Parsons School of Design. (Going from Harvard to fashion is actually a common path, you may recall). He worked for other fashion labels for about 10 years, and when it came time to launch his own line, he wanted to make design more social.
“I thought, ‘How great would it be if I could put together the world’s first social design collection?’” he says. “Then I had friends and other designers who wanted to be part of it as well. I had this ‘aha’ moment and thought ‘Let’s turn this into a business as a platform for designers.’”
The startup aims to bring one to two new designers to the platform per week, and keep the voting up for a few weeks. Most designers have created more options than they can fit into a single runway show, so they aren’t working last-minute to create the winning pieces. The same goes for the collections they design and sell through Cut on Your Bias, Monoyudis says.
“It’s taking the creative capital that they already have—fabrics, sketches—and putting them together in a unique way. They’re not creating an entirely new capsule collection,” he says.
Cut On Your Bias recently closed a friends-and-family round of financing, and relies on sales through its e-commerce platform for revenues. The startup also sees potential as a marketing platform for brands, Monoyudis says. Shoppers share their votes via social feeds like Facebook and Twitter, and also have profiles indicating which designs they’ve voted for.
“What we found is there’s a huge amount of brand engagement, when people come on and they vote and share interactions on that platform,” he says. “We’re seeing a ton of excitement from the brand about leveraging social in a new way.”
The voting process also shows retailers what consumers are willing to buy, insight that is increasingly sought after as designers are looking to close the gap between what they produce and what actually sells.
It’s a strategy also being chased by New York-based Moda Operandi, which allows consumers to pre-order runway collection apparel that often doesn’t even make it into stores. The startup recently announced that it is tapping into these insights on customer buying preferences to launch an e-commerce site for selling in-season merchandise.
While Cut On Your Bias has helped newer independent designers get exposure to engaged consumers, Monoyudis sees the data and insight it offers appealing to more established brands.
“We’re opening up discussions with other retailers—it can be anybody who has a vertical retail channel marketing online,” he says. “The areas that really excite them are the analytics and understanding of consumer demands before you actually go through the production process.”