Betabrand: Who's Calling the Shots On Fashion

Ever had a design idea you were sure would “break the Internet”? Ever had to alter your favorite garment to make it better? What if you could collaborate with your favorite brand directly? E-commerce and social media have impacted the way people behave as consumers. Fashion is rapidly become a team sport. From power players competing with emergent talent at Paris Fashion Week to African luxury designers taking control of their resources and outcomes to comprehensive efforts of the Russian fashion industry, in my column I have been covering the search for best practices worldwide. Every runway season brings rumors and proclamations of seismic shifts and tectonic changes! Much of it is hype, which makes this story all the more valuable! BETABRAND is one of the businesses driving both the talk and the practice of change within the fashion industry.

It started with a counterintuitive idea of participatory design and now boasts millions of sales and thousands of products in real time development. It publishes digital 3D renderings of concepts and invites users to provide feedback and input until the final product is available for purchase. A niche outlet for shoe and bag design enthusiasts has grown into a major fashion platform in partnership with VF Corporation and Li & Fung, two of the world largest manufacturers working with the likes of Timberland, North Face, Smart Wool, Nike, Disney, Wrangler, and so on. That’s as industryas it gets; and the list keeps growing. I had an opportunity to sit down with Chris Lindland, Founder and CEO of Betabrand, to discuss pros and cons of current retail models, how the most outlandish ideas stabilize business cashflow and if the value of fun and risk in the workplace is overrated.

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