We love a good DIY fashion project, but we're nowhere near trying out for Project Runway. Enter new Boston-based label, ShopRagHouse, where you submit your designs, the community votes, and the winners are produced by pros. Since they just launched their capsule collection yesterday through Kickstarter (along with a brand new website!), we talked to Joana and Bridgette about their inspiration for ShopRagHouse, how it all started, and if anyone can really be a designer:
Where did the idea for ShopRagHouse come from?
It was actually in the midst of launching a fashion line that the idea for ShopRagHouse was born. Joana had a stroke of genius when she saw how difficult it was for emerging designers to actually get their work on the market. She suggested we start a platform that would make that process easier and make fashion more accessible for fashion lovers everywhere. We aren't just looking for emerging designers on ShopRagHouse anymore either, we want to hear from anyone who thinks they have something to add to the conversation around style and fashion- whether to submit designs, to vote, and of course to pledge to support the winning designs and designers.
Will ShopRagHouse have a signature look? What, if any, trends are you seeing in submissions?
As far as our site goes, we hope to keep it as minimalist as possible so that the designs themselves can shine. Within the submissions, we've seen all sorts of perspectives - and we hope that continues. I think a big theme has been the use of bright colors, but we've been wondering how that may be affected by the current shift to black and white occurring in the traditional fashion market.
We make it a point not to curate (although we do reserve the right to under certain circumstances like the inclusion of hate speech for example) and we never will. As convinced as we are that we are fashionable (wink wink) and can spot the next big trend in fashion ahead of the curve (wink, wink, wink), we don’t want to dictate to anyone what fashion is. We didn’t want ShopRagHouse to turn into our own personal Pinterest spin-off where we got to decide what was worth sharing and what wasn’t. We think ultimately the things that make it to production will be the things that people want to wear - and that the best designs will win. And even if they don't, even if we hate every stitch of clothing that we ever produce, we are committed to this experiment in democracy because we really believe that there is something to be gained through the collective pursuit of fashion or the Fashion Collective as we like to call it. That's really the unifying esprit du corps behind the ShopRagHouse name and we hope that always continues.
What's the process? How does a piece go from design to reality?
On ShopRagHouse, users submit original design ideas which are loaded on to the site. We then host recurring "Project Runway" style competitions where our members vote for the pieces they like the best. Winning designs are made into samples at our manufacturers in Massachusetts. The photos of the samples are loaded onto the site and members can then pledge to buy the designs they like best. Designs that meet a minimum number of pledges, which varies depending on the design, are produced and shipped to buyers. Winning designers receive a percentage of the profits on all of their winning designs sold on the site.
At every step in the process, we ask buyers for their feedback through comment sections on the site. If you don't like a hem, or you think the sleeves are too short, we want to know and work with our designers to produce the best possible finished product.
What if you're not an artist? Can you submit a design?
We literally believe that ANYONE can be a designer on ShopRagHouse.com, even two former lawyers with a penchant for bold prints and colors and high fashion at cutthroat prices and absolutely no formal technical or design skills whatsoever. You don't need to be a world class artist to submit a design on ShopRagHouse, you just have to an idea for an original item of clothing. We offer a template that users are encouraged to use and an online paint application. For a $25 fee, users can have one of our artists turn their sketch into a really stunning fashion illustration as well. We've tried to make the design process as straightforward as possible and are working hard behind the seams to simplify it even more.
Why did you choose to start your business in Boston?
Boston was the birthplace of the American Revolution - we though it'd be a great place to launch the fashion revolution too! In all seriousness, I actually grew up in Massachusetts and Joana studied here while we attended law school so we both have roots in the area, but more importantly, we wanted to tap into the exciting and emerging fashion startup scene that is developing in Boston. It's also nice to be this close to NYC, but not immersed fully in the traditional fashion industry. We really are trying to rally against the idea that fashion belongs to Vogue or to Mercedes Benz Fashion week. Fashion doesn't live under the tent at Lincoln Center, and, as much as we value her opinion, fashion doesn't belong to Anna Wintour either (but we do hope she won't get mad at us for saying so).
Thanks for chatting with us, ladies!
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About the Authors
Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out
|Tara Bellucci is a Boston-based writer that lives for fonts, food, and flea market finds. Whether decorating jars of her homemade jam for The Boston More »|