April 27, 2009

indie designers and small business


Due to the decentralized channels of distribution and exhibition, it is now possible for many designers to own their own small companies. The internet has created many opportunities for new companies that sell many independent designers lines. The following are websites that professionally represent and distribute independent designers in their online stores.

Even large-scale businesses has caught onto this trend of small, independent designer lines. Urban Outfitters has started featuring and selling independent designer lines, made in collaboration with the Urban Outfitters brand.

April 21, 2009

challenging structure

Because they do not fit into clearly defined institutional categorizations that are perhaps outmoded by the current distribution of economic and creative activity, many fashion designers have had to make their own scene. In a slumping economy, they have to see and create opportunity were it does not yet exist. To subvert the traditional system of ownership of companies, many designers have chosen to go local, by distributing and selling their work in local galleries and boutiques.

The design collective is a leading boutique for minneapolis-based designers to show and sell their work.

Additionally some people have developed their own approach to entrepreneurship through the opportunities afforded through the internet and start-up business. Through websites such as e-bay and etsy, people can join existing web infrastructures to get exposure and sell their work.

Additionally, there are lots of smaller start-up design businesses, of people making their own fashion brands. Such an example is Calpurnia Peach, a fashion brand started by the design partnership of two U of M design students. Through a combination of local and internet distribution, they are making themselves known in the Twin Cities and beyond.

The core structure of the local scene are interdependent on each other for local exposure, publicity, photography, distribution, sales, exhibition, ect. Their collective activity often reveals itself in work that looks very produced. Yet, being in on this core group of collaborators is not everyone's ideal, as some find it stifling and socially petty. Even though this central structure calls many of the shots locally, there exist alternatives to the confines of this system.

Interestingly, some people have used the internet to avoid and circumvent the local social structure of the Twin Cities fashion scene. One of my informants is frustrated by the local scene, and sees the internet as a way to remain creatively, economically and socially autonomous from the artistic and promotional interdependence of local fashion. The work she makes does not entail flashy and elaborately-staged fashion shoots that the central structure typically creates. She is more interested in being creative for herself, not for the promotional aspect. While some people use the internet to promote not necessarily their work, as much as they promote themselves as people and their social roles. Through my fieldwork, it appears that there are generally antagonistic groups, one that despises in the social flaunting of the fashion scene, and the one that participates, perhaps gratuitously, in it. The informal position-taking on this activity (going to fashion parties to be seen, photographed and flaunted on the internet versus going to a fashion show to see and participate in the fashion) seems to define two general different groups, the central figures versus the more peripheral figures.

For those who participate in national or international online communities, the internet is a source for income and expression that does not depend on the workings of this relatively bounded central structure of fashion producers. For such designers, the internet is a creative space, where one can 'exhibit' per se, to a global audience works that may not be on the same page as the local scene, affording it a greater amount of social autonomy as it is removed from direct and local sanctions. It is a creative space, both vulnerable in its public visibility yet secure in its isolation from the immediate, local world.

The internet's lack of curatorial oversight has emerged in new forms of exclusivity taking place on the digital landscape. Take a look at the 'blogosphere'