The Elope Dress, designed for the vastly underserved secret-wedding market. Gluttony Pants, featuring an expanding waistline in three size settings (piglet, sow, boar). Sock Insurance, a nifty $13 add-on for a year of single-sock replacements. These are some of the tweet-friendly products unleashed by San Francisco-based online fashion upstart Betabrand, whose founder, Chris Lindland, is on a mission to create the world's first truly social clothing company.
"My thought was if the company could be more like a blog, we'd get a lot of attention," he says. He points to Betabrand's core strategy of injecting shareable, conversational elements into every design by feeding off the news cycle and blogger communities. For example, the company's Executive Pinstripe Hoodie (part of the West Coast Workwear collection) was released to coincide with Facebook's IPO--resulting in "out of control" press coverage, Lindland says. (It still makes up 25 percent of Betabrand's total sales.) Meanwhile, the bestselling Bike to Work pants blew up thanks to support from the passionate biker blogosphere.
Since launching in August 2010, Betabrand has released nearly 200 products for men and women; it currently issues new creations at a rate of two or three per week. The plan is to launch 20 to 30 items per week by the end of 2013, with at least half designed through crowdsourcing and collaborations with outside designers.
Social engagement is critical. Betabrand customers have made it clear they don't just like to buy the latest designs--they want to be seen wearing them. The company's ongoing "Model Citizen" campaign gives customers the chance to show their love for products like Disco Pants (think mirrored disco balls, as pants) or Cordarounds (horizontal corduroy) by submitting personal photos and videos. Lindland says submissions add up to a "mad mountain" of content.
- Arts & Entertainment