Curated Crowd co-founders Kristina Kuzmina and Ada Zhao


NEW PLATFORM: Curated Crowd has launched a crowdfunding and e-commerce platform for emerging designers, WWD has learned.

The concept was led by chief executive officer and cofounder Ada Yi Zhao and Kristina Kuzmina, who believed that there was another avenue for new labels to launch globally. The platform, which offers e-commerce, will launch brands including Poan, Iva Ksenevich Millinery, JN by JN Llovet, LubiMenya and Naked Bruce.

“[Digitization] and technology are transforming almost every single industry today, from financial to medical industries,” said Zhao. “Yes, the fashion industry as one of the most influential ones in the world is struggling to cope with such changes. Curated Crowd was born to maximize the power of [digitization] and to empower the two key players in the fashion ecosystem: designers and consumers. The idea is cut out the traditional middleman to enable designers with authentic brand stories to connect with their fashion consumer patrons directly.

“Curated Crowd is looking to be the next disruptor of the fashion-tech industry, following great examples such as Net-a-porter and FarFetch,” added Zhao. “The business is determined to address the significant inefficiencies in the traditional fashion supply chain and bring back the long-lost authentic conversations between designers and patrons, with the power of digital platforms and social media channels. We are nurturing the next generation of designers and will be providing a platform for them to launch new brands, while encouraging projects with social and cultural impact. The entire world is watching and talking about fashion — from politicians [and] financiers to athletes. There are social, cultural, political and artistic meanings to each fashion creation and we want to give these young designers the platform to do that.”

A member of the BFC Fashion Trust, Zhao’s background has revolved around investment banking, working at Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital. She delved into fashion and aided in the launch of Poan and Zhoulii in 2015. Russian-born Kuzmina has worked in marketing and sales for companies including L’Oréal Russia, Maison Margiela, Cartier, Harrods and Jaguar.

“Designers can raise funds directly,” said Kuzmina, “without the need to give away the shares in their company, from their end consumers, i.e. fashion patrons around the world for their dream projects — be it a new collection, a new fashion film, a book or even a catwalk show. Through the crowdfunding projects, they have the unique opportunity to build a strong bond with their patrons directly, which is incredibly difficult for emerging designers with a limited budget.”

The platform devoted to up-and-coming talent aims to provide funding, mentoring and a direct sales channel to the brand’s consumer. This initiative serves as a digital model where funding is received directly from patrons through a rewards-based system. In exchange for their financial contributions, patrons are given “fashion experiences” including previews, access to purchase limited-edition items or preordering. The platform also offers consultancy services for young designers on topics including business planning, omnichannel strategy, production, sourcing and financial. Designers can submit a pre-application on the web site to discuss their needs and other special projects.

The company has enlisted a number of advisers including Marianna Satanas, vice president of e-commerce at DKNY and former head of e-commerce at Mr Porter, Net-a-porter Group; Michelle De Conto, business support adviser at the British Fashion Council; Lainey Sheridan-Young, head of the branded lifestyle division at IW Capital; Nathan Medlock, partner at Zouk Capital; Corinne Michaela Flick, founder and chair of Convoco Foundation, and Rasha Khawaja, founder and ceo of Toucan Ventures.

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