Within the fashion industry, the process of getting samples for editorial photo shoots is known for being overly complicated — both for magazine editors and for the designers and showrooms providing the product. Now a new site, The Runthrough, aims to change all that by circumventing paper lookbooks, and making the whole operation more like Netflix-style online shopping.
The Runthrough was founded by former accessories editors Meggan Crum and Mandy Tang (both used to work at W, though Tang also has an MBA from Columbia). The result of their start-up is a model of efficiency for the fashion world. Design houses send Crum and Tang watermarked images of their collections, which the women put on the site. Editors, who’ve been give login names and passwords, can peruse what’s available by designer, season, price, and category. When the editor checks out, so to speak, a request for the item goes out to the fashion house. With it goes the requesting editor’s information and a set of pick-up and return dates. The designers are responsible for shipping.
What’s being accomplished doesn’t differ too much from the previous system. The Runthrough merely puts all the pertinent information in one place, cutting out the inefficient process. As Tang told WWD, “It’s like a one-stop shop for editors.” It also preserves users’ privacy, since, even with everything couched on one site, designers can’t access each others’ collections and editors can’t see other editors’ requests. (And if you don’t have a login, you really can’t see anything at all).
The site is still in beta — it will officially launch in October — and it’s limited to accessories. Brands who’ve already signed up range from Cartier to Tory Burch to Pamela Love — and these big names bode well, since they’re the ones who have to pay to use the site. Fashion houses can opt for yearly or seasonal memberships (fees start at $6,000), while the site is free for editors.
Will The Runthrough be embraced? We can’t imagine it won’t be — what could get interesting is if competitors launch similar models, in a sense returning the system of pulling samples to its more disjointed days. But The Runthrough is such a good idea, it’s hard to imagine it won’t attract copycats.