Avani Patel was in law school when she started her own fashion line with her sister. She was working in Chicago, where she’s from, and got to know the ins and outs of being a young designer within the city’s smaller fashion community. What did she learn? “Creatives don’t necessarily care for the business side, but running a fashion line is business.” Still in beta, TrendSeeder, which Patel launched three months ago, a decade after her first brush with the fashion industry, is developing into an ideal venue for fostering young designers.
An incubation program, offered to certain candidates, helps them along from a full business perspective, including social media development, sales, dealing with buyers, and overall brand building. Patel and her team find designers at trade shows, and others reach out to them, but either way, they only take on those serious about breaking into the business. The site also showcases products and bios from designers with whom they partner but who aren’t in the incubation program. Except for items that are available elsewhere, the pieces on the site are limited editions, usually produced in a run of 20 or fewer. Trendseeder takes care of all the packaging (which is designed to look like a gift) and shipping (what was that about creatives being bad at the business side, again?).
With 40 labels for both men and women in the pipeline, the company focuses on designers at a range of points in their careers, from those in their first season to others with more experience who aren’t quite yet household names. (One fun example: Althea Harper, who you may recall as one of the nicest contestants ever to grace Project Runway). What they all have in common is focus and high quality production (designers can come from anywhere in the world, and do, but they all produce locally to where they’re from — no outsourcing). “From the pattern maker on up, it’s a good way to involve everyone in the process,” Patel points out.
With a focus on innovative, non-trendy design and a median price point of $250, TrendSeeder’s customer demographic encompass “young professionals between 21 and 35, either just getting into their careers or who already have some discretionary income. The customer is someone who’s up for discovery, who’s traveling the world and isn’t afraid to try something once,” Patel explains.
And though they may be a young operation, Patel already has a charitable partnership underway. TrendSeeder works with Minds Matter, an organization helping underprivileged teens get into college. The start-up presents a pop-up shop at Minds Matter’s New York and San Francisco galas. All proceeds go to the non-profit, and it’s an effective way to introduce TrendSeeder’s range of designers to potential new clients.
So, what’s next for the site? Innovative ways to promote their designers: a recent collaboration presents a fun challenge. Five designers were each paired with a blogger (like Claire Geist of De Lune and Sonia Evers of Runway Hippie) and charged with coming up with a piece based on said blogger’s aesthetic. Of course, the results will be exclusively shoppable via TrendSeeder, in limited edition form.
For consumers looking for unusual style they’ll keep for life, TrendSeeder is fostering the roster of designers they’re looking for.