Last week we talked about the rise in niche American-made men’s wear, thanks to Kickstarter. Start-up labels specializing in dress shirts to pocket square are turning to the crowdfunding site to get their businesses off the ground, and they’re finding a more than willing audience. The trend seems to be crossing into denim with a good back story.
A while back we were charmed by Bluer Denim, a Portland-based, all-American-made jeansmaker for men and women that found its footing via Kickstarter. They’re indicative of the archetypical denim brand that succeeds through crowd-funding — domestically manufactured, socially responsible, or unusually innovative (Bluer Denim is about to launch a Warby Parker-style home try-on model), or, ideally, some combination of all three. Along with them are a raft of new, affordable yet premium denim brands who are getting the boost they need through a public call for funding.
The Kickstarter model seems to apply particularly well to jeans because it makes it easy to show potential customers what they’re getting, letting them vote with their dollars, and in turn, assuring a fledgling brand that they’ve got a ready market. Accessibly priced yet high quality denim lends itself well to this kind of showcasing, as do single-product companies who only need to highlight one hero product.
It also doesn’t take much, in the way of the actual funds themselves. Most of the successful brands who reach their goals are seeking total investments from as low as $20,000. An organic denim and tee line, Eva & Paul, got off the ground with a mere $22,000, while the men’s brand Rpmwest kicked off with $104,000 after reaching an initial $20,000 goal in less than two days.
Not only do these brands not need a lot, but when they actually exceed their goals, they get a lift that’s worth, mentally, at least as much as the dollar amount itself. For a new company to stick a toe in the water and subsequently receive five times its hoped-for funding, there’s no better boost during the unsure, early days.