Louis Monoyudis is the founder of Cut On Your Bias, which allows shoppers to crowd-source designs to put into production. Each week, members vote on which designer’s sketch will become a reality.
Who are some of the designers that you are hoping to add to your site?
We launched with designers in my circle of friends, who luckily are amazing designers, such as Carlos Campos, Antonio Azzuolo and Hyden Yoo. It is always best practice to start with people whom you know, and we are now reaching beyond that core circle. We have also started to branch into home, which is an exciting and thriving market. There are some very exciting names in the works, but I’ll keep those under wraps until we go live with them on the site.
How do people learn about the upcoming sales? Who is your audience?
We send emails to all registered members letting them know about the rotation of events on the site. Of course, social media is a huge push for us, and we have very active Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. Plus, the designers get really excited and help cross-promote. Our audience loves design and wants to be more active in the process.
Are designers featured multiple times in a season? How often will new designers or new items be added?
We would like to bring back designers 2-3 times a year, and we bring on new designers every 1-2 weeks.
Can you tell us a bit about the voting? Why did you decide to use this platform rather than offer swatch choices for a particular garment?
Having been a designer for close to a decade at Calvin Klein, John Varvatos and Tommy Hilfiger, I knew that the most exciting part of that role is the selection of fabric, color and silhouette. I wanted the customer to be faced with some of the same decisions that designers encounter. Of course, that isn’t entirely the case, as with Cut On Your Bias the designers with whom we partner provide the options of fabric, color and silhouette for the consumer to play with. But I can’t tell you how many late nights we spent as designers looking at black foam core boards with flat sketches, swatches and color chips hanging from T-pins, re-arranging and visualizing all the combinations to choose our favorites.
Is there a website model you are following? GILT GROUP?
I think you will be hard pressed to find any fashion/tech company that isn’t in some way influenced by Gilt. While our business model is very different than theirs, we have a tremendous amount of respect for their model and customer acquisition strategies. The difference between Gilt and Cut On Your Bias is that we are full-price, allow for consumer interaction pre-production, and cut orders based on consumer demand. In essence, we attack the supply chain at a very different place than Gilt, but we both work to help designers monetize beyond the traditional retail model.
Why do you think shoppers have such a strong desire for exclusivity these days?
Exclusivity has always defined luxury and taps into core human emotions related to social status and desire. Throw in the semiotic underpinnings of class and cultural allegiance, and you have a potent formula for brands to tap into. Everyone wants to feel special and have their voice heard, and brands that promise exclusivity give shoppers something special, unique and specific. What shoppers are demanding more than ever is exclusivity in experience as well as product. The narrative around shopping and the experience of the purchase also have to deliver something special, unique and specific, which is what we strive to create with Cut On Your Bias.
Do you think the future of retail will be interactive with people designing there own clothes, encouraging friends to shop their favorites and pre-ordering clothes before they even get to try them on?
The future of retail will be centered around innovation in every aspect of the experience and supply chain. We will see advancements with virtual fitting rooms with companies such as Clothia, peer recommendations with apps like Go Try It On, and mass customization with companies like Carrie Hammer and Quincy Apparel. All of these and more will improve customer experiences and increase spending, resulting in benefits for retailers and designers as well.
Do you think retail stores will become extinct?
Absolutely not. Shopping is not just goal oriented. It is social, engaging, experiential, a form of escapism for some and sport for others. What we want to do is to capture some of the elements of traditional shopping to improve the online experience. Online shopping should be social and fun, just like brick and mortar. What we will see is a further confluence of technological advances at point of sale, and experiential marketing that flows more seamlessly from the physical to the virtual.
Do you plan to launch your own collection on the site? If so what would it be called?
This whole idea was actually born from my desire to launch my own collection. I had my “aha moment” for Cut On Your Bias while sorting through years’ worth of bins of sketches, tear sheets, swatches and samples as a starting off point for my collection. Except instead of feeling inspired, I felt paralyzed by too many choices. So I invited some friends over to sort through the good and the bad (and to polish off a few bottles of wine), and that’s when I realized that technology could solve this fundamental problem that every designer and design house faces of feeling the pressure to make the “right” choice from all the possible permutations. I saw an opportunity to minimize the guesswork around what consumers want by simply asking them directly. Similar to a child sitting at the adults’ table who is spoken about as if he isn’t there, customers finally get to raise their hand and express their bias.