Polyvore Launches Designer Collective

Social style network becomes fashion incubator

Whether it’s conquering social media, e-commerce or online advertising, up-and-coming fashion designers often have a tough time establishing an Internet presence. Starting this week, social style platform Polyvore—currently boasting more than 20 million monthly users—will be making that process a whole lot easier for a select group of indie brands with the official launch of its Designer Collective program.

Polyvore selected four small brands—accessories designer Alejandro Ingelmo, jewelry line Dannijo, footwear collection Madison Harding and accessories designer Meredith Wendell—to take part in its inaugural Designer Collective series last June. The Polyvore team mentored the designers, taught them how to use the site’s tools (like “clipping” products for members to use on their collage boards), helped them develop e-commerce platforms and connected them with the site’s most influential members. The designers will also be piloting Polyvore’s newest native ad programs, and the site is launching contests in which users will be asked to create fashion boards around the designers’ items.

Since starting the program, the designers’ exposure on Polyvore has increased by an average of 4000 percent, and Polyvore has become the No. 1 referral site for all four designers (half of Ingelmo’s traffic comes through Polyvore, according to Polyvore CEO Jess Lee). Two of the brands, Madison Harding and Meredith Wendell, have begun offering e-commerce for the first time. They're also collaborating with Polyvore bloggers to design special-edition products for retail; the latter, a handbag, has already been picked up by Bloomingdale's stores.

“It is really hard to make it in fashion, and we want to make it easier and more democratic and offer independent designers access to larger audiences,” explained Lee, who described the site as “a stepping-stone for budding fashion designers, stylists, bloggers—a place where anyone could be discovered.”

Lee hopes the initiative will expand in the coming year, making Polyvore an incubator for rising fashion stars. “We’d love to continue to grow and build the program and continue to work with independent designers,” she said. “We believe that Polyvore is a great place to raise brand awareness.”