Source: Business of Fashion, Nov 2011
Lookk is a curated marketplace where selected designers can reach a global customer base. “We do not believe in completely open marketplaces as they usually leave the consumer unsatisfied with production quality and product price,” said Klinger. Similarly, Lookk also offers designers web-based tools to manage marketing and fulfillment.
But unlike other players in the space, Lookk offers emerging designers a genuine end-to-end solution that goes all the way to manufacturing, a powerful differentiator for young labels for whom sourcing reliable and cost-effective production is a constant challenge. Lookk empowers designers to not just promote and sell, but also produce pieces, using the company’s in-house production facilities and network of manufacturers. “When we enter into a contract to manufacture, the designer will receive 5 percent commission on the retail price of each piece sold — very competitive considering we handle all associated retail, distribution, marketing and customer care costs,” said a spokesperson for the company, who declined to reveal the commission the company charges brands who have already established their own production, stating only that “buying and wholesale prices are worked out on individual terms with each designer and are competitive with industry standards.”
Lookk has also far surpassed competitors in fundamentally reimagining fashion retail in the context of the open social web, harnessing the voice of the end consumer to quickly understand market demand and drive more effective business decisions. When designers upload lookbooks to the site, consumers feed back their preferences via a voting mechanism, generating valuable data that directly influences which pieces Lookk’s panel of buyers decides to put into production and sell via the online store.
“We want to build a retail model which truly leverages the possibilities of the internet,” said Klinger. “If we see market demand in a new designer’s products, we can control the full process from design to finished product up to the moment of delivery,” he added. “By directly bringing consumers and designers together and controlling key elements in the resulting value chain we can lower risk and make quicker decisions when bringing new products to market.”
Indeed, the kind of detailed consumer demand data generated by Lookk, combined with shorter production cycles, means the business can produce in smaller, demand-driven batches, significantly reducing risk and improving efficiency. But ultimately, the benefits of this approach extend beyond balance sheets alone. If adopted more widely, this type of social retail model could have powerful and far reaching positive effects on diversity and creativity in the fashion industry at large, enabling traditionally risk-averse retailers to embrace many more emerging designers and still turn a tidy profit.