News & Runway

Growing Trend: Would You Buy Designer Direct?



There are more struggling designers out there than any of us covering (and coveting) high fashion realize. From Idaho to Texas, aspiring designers want you to buy their clothing. But how to get it to you? A new website called the 19th Amendment  (yes, it refers to the U.S. Constitution's 19th amendment and yes, may be a bit pretentious) has launched in an effort to help out young up-and-comers. The site currently is in a serious beta phase, allowing you to "support" designers as well as buy their clothing directly. But it got me wondering, how much appeal is there in buying directly from unproven design talent? 

Though it doesn't derail their creative talent, proper execution simply takes a lot of time, a lot of practice and a solid manufacturer. In viewing the first designers featured on 19th AmendmentI would definitely tread lightly. They seem extremely fresh out of design school, as do their pieces and looks. Would I buy a piece without knowing where it was made, what it's made of and without a frame of reference for sizing? Would you?

Before you decide, know this site isn't the first of its kind. In fact, there are several other e-tailers offering a designer-direct experience, toting the value of cutting out the middleman and offering pieces at otherwise reduced prices. Check them out, and tell us below if you'd stake your money on a newbie or prefer to trust the tried and true brands sold in established stores.


The Deal: Of course you've heard of Etsy, but have you tried it? The options are so varied and so many, it can be intimidating to jump in. This is the grandmother of designer-direct shopping. No curation, no filter, just artisans putting their hard work and creativity on display. Everything for your closet, home and lifestyle is available on this site. If you can spare the time, it can be a great way to find unique, affordable, gifts. 

What's Cool: The crowd gets to prove the seller's stuff is legit and high quality. Each seller has a profile on which their wares and service can be reviewed, rated and loved. If there's anything sketchy, you can report it to the powers that be at Etsy. If a seller has good feedback, you can have some measure of trust your experience will follow suit. Etsy also lets you create wish lists to keep track of your fave items.

Bauble Bar: 

The Deal: Bauble Bar deals in well, baubles. Pretties. Jewelry only. This definitely helps take care of fit fears. And in this video on Inc.'s website, the co-founders talk about how their low price point may imply low quality, but it's just not the case. They insist they cut out extra costs, and don't skimp on the goods. Their jewels are just as nice, and in some cases exactly the same, as department store fare. 

What's Cool: Their editors and buyers know what a woman wants. Definitely love the monogram section, and the rest of the pieces are hip and cool as you please. With what looks to be an average price point below $50, they deliver on their promise of affordability.

Of A Kind: 

The Deal: Of a kind has a special angle. Each one of their pieces is a limited edition. Hence the name: 30 of a kind, 50 of a kind, etc. They buy directly from new designers on your behalf, reducing the end price. And promise their quality control process is on point. Not just jewelry, they sell accessories and clothing from bags and hats to scarves, watches and shoes. It's pretty much whatever they fall in love with. Their prices aren't cheap, but they're much less expensive than typical boutique or high-end department store prices.

What's Cool: Like Bauble Bar, their taste level is right up there. Unlike Bauble Bar, they provide extensive information about each of their designers in an entertaining way that's completely addictive. From videos that show the designer and manufacturing process to articles and bios, they engender a feeling of trust by being totally transparent. 


The Deal: Currently only available in the UK and France, you can bet it'll move stateside if proven successful. Made offers designer furniture straight from the source. Same story, buying from independent designers and eschewing brick-and-mortar markups allows you to get cool, of-the-moment furniture without having to drive out to Ikea or Art Van, or breaking your bank account — theoretically. I don't have a lot of experience pricing furniture, so I'll have to take their word on good pricing. 

What's Cool: There's a wide variety of design options, unlike branded furniture stores such as Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware. Pretty much every style is represented. They tell you what the retail value is, then tell you their price, making a purchase very tempting indeed. Though, for us North Americans, we'll have to wait for our own version.