Women's gear, up first
Skirt Sports is taking crowdsourcing to the next level, asking its customers to become its designers
At some point in your consumer life, you’ve probably wondered: “Why doesn’t somebody make a [fill in the blank]?”
Skirt Sports is answering that call, for women at least.
Since its 2004 founding by pro triathlete Nicole DeBoom, Skirt Sports has remained dedicated to making stuff that active women want and need. But with its new Sewing Room campaign, the active-wear company is looking beyond popular mainstays and collecting ideas from women who still haven’t found what they’re looking for.
The project solicited apparel ideas from more than 100 women, who submitted designs for products they wished they could buy—like a high-waisted skirt that eliminates dreaded muffin-tops and a bike skirt with built-in chamois. Customers voted on the candidates, which were winnowed down to five top options. The funding phase ended last Tuesday, and buyers can now preorder their favorites.
“This is a way for women to publicly stake their claim,” says DeBoom. “We do listen to women and read their e-mails, but that doesn’t always aggregate into proven demand.” Translation: one e-mail to customer service does not a movement make. And small companies such as Skirt Sports need some assurance that the products they launch are going to sell.
The Sewing Room project emerged as a way for the company to stay innovative without exposing itself to big financial losses. Its inspiration was the Gotta Go Running Skirt, which Skirt Sports offered via Kickstarter last year. “This company made the very first running skirt, and at the time, that was crazy and unique,” says DeBoom. “But the trapdoor skirt [with an opening to let women pee without baring their bums] was next level.” Though quirky, it proved to be a hit: 742 backers pledged $61,026 to bring the Gotta Go to market.
So Skirt Sports decided to find out what other products women would gamble on. “Women are noticing that we’re listening to them,” says DeBoom. “It’s impossible to get exactly what you want, but we’re developing a relationship where customers can influence what’s made.”
That helps a small operation like Skirt Sports survive in the highly competitive world of women’s apparel. “This could be a very big initiative for us that lives indefinitely,” says DeBoom. “We want to be able to act on the risky and unique."