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Catwalk Genius site helps fund designers

A new online retail concept that allows the public to invest in new designers has been launched.

Catwalk Genius is the brainchild of former banker Helen Brown. The website’s Back a Designer section allows customers to invest in designers and brands in exchange for a share of the final profit.

Shares in the labels can be bought for £11 each, and when a designer has 5,000 shares, the money pledged will be used to produce their collection. The collection will then be sold online with the profits shared between the designer and the shareholders.

Designers include womens-wear labels Laura Lees, Lil’c Couture and Nicola de Main, with up-and-coming designers such as Queer Kinks and PopRina also looking for funds.
The site – www.catwalkgenius.com – is spilt into several sections, with the work of established designers for sale in The Boutique area, while up-and-coming designers’ collections are sold in The Shop Floor. The site also features The Sample Sale area, which showcases past season Sale stock and samples. Other sections include a fashion news area and a blog.

Brown said: “I decided to establish a business that uses customer interaction and new technology. I’m really excited by the prospect for future designers. I looked at companies that successfully use this collective technology already, such as www.sellaband.com in the music sector, and applied the same principles to the fashion industry. Our back a designer funding initiative houses around 30 designers and we are quite selective.”

Brown said there are about 300 designers on the site, with some established designers also interested in the funding scheme “because it’s tough out there at the moment”.

Brown predicted cautious growth for the business next year. She added: “There are some advantages to being an etailer and launching a new concept in a difficult climate. At a time like this people are often open to new business models. The online market isn’t mature yet, so it’s a good time to launch into the retail fashion space.”

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