Have you ever spied a pair of pants so ugly you wondered how it ever made it to the rack? Or coveted a dress that never made it past the concept sketch because the designer was short on funds? FashionStake, a crowd-funded online marketplace with “democratize fashion” as its motto, is shaking up that status quo by manufacturing pieces you actually want to buy. The website is inviting fashion-savvy shoppers to browse its growing stable of emerging designers and their fresh-off-the-mannequin collections. By voting for your favorites, you help decide which pieces get made—and more importantly, don’t, which saves tons of fabric from going into clothes that nobody buys.

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HIGH STAKES

Vivien Weng launched FashionStake in September after concluding that the fashion industry was broken. While working with bold-name designers like Elie Tahari and Escada, as well as emerging designers like Jeffrey Monteiro, Weng noticed how difficult it was for designers to reach their target audience, even with extraordinary collections.

By voting for or pledging to buy your favorites, you help decide which pieces get made—and more importantly, don’t.

At the same time, she saw insane price tags dangling from many department store items—even the blah ones. Sick of a system that made zero sense, Weng teamed up with fellow Harvard Business School grad Daniel Gulati to usher in a new era of “designer-direct fashion.” Et voilà, FashionStake was born.

How FashionStake works is really quite simple. You can help “crowd-fund” a brand-new piece into production by browsing the collections, finding the clothes you want to buy, and then pre-ordering them. If enough people love the same piece, it gets made and everyone receives a generous discount. Can’t wait? You can also shop for pieces that are already in production—these ship immediately—and vote up the ones you love most.

+ FashionStake