The sharing economies of the digital age have taught us that many hands make light work. And new brand, Schulz By Crowd – who crowdsource their clothing designs from a network of Scandinavian fashion designers and print makers – epitomises this very modern means of creation.
“So much of what we do is based around community” explains founder, Marie Schulz.
“It’s this idea of helping and pitching in together. We already have shared cars with Uber and shared homes with Airbnb. I think it fits the time that we are in!”
The fashion brand – founded in April 2015 – is made up of a mosaic of different individual designers, both new graduates and more experienced names, who submit their designs as part of an online platform of creatives curated by the Schulz By Crowd team.
It’s an innovative approach to fashion design, giving new designers the opportunity to gain recognition and a foothold within an industry which is notoriously difficult to crack. Every garment tag includes a biography and a hand-drawn illustration of the individual designer; transparently sharing the story of the piece with the customer, from design right through to its manufacture.
The GOTS certified company also has a strong focus on sustainability, from sourcing the right suppliers to using organic cotton in their ranges.
The concept for Schulz By Crowd originated during a lightbulb moment in logistics class when Marie was studying at Copenhagen Business School; “We talked about this new way of running your organisation where you can harness way more power.”
Marie, who stems from a family of entrepreneurs and so has business in her blood, self-financed Schulz By Crowd from money she had previously invested into a family company when she was just 18 years old. This meant she and her team of two didn’t have to wait to raise capital, instead they could centre on building up the heart of the business: the community of designers.
“I founded Schulz By Crowd in April and by that summer we were reaching out to the first designers. We went to the graduate shows at the design and fashion schools here; shows like the Future of Fashion. We talked to lots of the designers and told them our story.”
It took around six months to gain traction, but now with 86 designers on board, a SS17 collection and a basics range already established – with SS18 in the pipeline – the platform is truly burgeoning!
“Now people are just signing up themselves; word of mouth has definitely helped. They needed to build trust and faith in us first, and know that we would take care of their designs.”
Nurturing this crowd of creatives both online and offline has been important to Marie utilising a custom-built interface to better cultivate this relationship. The designers work to a brief, the ‘crowd bible’, created by the brand’s skilled in-house team, which encapsulates their hopes for the coming collection.
“We have inspiration walls and mood boards, we find all the colours and the materials. The designers then have three months to look at it, raise any questions, and then submit their designs. Many of them stop by our offices to look at swatches of the fabrics.”
“I was very nervous about that collaborative approach at first, you know, do people want to participate? But we ended up with about 300 prints uploaded for our basics collection! We actually only needed five – so that was amazing!”
Designers can also create their own profile on the platform – adding a biography and their own website – as well as build inspiration walls and mood boards for their ideas. Marie and her team encourage them to be active and engaged within the Schulz By Crowd community – the team runs Friday bars and meet-ups for all involved, as well as sending out a regular newsletter.
“They can also talk to one another privately through the messaging system, or they can talk on the public wall, a bit like Facebook. We want them to communicate about a whole host of other industry stuff, not just Schulz By Crowd related conversations.”
But with so many individual voices, you would be forgiven for wondering whether the Schulz By Crowd brand is lost in amongst the chatter, however, the collection says otherwise.
“Lots of people said to me that I wouldn’t succeed in keeping a cohesive brand, that it would go in lots of different directions but actually in the end I think we could have gathered five collections. People were so great at tapping into the wider identity.”
Marie and her team’s ability to harness the power of collective thinking in order to build a stronger, more ethically aware brand is impressive, particularly given the short space of time in which this has all been achieved in.
“Our company has more creative power than others because we aren’t just one or two designers saying this is the way to go.”
Schulz By Crowd are currently running a kickstarter for their SS17 collection and you can donate here.