Amanda Curtis & Gemma Sole
Founders Nineteenth Amendment
The only on-demand USA-made apparel platform curating designers
Nineteenth Amendment is a marketplace and manufacturing platform that sells exclusive fashion apparel from independent designers made on demand in the United States. It lets independent designers sell directly to customers without traditional inventory. Founders Amanda Curtis and Gemma Sole discuss the future of fashion retail without inventory.
Where did the idea for Nineteenth Amendment come from? What's the story behind the name?
As most stories do, it all started with some magic - in the form of a Craigslist advertisement. Amanda answered a posting for a fashion designer in Boston and was soon at the helm of an emerging brand that made it all the way to London Fashion Week in its first season. However, without the sales or manufacturing to propel it forward, the brand was dead before it started. Still reeling from that experience, Amanda met co-founder Gemma Sole in a tech incubator programme. Amanda and Gemma worked on the concept part-time, bootstrapping the entire business with under $10,000.
Now, with great creative and technical talent on board, the team is dedicated to building beautiful products and bringing those to consumers: US-made, quality clothing and the technical product that brings those pieces to life. Hustle is a key component of success in the fashion industry and at Nineteenth Amendment. The name came from the idea that talent and hustle should be what makes brands successful. Our platform allows shoppers to choose who is going to be the next big name in fashion by voting with their wallet.
What was the initial seed fund your company received? Who are the major investors in Nineteenth Amendment?
We have received under $500,000 in investment till now. The major investor is Brand Foundry VC.
Nineteenth Amendment partnered with Macy's and other leading retailers to sell Made in America designer wear. Do you see consumers making a conscious decision to buy garments made in the United States? Is there a shift?
There is a shift but it is not necessarily patriotic. The US-made speaks more to the quality of the garment and the condition in which it is made - ethically, locally and professionally.
How big do you think is the market for on-demand clothing?
We see the market for on-demand clothing being the same as general apparel market for certain categories and price points. When you see players like Amazon investing in patents for on-demand production and the willingness of millennial customers to wait for products that speak to their core values, the inventoried apparel and on-demand apparel markets converge at certain price points and for a certain customer. We don't just offer a piece of apparel. We offer fashion-as-experience from inspiration to your doorstep.
How do you pick designers who sell their creations on your platform?
We curate all designers on our platform. A designer must apply and be accepted in order to sell and we make sure they meet a number of aesthetic and professional criteria before inviting them on board.
Which product categories are faring well in menswear and womenswear at Nineteenth Amendment? Which new categories do you plan to diversify into?
Womenswear does very well. We plan to add more jewellery and accessories in 2018.
What are the challenges you face as a young fashion-tech company and being advocates of slow-fashion?
As a company that straddles the fashion industry and technology in a very real way, it is often hard to find investors that understand both worlds well enough to see the opportunity. On the venture capital side, explaining and educating investors on some of the very non-intuitive and old school practices still taking place in the fashion industry can be a time consuming exercise. For example, in the question you asked, you are already assuming someone knows what slow fashion means...if they don't it's a lot longer of a conversation.
There is a rise in instant gratification among consumers too. Many high-end labels let consumers purchase designer garments right off the runway. How do you compete with that?
Some high end labels did try out 'see now buy now', but they typically don't have a turnaround as fast as that of our designers, which is 4-6 weeks. Right now, larger brands will typically add those orders into their wholesale production schedule which is 6-8 months out for final delivery.
We are able to shorten the timeline with our proprietary technology - a lightweight product lifecycle management - and process. We have just partnered officially with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and are looking forward to help more established brands pre-sell garments with quick turn production in the United States.
What is your USP? How is it different from other on-demand online apparel platforms?
For shoppers, we are the only on-demand USA-made apparel platform curating independent designers from around the world. We offer shoppers access to unique and exclusive product they otherwise couldn't find at pre-sale prices. It is one of the most ethical and sustainable ways to shop out there.
For designers, we are a one-stop ecosystem to help them accelerate their business and grow their brand with marketing, public relations and manufacturing support. Our network of service providers and discounted services allows designers to do what they do best - design, without going bankrupt.
How do you help resolve issues with size and fitting?
We have standard grading rules that our designers must grade to. That makes it much easier for our customers to shop across our brands. So if you are a size small on Nineteenth Amendment, a small in each of our brands should fit you.
Please share details of the last two fiscal years. What are your expectations for the next two?
We don't disclose financial information but we are raising our Seed Round currently.
What are your future plans?
We would like to bring localised on-demand production for independent designers to new markets, especially Europe and Southeast Asia. (HO)
Published on: 20/12/2017
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.