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The inside line on New York fashion

Site to Watch: Fabricly

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In an industry that seems to be constantly on the hunt for the next wunderkind designer, a new website called Fabricly is giving designers a chance at their first "hit."

    “Think of it as a record label for fashion designers,” said Ari Helgason, Fabricly's founder – a modern, full-service, indie record label, that is.

    “Designers just email us, bring their ideas, and we just take it from there,” Helgason said.

    Here's how it works: Emerging designers send sketches and fabric swatches to Fabricly's office on Lafayette Street, and if chosen, Fabricly will find the fabrics, sample the styles, photograph them, and finally, manufacture a limited run of the collection in L.A. factories to be sold exclusively on Fabricly.com. The system removes a lot of the legwork and financial risk for designers struggling to get their first winning look.

    Each month or so, the site will feature clothing from a new designer, building a new roster of talent in a non-traditional way. It sort of reminds us of the early days of Opening Ceremony, right down to “Fabricly vs. Designer” format. So far, the clothing is accessible (in the $100-200 price range), and the exclusivity could create Opening Ceremony-style fanaticism for the hottest designs. Pretty smart.

    Perhaps that’s why Fabricly has attracted fans in some unlikely places – namely, Silicon Valley, where the company got funding. As a general rule, the tech-y venture capitalists who call California home have avoided investing in fashion start-ups, since they usually show high risks and low returns. The highly profitable Gilt Groupe and its European predecessor, Vente-Privee, turned that notion on its head, but some say they do a disservice to the fashion industry, whether by de-valuing clothing or propping up a system that wastes way too many resources.

    Fabricly, on the other hand, creates a new system – one that rewards creativity, and gives both designers and customers the chance to experiment. Sounds like music to our ears.