After 12 months of brainstorming, researching and building, the world’s first fashion crowdfunding platform has made its debut, with Banana launching today to bridge the gap between designers, producers and consumers and bring fashion ideas to life.
The Australian creator-focused platform, founded by CEO Luke Grana and chief product officer Gloria Yu, provides a space where anyone can design fashion pieces and sell them through a pre-order system.
Banana allows creators to connect with Banana producers to design their own unique clothing, or brands can create a sample of a new design they want to make.
Once they are happy with their sample, they upload pictures and videos of their product onto the Banana platform, set the price, and open their designs up for pre-order.
Creators then promote their collection to their online community and build momentum around pre-orders.
At the end of a pre-order campaign, if the minimum order quantity required by their manufacturer has been reached, the producer will make and ship the garments directly to the customer through Banana’s warehouse.
Banana expects to launch ten creator brands over December and January, says CEO Luke Grana, including 40 pre-order campaigns.
“We are hiring our team to build out the full marketplace that will enable any creator brand to join and launch fashion products easily,” he told SmartCompany.
“We are also working on bringing on many specialty producers who can connect to creators and co-develop products.”
Grana says Banana’s purpose is to empower the next generation of fashion creators.
“We make it easy for individual creators worldwide to design and sell fashion products through our unique pre-order platform,” he says.
“On Banana, creators and brands can launch pre-order campaigns for their designs and only produce what’s sold.
“We’re all working together to champion a low-waste fashion future.”
Fashion’s “inventory problem”
Both Grana and Yu have built their own fashion brands before, and with a combined 20 years of experience in the fashion industry between them, they say they love the high that comes from selling products they have dreamt up.
“Yet we also weren’t fond of the big challenges that come with running a fashion business, in particular with forecasting and managing inventory,” Grana says.
“We are also shocked by the statistic that the fashion industry produces 150 billion garments annually, but 15-45 billion of them don’t even get sold, often getting landfilled or incinerated.
“The need to invest upfront in inventory before product sales also prevents a lot of fashion creatives from even getting started and keep going.
In short, “fashion has an inventory problem”, says Grana.
“Our research into the growing creator economy, advancements in 3D fashion design, and the advantages of a pre-order sales model showed us the potential to streamline design and selling without the burden of paying upfront for inventory and avoiding overproduction,” he says.
Grana says overproduction is a major fashion industry problem, leading to excessive discounting, waste, and piles of garments ending up in landfills.
“Our solution is the pre-order model, where we support creators to produce only what they have already sold,” he said.
“Many creators struggle to launch their fashion brands due to the initial cost of bulk inventory.
“The financial risk can be so high that it stops a lot of creators from even trying to get something off the ground.
“And for those already dipping their toes into the world of fashion entrepreneurship, the risk of products not selling can often mean that some of the best, most creative ideas never see the light of day.”
Technology can play a powerful role in democratising industries, says the co-founder.
“We believe Banana’s technology will do so and help create a more diverse creative landscape in fashion as a result,” he says.
“With staggering statistics of overproduction and ethical issues in fashion, we believe the industry can only move towards business models and practices that are better for people and the environment.
“That is why as co-founders, we didn’t want to start another business in fashion unless it solves some of its sustainability problems, which we believe we have.”