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Designer Derek Lam Crowd-Sources Summer Collection on eBay

derek lam + ebay
Derek Lam's Fashion Week shows are always attended by the style elite. This season, Anna Wintour sat front row, near Joe Zee and Derek Blasberg, and, last season, Leighton Meester and Rachel Zoe watched the presentation. Throughout the years, Lam has become a hallowed part of New York fashion, like Donna Karan or Ralph Lauren. But for a part of his Spring '11 collection, Lam has decided to opt for crowd-sourcing, not star-spotting.

As Alber Elbaz (of Lanvin) did with H&M or Rodarte did with Target, Mr. Lam is doing a diffusion line. Instead of offering shoddily made versions of garments that vaguely echo runway themes, though, he's heading online. By teaming up with eBay, Lam has produced 16 pieces for a lower-priced ($125 to $295) market. (Granted, they aren't the $25 to $50 price tags that Target collaborations can bring consumers, but Lam uses lower-end luxe materials, like poplin cotton or silk georgette -- meaning they might last more than one season.) eBay users can go online and vote for their favorite looks (countless times, it appears), and the top five will be produced, and then sold, through the auction site.

If this were an approach to runway fashion, the initiative might not be so successful. Editors and designers have an eye for high couture, and, for better or worse, runway style is not for everyone. This, however, is a diffusion line, meant to appeal to a wider consumer base. Lam enjoys creating a more practical line, telling Harper's Bazaar, "eBay... responded so well and really loved this idea of the collaborative sourcing, so I have this dialogue back and forth with the consumer about what I do." His desire for the classic, as opposed to the avant garde, is obvious in his straightforward shapes. The line will be available in May, so vote now. We suggest the Shirt Dress in black -- it's lovely.

Tags: crowdsourcing, DerekLam, DerekLamForEbay, DiffusionLines, ebay, fashion, LanvinForHm, NewYorkFashionWeek, RodarteForTarget, top, web