Friday, March 4, 2011

Assignment 2 - Consumers are producers

Article: The ‘in’ crowd

The fashion world for all intents and purposes has been a forum in which the numbered few decide on the trends and the masses respond by purchasing them. The line between designer and buyer could be characterized as black and white in an industry full of colour. Now however, many brands are relying on those that wear their clothes, to also design their clothes. As Lucie Green mentions in her article “never before has the consumer had so much control over what, how, and when products are available” (Green, 2011).

Discount brands, department stores, independent fashion lines as well as power house fashion icons all have turned to the web to reach out to their consumers, gaining input for possible designs, allowing for the purchasing of personalized and custom products and managing the quantity of products they produce. Burberry, The Bay, and Threadless are a varied example of brands that rely on this method.

Through the use of crowdsourcing, these brands make them active participants in the process. Consumers have a sense of entrepreneurial spirit that they feel they are able to manifest through the sense of 'control' that the companies provide them. By being active in a large design community the people involved are able to develop and grow three types of capital: financial capital, artistic capital, and social capital (Thompson, 1999, p.212). The company selling the product make money, creates a larger portfolio of products, hence expanding their artistic capital, and reaching more consumers who essentially become followers, leading to a larger social capital. Consumers also gain the three types of capital because through their input they have larger control over where and how much money they spend, they feel a sense of creativity through the process of customizing products by choosing colors, personalizing etc, and they build social capital by feeling like they have an active voice that the designer is listening to. Their social capital also grows through the online world that allows them to communicate with other consumers, discussing what they like and dislike about a particular consumer product.


Brabham, D. (2008). Crowdsourcing as a model for problem solving. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 14(1), 75-90.

Greene, L. (2011, February 11). The 'in' crowd. The Financial Times. Retrieved from

Thompson, J. L. (1999). The world of the entrepreneur: a new perspective. Journal of Workspace and Learning. 11(6), 209-224.

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