At just 21 years old, Eugene Liu is helping hundreds of the next generation of artists and fashion designers get started.
The San Francisco-based coder told WWD he got the idea for Threadfunder, his free crowdfunding website, during final exams at UC Davis, where he’s studying law. “My social media is really fashion-based, so I noticed that many artists were showing clothing concepts that they wanted to post, but most of the time these artists never released their designs,” Liu said.
Recognizing that the biggest obstacle to producing these designs was funding, Liu decided to create a free website that aspiring designers could use to showcase their clothing design concepts to help designers raise funds quickly. needed to make the models. “I wanted to make the website free for everyone, because there were many models that I personally liked and wanted to buy, and I knew the website wouldn’t take me too long to build,” said Liu said.
Immediately after handing in his last final exam, Liu started coding, launching the first version of Threadfunder five days later.
On Threadfunder, designers and artists can easily create a listing by adding images that feature concept and designs. Images can be physical sample images of the design or photo-edited mockups. Users can then share lists with the world.
“The listings are also displayed on our homepage so people looking to support emerging creators can easily browse them,” Liu said. “The listings allow supporters to commit to pre-ordering the design if the creator decides they actually want to produce it.”
To make a Pledge, supporters enter payment information and are only charged if the creator produces the design. If the creator collects the pledge, a small processing fee is charged for each pledge taken from the payment processor.
“Anyone can go to Threadfunder.com and create a listing,” Liu said. “The process is super simple. Designers present concept clothing designs with images and can write anything they want donors to know. Then they just have to set a pledge price.
Notably, Liu told WWD that the footage doesn’t require an over-the-top photoshoot. The designers successfully raised funds through Threadfunder by showing samples they created themselves and through mockups.
“I started Threadfunder because I noticed it was very difficult for aspiring designers to start a clothing brand with cut and sew products if they didn’t have the money,” Liu said. . “My goal with Threadfunder is to change that so that anyone with just a good clothing design concept can easily get the funding they need to launch their designs and their own clothing brand.”
One of Threadfunder’s original creators, Ahmed Mohamed, a 20-year-old design student from Auckland, New Zealand, used crowdfunding to successfully raise $1,360 for his “Rebirth Jacket” design. The funding allowed Mohamed to pay for his own website and make a manufacturing deposit.
What’s amazing is that he was able to raise enough money just by sharing his Threadfunder list on his social media accounts,” Liu said. “I’m super excited for him as he has since successfully created a website and launched his Divided Nation brand.”
Importantly, Liu acknowledged that not all designs posted to Threadfunder would successfully lead to a pledge collection, but he considers this a good thing for designers as it allows a designer to quickly test the request for a design to find out if there is any interest before. invest in production.
“No one wants to find out their design isn’t going to sell, but it’s far better to find out before you invest your time and money into manufacturing, that way you can quickly get back to the drawing board and continue to test designs,” Liu said. “For example, a 19-year-old from Munich, Germany was able to raise a few hundred dollars through Threadfunder just by sharing his listing, which showed the front and back of a t-shirt he had photographed together. In the end, he decided to cancel the listing and not collect pledges, which illustrates how risk-free it is to use Threadfunder. Donors have not been charged and the creator can always try again with another design.
It’s an opportunity to “live to fight another day”, according to Liu. Looking ahead, Liu said he sees potential for brands to use Threadfunder to make decisions about what to manufacture.
“I hope established brands will also consider using Threadfunder to test the demand for their upcoming product lines before they are manufactured,” Liu said. “Threadfunder can help brands decide not to make designs that people don’t want in the first place. I’m excited to see if Threadfunder can help reduce waste in the fashion industry and negative environmental impact associated with this type of waste.
While the company is still in its infancy, Liu plans to continue to evolve Threadfunder and takes all user feedback into consideration. Liu told WWD he’s excited to see more designers having success stories.
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