Style Trek, a new hybrid e-commerce and social networking site, launched this week. Founder Cecilia Pagkalinawan, who previously helped market and launch ecommerce for Burberry, Frette and La Perla, describes the site as "Facebook meets Net-A-Porter for emerging designers."
The site currently features collections from 20 designers across the globe, and the plan is to add more designers in the coming months. To call them all "emerging" designers would be a bit misleading though. Some, like Nicole Noselli and Daphne Gutierrez who design Bruce, are better described as "re-emerging"--their line Bruce picked up a CFDA award back in 2001, they took a break for a while, and now they're back. Mexican design duo Rafa Cuevas and Roberto Sanchez's line Teamo (as in "te amo") is big in Mexico but they're looking to reach consumers in the states. Pagkalinawan finds designers through tips from industry insiders. Buyers pass along designers they like but can't stock because they're either too small or they've already reached capacity for their contemporary floors. Hopefully, they find a home on Style Trek.
While most ecommerce sites simply curate merchadise, Style Trek aims to allow shoppers and designers to communicate and engage with one another. Designers have profile pages so consumers get a better sense of the personality behind the product. Consumers can become "Style Trekkers" and create their own profiles to connect with other shoppers and designers, and "like" products, which allows Style Trek to track trends and adjust inventory accordingly. "Rarely can a website or a store track how people react to certain products," says Pagkalinawan. "Say we have six units of a coat left and 800 people like it, we'll talk to the designer and make sure they're prepared for that order." If inventory runs out consumer interest can also spur designers to recreate a sold out item in a different fabric.
Like FashionStake, Style Trekkers get a cut (1% of sales) if they recommend a designer that Style Trek picks up. It's a unique model that's been an easy sell to investors. Pagkalinawan set a goal to raise half a million to launch the site, and ended up raising three times that amount. Hopefully that's a good sign for these entrepreneurial designers. And it's certainly a good thing for shoppers.