Derek Lam recently said he wanted to do a diffusion line, particularly a lower-priced collection with someone "like Topshop," and it looks like it's already worked out for him: He's launching an exclusive capsule collection for eBay, which will show during New York Fashion Week in February. Upon the collection's initial unveiling, anyone with Internet access will be able to vote immediately for their favorite looks online to determine what goes into production, which is a very clever way to bypass the guessing game of how many orders eBay needs to place for each item. The collection will be available for purchase at "accessible" price points on eBay in spring/summer 2011.
Lam's online voting scheme is actually quite similar to what Burberry did this past Fashion Week when they live-streamed their show and began taking immediate orders for the clothing on their website (the orders are to be delivered several months post-show). Ironically, Lam was actually asked about Burberry's immediate-gratification strategy when he took part in a panel at Parsons last week, and started stuttering when he tried to answer ("You can tell already I’m hyperventilating,” he explained at the time). WWD interpreted this as anxiety over the idea that fashion could have such a quick turnaround, but now we know that he was probably just trying to restrain himself from climbing on top of his chair and yelling that he's doing the exact same thing! Which is too bad, really, because that would have been a much cooler way to announce it.
EBay has sold exclusive capsule collections by Norma Kamali and Narciso Rodriguez in the past, but this is the first time they're having customers play a role in the production process.