Made in Italy: MakersValley Connects Boutiques to Apparel Factories

Xconomy New York — 

Amid what seems like unlimited choices, a key way for retailers to stand out is to try to offer products no one else has.

For a small boutique, that could be exclusive access to a bespoke clothing line, say, but creating and manufacturing one is typically cost-prohibitive except for the largest of retailers.

Enter MakersValley. The New York-based startup has developed a Web platform to connect individual businesses with clothing manufacturers based in Italy at inventory numbers far below what is typically required of these kinds of orders.

“They usually have minimum orders of 5,000 pieces,” says Tiffany Chimal, MakersValley’s co-founder and COO. “That’s a lot of capital.”

Instead, smaller boutiques and designers can, through MakersValley, tap into unused capacity at these Italian factories. “Now, they can make something that’s totally unique and their own so that people have to come to them to buy it,” she adds.

MakersValley provides access based on a monthly subscription model charging $49, $99, or $199 to work on one, three, or an unlimited number of product projects. (The startup also charge a per piece markup of 22 percent.)  Once the project has been submitted, MakersValley will broker the bids from interested manufacturers. The customer chooses the winning bid and can decide to produce a few samples or an entire order.

Manufacturers upload photos and videos of the clothing being made, allowing the boutiques or designers to share them via social media. “Fans can be part of the process and see inside the factories,” Chimal says.

MakersValley has about 185 manufacturers on the platform, including those who produce clothing for marquee names such as Ferragamo and Versace, and is currently working on 90 projects—37 of which are being made by one designer, she says.

“We focus on the manufacturing piece of the supply chain, the fabric details, color size,” she explains. “You specify your budget and when you want to roll out your collection. You decide which bid works for you.”

In addition to connecting makers to manufacturers, MakersValley’s founders say their “Made in Italy” brand is a powerful label. “We’re giving them access to the same people who make clothing” for some of the world’s top couture houses.

While the idea of white-labeling retail products has predominantly been used in the grocery business, its use in apparel is growing fast, according to New York consultancy 1010Data. Online, private-label apparel is growing as quickly as that in consumer-packaged goods, it said.

Big retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target have all jumped into the private-label business. Among Amazon’s 6,800 such products, more than 4,600 are in apparel, and the Seattle-based company could become the largest apparel retailer by next year, according to data firm ScrapeHero.

MakersValley rightly targets the need for retailers to offer unique … Next Page »

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