We recently began working with renowned Chicago-based fashion designer Maria Pinto on launching her newest collection, M2057 by Maria Pinto. Maria came into the national spotlight several years ago for dressing Michelle Obama for several campaign events, including Election Night. Now she's become one of the first recognized designers to launch a fashion collection on the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. Here she talks about why she decided to do so, and her excitement about the confluence of fashion and technology.
What's unique about your new collection, M2057 by Maria Pinto?
This capsule collection of dresses, jackets, and wraps is all about fitting the needs of the modern woman. It's fashion that keeps up with you, that works for you, rather than the other way around. I'm taking the elements of my old collections, like high-end design, quality, and fabrics, but making them much more accessible. They're still beautiful, architectural clothes, but they're really versatile, machine washable, travel friendly, and they fit a variety of body types and sizes. All the pieces are easy to dress up or down, and could go perfectly from the the office to a cocktail party, and everything retails from $75-$250.
You can pre-order the M2057 collection right now on Kickstarter, but only until October 14! In addition to the pieces themselves, we're offering some "behind-the-scenes" fashion experiences, where you can shadow me for a day or throw a fashion party at one of my favorite Chicago restaurants, Sepia.
Why launch M2057 on Kickstarter?
I really was looking to try something new. Everyone's told me I'm crazy for trying to launch on Kickstarter, and maybe I am, but I think the traditional retail model is evolving, and I think this could be the future of fashion. I love these experiments with bringing technology into the fashion world. It's not just about trying to sell a product—with Kickstarter, I'm building a community that will forever be a part of the brand. All backers will be listed on my website as special contributors, and will get special access to previews of future collections and other exclusive content. It's a way to more directly connect with customers and find out what they really want and need—we'll only produce what gets ordered, which also eliminates a lot of overhead and waste.
Absolutely. Literally, in fact. 2057 is the year I turn 100! But that applies in other ways, too. Looking at the future means looking at the future woman, and she's not slowing down any time soon. She needs clothes that can work for a lot of occasions, can go a lot of places, and can hold up all day and still look great. I used these wonderful fabrics that have a high-tech feel and really work for modern, wearable designs, while still feeling soft and luxurious on the body. But they're incredibly functional, too. Unique designs that are high quality, machine washable, easy to travel with, and very flattering, all at a great value—to me, that's the future of fashion. A good one, anyway.
What have been some of the challenges with launching on Kickstarter?
It's definitely not a traditional way to sell clothes, nor is it a typical Kickstarter campaign. For a lot of my customers or potential customers, they've never been to the site before, so educating them has been a big part of this, and stressing the urgency and that it's time sensitive. If we don't reach our goal by Oct 14, we don't go into production! So encouraging people to tell their friends, and share the links on Facebook and Twitter has been very important. But it's been gratifying to see that once people go to Kickstarter, they get it, and they're excited about it.