Back to the Well: 3 Brands that Continue to Crowd Fund

When sites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe first blossomed in the early 2010s, many questioned the staying power of brands based on crowd funding. Some found it nearly insane to think that enough consumers could have blind faith in a product that they would actually pay for it before anything had been produced on a larger scale.

After all it is difficult to have faith in clothing that doesn’t even exist yet. I don’t know about you all, but I like to see and feel almost any garment that I purchase before pulling the trigger–especially when it comes to denim.

That being said, a few brands are making waves in the denim and internet spheres that have found success in basing their sales exclusively through crowd funding. This way exactly the right amount of each garment is made, ideas that consumers do not like are not brought to fruition, and no money is lost on back stock that ends up unsold. Here’s a quick rundown on three brands that found early success in crowd funded denim and have chosen to keep doing it: RPMWEST, Gustin, and Flint and Tinder.

RPMWEST

RPMWest Slim and New Classic Fits side by side

RPMWest Slim and New Classic Fits side by side

Owned by one Manuel Rappard, RPMWEST operates out of California and uses crowd funding as a way to provide its customers with raw Japanese selvedge denim at a reasonable price. You would never guess that the brand has only been operating for about a year after viewing the reviews and response that they have been receiving through the blogosphere and internet.

For each Kickstarter, the brand offers different builds of Japanese denim. They’re currently pitching six fabrics available in their two fits, the New Classic and Slim Straight. On their most recent campaign the brand has raised about $96,000 from over 700 backers to produce their jeans. With responses like that, there’s little chance they’ll want to change up their business model.

Gustin Denim

GUSTINSTRAIGHTANDSLIM

Gustin arrived at crowd funding for many of the same reasons as RPM. The brand had existed for around 8 years and initially sold its products through traditional retailers. After some contemplation, the brand found it more logical to withdraw from having these retailers sell their products at mark-ups and sell directly to the consumer at wholesale prices. The brand began on Kickstarter but has since implemented their own fundraising system directly into the shop tab on their site.

Prospective buyers see the products and fabrics that Gustin js offering for that cycle and put their money down to reserve one. Once a product is fully funded, Gustin sends it into production and ships out their goods a couple months later. Currently they’re funding a variety of American and Japanese denims from a variety of well known mills. Interested in seeing more of what we think about Gustin? Check out the review that our writer, Young Lee, did on their Loomstates back in December.

Flint and Tinder

Flint and Tinder Regular and Slim fits side by side.

Flint and Tinder Regular and Slim fits side by side.

Reality TV personality Jake Bronstein started Flint and Tinder back in 2012 to produce high end American made underwear. The initial response that his campaign received brought the brand to the attention of the likes of Zappos CEO, Tony Hseih. From there the brand kept gaining steam and was eventually able to open a webshop with their own domain and produce a full line of mens and womenswear. Despite their success, they still chose to return to Kickstarter to fund their latest cycle of raw denim last month.

Aside from underwear, their most notable item is their raw selvedge jeans, which have been the subject of multiple Kickstarter campaigns. The jeans are your standard 13.5 oz. Cone Mills raw selvedge that we have all come to expect from Made In America-type brands.

So, what do you guys think? Do you think that crowd funding is a viable option to sell product through or is it just a flash in the pan trend? Sound off in the comments below, we would love to hear what you guys think!

 

Dennis DePrimo

Dennis DePrimo

Dennis is a musician/producer, skateboarder and denim enthusiast. Follow him on instagram at: @dennistehmenace

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  • Oldschoolhype

    My question is why does crowd funding seem to mean you cant give make your jeans with a bit more personality… These companies all do the exact same two cuts with the same fabric, the only diff being flint and tinder with visible selvage coin pocket. While I can appreciate the classics Id like to see some kickstarters that innovate and personalize their products to develop their brands into something that doesnt feel so stock. Maybe some back stitching or specialized fabrics

    • Cruel_Angel

      These brands are small, they work with end of roll fabrics, or in stock fabrics which have low minimum orders. These brands operate differently than your typical denim brand, they make only what is ordered they do not carry stock. They want you to pay them first, they collect the orders and product, then a few months later deliver it. To make a custom fabric requires the brand to order a certain minimum amount of fabric, this could be in the thousands of meters. Because these brands are selling small quantities at a time, it’s hard for them to invest in a single fabric that they may or may not totally sell out of. These brands do not want to take any risks. Because of that, you see little innovation and the same story over and over again.

  • iMStone

    I don’t know how much you guys know about Gustin but they are not selling small quantities. Yes maybe they’re no Levi’s. However I’ve been following them for about 10 months now being that I’ve purchased 2 pairs from them. They are selling a hell of a lot of jeans and they are using some awesome fabrics. Yes maybe they are not using custom fabrics, but they have used more fabrics most likely than any other company which for people looking for unique fabrics, it’s a good thing. I only say, their pocket bags are way too thin, however compared to my other expensive raw’s, the quality is there. I have a pair of their 15oz jeans called the fifteeners and I also have their Loomstates. Both are great fabrics from japan,however they are also using some great American fabrics. I know not much about the other 2 companies but keep an eye out for Gustin because I can easily say they are running the show

  • Peter Hyatt

    Gustin has become popular because they have delivered. Even in the aftermarket on eBay, their jeans are holding original value, with some being sold above Gustin price, as customers may not want to wait 2 months for delivery. They are quality denim, but also are well cut, with terrific stitching and hardware, and Gustin has offered enough different types of denim to get lots of repeat, and now, loyal customers.

    • driftwoode

      While I am probably in the minority opinion, my experience with Gustin has been the opposite of yours stated here. I’ve owned a couple pair of their jeans. In one case, the denim was a deadstock offering and after receiving the jean, I could see why–it was thin and of poor quality. And in both jeans I found the fit to be way off and the stitching to be sub-standard. The hardware was good, I’ll give them that. But other than that I was very disappointed in the overall quality of the jeans. I’m not trying to knock the company, they seem earnest and thoughtful in their offerings. But I realized once again, that you get what you pay for and when you pay $81 dollars for a pair of raw denim, corners are going to be cut.

      • Sean

        the whole point of their wholesale/crowdsourcing model was so that they could charge the $81 without having to cut any corners regarding quality. actually, they seem really very approachable when it comes to quality concerns such as yours and will take measures to make sure your experience is a positive one. all the best!

        • driftwoode

          I understand the whole point of the crowdsourcing model, the problem is that with the jeans I received, corners were cut. Which in the end defeats the whole purpose of the model. However, I do agree that they are very approachable and seem to want to deal with quality concerns in an honest, timely fashion. I give the folks at Gustin credit for their customer service and varied offerings. Nevertheless, the dictum you get what you pay for stands even with their product. As such, I just don’t see how I can trust backing another pair of their denim. But as I mentioned before, I’m probably in the minority in my experience. I do wish them all the best.