Monika Desai on Opening the Runway
Custom is a mindset, and great minds think alike. Perhaps this is why up and coming fashion company, Open Runway has found itself using the same building as the CustomMade offices as its base of operations. Open Runway is a soon to be launched start-up which brings women’s fashion – starting with shoes – to a new level by offering fashion forward customers an unprecedented level of customization, and a social shopping platform to discover, purchase and share the original designs of emerging designers. I fortunately got a chance to sit down with founder and CEO, Monika Desai and Open Runway team member, Jeff Walsh to chat a bit about, among other things, this revolutionary new concept that puts the customer in charge of the runway.
Monika comes from a marketing background working for 12 years in the financial services and tourism industries. She has always been interested in fashion and self expression, and was having things custom made from a very young age when her family spent time in Europe and India. She first customized her own shoes a few years ago and fell in love with the experience of seeing her design come to life. Her company is about wearing away at the elitist and exclusive nature of the fashion industry and making high fashion more accessible by putting the power into the hands of the consumer through co-creation.
Open Runway’s mission is two-fold. Where one goal is to give the power and accessibility to the consumer, the other is to be a platform for up and coming designers who may not otherwise
have any means of support to get their designs produced and sold. Open Runway will host ongoing, open call, crowdsourced design contests where users can submit original shoe designs to be voted on by the Open Runway community. When a winner is selected, their designs will be manufactured and sold under both Open Runway, and the individual designer’s name. In this way, Open Runway can be a launch pad for which designer’s careers can really take off. Monika hopes that her company will bring to life a brand new wave of online and social communities centered around fashion.
With a slogan like “Join the Fashionocracy,” it’s clear that Open Runway is setting out to break some barriers, even level some playing fields, and give the power of design back to the people. Stay tuned for future blog posts about the Open Runway team as they gear up for the launch of their site OpenRunway.com.