1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 2/5/2013 12:21:47 PM ET 2013-02-05T17:21:47

The Elope Dress, designed for the vastly underserved secret-wedding market. Gluttony Pants, featuring an expanding waistline in three size settings (piglet, sow, boar). Sock Insurance, a nifty $13 add-on for a year of single-sock replacements. These are some of the tweet-friendly products unleashed by San Francisco-based online fashion upstart  Betabrand, whose founder, Chris Lindland, is on a mission to create the world's first truly social clothing company.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Introducing the #unselfie: Photos celebrate unselfish acts

      Selfies are so prevalent these days that even President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have gotten into the self-portr...

    2. Would your kitchen pass a health inspection?
    3. Strap in: Networks plan 75 new shows for fall
    4. Get the look: Have your own 'Parenthood' patio
    5. #IAmMyMother: Send us your stories, photos

"My thought was if the company could be more like a blog, we'd get a lot of attention," he says. He points to Betabrand's core strategy of injecting shareable, conversational elements into every design by feeding off the news cycle and blogger communities. For example, the company's Executive Pinstripe Hoodie (part of the West Coast Workwear collection) was released to coincide with Facebook's IPO--resulting in "out of control" press coverage, Lindland says. (It still makes up 25 percent of Betabrand's total sales.) Meanwhile, the bestselling Bike to Work pants blew up thanks to support from the passionate biker blogosphere.

Since launching in August 2010, Betabrand has released nearly 200 products for men and women; it currently issues new creations at a rate of two or three per week. The plan is to launch 20 to 30 items per week by the end of 2013, with at least half designed through crowdsourcing and collaborations with outside designers.

Social engagement is critical. Betabrand customers have made it clear they don't just like to buy the latest designs--they want to be seen wearing them. The company's ongoing "Model Citizen" campaign gives customers the chance to show their love for products like Disco Pants (think mirrored disco balls, as pants) or Cordarounds (horizontal corduroy) by submitting personal photos and videos. Lindland says submissions add up to a "mad mountain" of content.

The tactics are working. Betabrand's newsletters and e-mails, which boast a "99 percent fiction and 1 percent fashion" editorial policy, have a 40 percent open rate--double the industry standard. The 18-person company ended last year with $3.5 million in sales.

"The most important thing is to keep throwing ideas out there to find what resonates," Lindland says, noting that new products are sourced quickly from San Francisco sew shops in limited-edition runs, so that even Betabrand's less popular items sell out within a few months. Restocking is based on sell-through rates, and thanks to the company's domestic manufacturing partnerships, new inventory arrives in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months.

But the biggest key to Betabrand's strategy is good online content--and plenty of it. "The big idea was to create an apparel business with new ideas every day,"

Lindland says. "It's the modern way of creating a catalog--live." And as we all know, funny stuff rules on the web. Which is why, over a weekend last September, Betabrand invited a contingent of customers to its San Francisco headquarters for a "brand hackathon." The breakout project: Betabrand.xxx, a pornographic parody of the company's website involving videos of "sexy" zippers, socks and pants "getting it on" to cheesy synth music.

What's not to like?

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Jeff Dunahoo / www.11alive.com

    Introducing the #unselfie: Photos celebrate unselfish acts

    4/17/2014 6:17:54 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T18:17:54
  1. ‘Mom … I love you’: Texts from students on sinking ferry

    Heartbreaking text messages from high school students on board the sinking ferry off South Korea painted a picture of terror and tragedy on board as the hunt for survivors continued Thursday.

    4/17/2014 6:07:02 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T18:07:02
  1. Would your kitchen pass a health inspection? 6 mistakes you may be making

    Do you use the same kitchen towel to wipe your hands and counters? Peter DeLucia, assistant health commissioner for Westchester County in New York shares some common (and uncommon) health risks.

    4/17/2014 5:30:15 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T17:30:15
  1. Florian Schneider / Florian Schneider/NBC

    Get the look: Have your own 'Parenthood' patio

    4/17/2014 6:25:21 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T18:25:21
  1. Nordstrom; Bloomindales

    Under $100: Spring skirts for every style

    4/17/2014 5:46:37 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T17:46:37