Next time you’re looking for some brand new designer duds, perhaps hit up eBay. The e-commerce giant has just launched Designer Collective, in which 16 American designers, including Calvin Klein, Nicole Miller, Rebecca Minkoff, Elie Tahari, Cynthia Rowley, and True Religion, run and own shops selling their current-season collections at full price.
"The larger brands see this as an extension of their digital footprint," Marcelle Parrish, eBay's head of fashion, told Women's Wear Daily. eBay will own none of the merchandise, but will collaborate with the designers on the design of their digital storefronts. The idea is that merchandising via eBay will let these brands reach a wider audience than they would through their individual boutique sites or through e-commerce sites like Net-A-Porter—according to their Q1 2014 report, eBay boasts 145 million active users worldwide. The hope is that the shops will attract new users to eBay, letting the site rebrand itself as more than just an auction site. Designer Collective also plans to have fashionistas and bloggers contribute style stories and editorial content to the site later in the year.
When it comes to fashion, eBay has long held a place in the vintage market—historically, it’s where you might go to hunt for ultra-discounted, one-of-a-kind items, perhaps historic band t-shirts or weird disco boots for Halloween. But Designer Collective is the latest in eBay’s recent efforts to tap into the cutting-edge side of the fashion business. In 2010, eBay launched a fashion content site, then in 2013, partnered with the Council of Fashion Designers of America on a range of wearable tech. The company has also collaborated on designer exclusives with Derek Lam, Alexander Wang, and Narciso Rodriguez. More than these previous efforts, though, Designer Collective seems to have the potential to revamp the retailer's image from a massive online thrift store to a one-stop shop for high-end goods.