Digital ‘stylebooks’ become designer-quality clothing with StyleSaint

The Internet has tapped the wisdom of the crowd, but a new startup is about to test its taste.
On Monday, Venice, Calif.-based StyleSaint announced that it had raised $1.5 million in funding from Andreesen Horowitz, Catalyst Partners, Crosscut Ventures and others to turn digital fashion magazines (or so-called “stylebooks”) into crowd-inspired, designer-quality clothing.
The startup gives fashion bloggers a platform for publishing custom stylebooks, assembled by collecting images from across the Web in a Pinterest sort of way. It then lets general fashion consumers subscribe to the digital publications and socialize with them as they would any other kind of online content online.
But StyleSaint isn’t just about curation and discovery, it’s also about commerce. Using insights pulled from meta data and social engagement, the startup plans to manufacture high-quality clothing – at wholesale prices – inspired by the trends set by the crowd.
“It’s the first collaborative fashion brand,” said co-founder Allison Beal at TechCrunch Disrupt, where the startup officially launched Monday. “It’s designed by us but inspired by you.”
Working with the same manufacturer who creates apparel for Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Lauren Conrad and Rag & Bone, she said, the company plans to turn around clothing items, which will be priced around $40, in just four weeks. But it doesn’t plan to crowdsource in the same way that Kickstarter crowdsources funding or Threadless crowdsources designs. Instead, the custom designs would follow the interests, tastes and trends of the “creative collective,” the founders said.
Beal, who worked in fashion for eight years, has more recently built up her tech chops and is the company’s chief product officer and chief creative officer. Brian Garrett, who was formerly an investor (including with Crosscut Ventures), is the startup’s CEO and co-founder. Since opening the site for an invite-only beta about 45 days ago, StyleSaint has attracted more than 1,000 bloggers. It plans to release its first custom apparel collection this fall.