With Crowdsourcing, Betabrand Takes 3D Printed Heels From Design To Presale In 5 Days

Betabrand, an e-Commerce fashion retailer that crowdfunds and crowdsources ideas for its apparel designs, launched the “On-Your-Mark Heel Project” with one question in mind: “Can we create the next great pair of heels in less than a week?”

The retailer collaborated with CPG manufacturer and designer Li & Fung to launch the project. Through crowdsourcing and 3D digital rendering, Betabrand is banking on this project to create and sell new products even more quickly than its fast fashion competitors. 

The process started Sunday, March 4, and the shoes will be available for presale on Friday, March 9. Site visitors voted through a series of polls, with the rendered results reflecting the products that won each poll:


  • Day 1: Consumers pick their favorite of three heel bases;
  • Day 2: Consumers pick their favorite details;
  • Day 3: Consumers pick the final materials for the heels;
  • Days 4 and 5: Consumers pick their favorite color; and
  • Day 6: The winning product launches on the Betabrand site.

Each day, consumers could leave additional feedback in a comment section.

By inviting consumers into product development, Betabrand seeks to help designers, merchants and marketers quickly identify shopper preferences. The company then puts design prototypes on presale to determine how large a given production run should be. 

“The quality of digital renderings are now so high, the detail of the fabrics and trims so accurate and lifelike, that products are ready for presale before manufacturing even begins,” said Chris Lindland, Founder of Betabrand in a statement.

Betabrand has partnered with Li & Fung since 2017, when the companies tested four-week development cycles for new footwear and bag designs. The companies collaborated on the “On-Your-Mark Heel Project” after deploying 20 successful products and launching 30,000 presales.

The dress shoes will ship to buyers in four months, and Betabrand will offer presale purchasers discounts of up to 30%.

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