Is this a model for success? Commitment-to-purchase

Several brands in the fashion sector have recently adopted a ‘kickstarter’ approach to new lines – gauging feedback on designs and confirming demand before moving to manufacturing.

Founded in 2017 by Amy Smilovic, New York-based womenswear label Tibi had built a strong digital sales presence before the pandemic struck. Selling via their own e-commerce platform and on Matches and Net-a-Porter, the closure of physical outposts didn’t pose an immediate threat to their revenue. But the potentially seismic effects on retail made Amy shift her focus – to be ‘damn sure that we know for certain customers are lined up to buy before we produce,’ she says. It also made her think about how her company could be less wasteful moving forward.

In May, Amy tested a ‘pre-reserve’ model with the 26,000 fans on her own Instagram account (@amysmilovic). ‘We kept it very simple,’ says Amy. ‘Sometimes you just need to be able to be scrappy. This doesn’t involve complicated IT programs.’ She began sharing potential new additions to her collection through her Instagram Stories, with colourways, prices and personal commentary.

Customers register their interest in an item by sending her a DM with their size and colour choice. Crucially, no card details are exchanged: a customer doesn’t buy in advance like a more traditional pre-order model. As Amy puts it, it’s more an ‘acknowledgement of intent’ – if there’s enough interest, the piece will get made and the customer gets notified to buy.

So far it’s had positive results. Not only has it given Amy valuable insight into what her customers want (enabling her to streamline her production), but Tibi has seen over 400 units reserved across a variety of styles and price points.

Now, it’s becoming a part of her business long-term – she’s currently trialling pre-reserve on the @Tibi account too. For Amy, it’s more than an indicator of revenue and interest – it’s about building customer loyalty. ‘My goal is to build love and excitement, get the customer’s contact information and have a receptive audience when the goods do arrive.’


of customers interested in customised products would rather be led by the brand and choose from options.

were willing to wait longer for a personalised product or service.

Find out more about Tibi at

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