Why Netflix Will Sell Clothing From 'Next in Fashion' Winners on Net-a-Porter

Next in Fashion Still - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Netflix

Executive producer Yasmin Shackleton and host Tan France explain why the streamer will sell winning fashion online, following a similar move from Amazon's 'Making the Cut.'

Project Runway is about to face some stiff competition from streamers. After Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn jumped ship ahead of the show's Bravo retooling, they teamed to host and executive produce fashion reality series Making the Cut on Amazon, which debuts March 27. And they're taking it up a notch — clothing from the show will be shoppable on Amazon.

Fellow streamer Netflix is also debuting a fashion reality series with pieces based on the winning collection available for purchase. Out Wednesday, Next in Fashion — hosted by Alexa Chung and Queer Eye's Tan France — follows competing design duos over 10 episodes as they take on themed runway challenges such as "prints and patterns," "red carpet," "streetwear" and "underwear." The winner is awarded $250,000 and the ability to sell on high-end retailer Net-a-Porter, starting Feb. 5. 

Guest judges include stylist Elizabeth Stewart (whose clients include Julia Roberts and Gal Gadot), Eva Chen (head of fashion partnerships at Instagram), designer Prabal Gurung (worn by Tracee Ellis Ross and Gemma Chan) and designer Monique Lhuillier (worn by Michelle Obama and Blake Lively). Contestants include designers from Jay Z's Rocawear brand and Stella McCartney's label, as well as some who have dressed Beyoncé, Fergie, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande.

Next in Fashion executive producer Yasmin Shackleton says the goal was to make the show "accessible and relatable," saying, "From the beginning, it was 'How do you make this accessible and not just for the elite of fashion?'" The decision to sell on Net-a-Porter fit because the outlet is global and "they do launch designers who haven't had that kind of platform before. They're looking for unique designers." 

When selecting the winning collection, France says the judges "absolutely" kept in mind what a consumer would realistically purchase.

"The one that won felt so 'next,' but it also definitely felt shoppable. There were separates, there were seasonless, it was technically commercial. In fashion, commercial feels like a dirty word, but it's necessary for a company to stay afloat. That was definitely a consideration when we were deciding who would be the winner," he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

France, who began sewing clothes when he was 13 and got his start as a designer, knows firsthand that getting an up-and-coming designer's pieces on a major retailer can truly launch their career. "I don't think people will understand the weight of that if they're at home and never launched a clothing brand. It's so hard to get on a site like that. It took me years to break through and get onto a major retailer's site," he says. "You go through meeting after meeting, heartbreak after heartbreak. ... So for our winner to be able to jump past that hoop, straight into a global platform, is wonderful and a huge opportunity and hopefully gives our show great credibility." 

The Net-a-Porter partnership also affected the runway categories: "Each episode is based around something that everybody has in their closet," Shackleton says, pointing to the denim challenge. 

Next in Fashion further showcases our long-term support of global fashion talent," Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director of Net-a-Porter, said in a statement. She added that the company (which carries designers from Gucci to Prada) is "delighted" to give "the opportunity to be stocked at Net-a-Porter to an incredibly deserving talent."

Von der Goltz helped coordinate the translation of the winning collection using "those pieces as base patterns to source similar fabrics in a completely different city and country. It was a thoughtful method that was well worth it, because the end result is a true interpretation of the winning collection." The soon-to-be-revealed items are inspired by the shapes, volumes, colors and prints from the finale episode.

Explaining how sales will affect how she views the success of Next in Fashion, Shackleton says she's confident the collection is going to do well. "Are we going to find a winner who is going to be propelled into the spotlight? ... I'm hoping that they sell out and have to restock a million times, because that would show that we've achieved the purpose of the show." 

Next in Fashion aims to modernize the fashion reality genre in other ways, including with a global selection of designers, positive attitude and size-inclusive models. 

"They're all emerging talents as it is, but [we'll find] somebody who can actually break through," Shackleton says of contestants, who hail from everywhere from Brazil and China to the U.K. She cast the show by reaching out to Chen, magazine editors, fashion houses and the CFDA for recommendations, as well as to holding open casting calls in Chicago, New York and L.A. 

"[We] show this is what a workroom looks like. if you go into any designer's workroom, it is widely diverse," France adds. 

And it was a priority to make clothes not just for "a typical female runway model," Shackleton says. France points to the lingerie runway show featuring inclusive body types, not unlike Rihanna's Savage x Fenty event during New York Fashion Week.  

Viewers also won't be seeing cat fights. Shackleton is clear that "there's not bitchiness in this show. It literally is all about celebrating the art and seeing how good and what these people can turn out." She emphasizes that such a positive tone is what makes the show it right for now. 

France agrees. "I wanted to make sure — and I reminded myself of this every day — that it's a positive competition show. ... Alexa and I wanted to make sure that we crafted a show that was very positive, that we never knock down the designers, that we were respectful at all times, because we're designers. We know what it feels like to be critiqued." 

France ended up loving the designs so much that he and Chung frequently beg to wear pieces contestants have made. They haven't yet sported them, however, and he teases that he couldn't find them after the episode wrapped. "I think the producers started to get an understanding that Alexa and I were going to become little thieves on the show, trying to steal stuff that we were obsessed with. So as soon as the episode was over, we never saw those things again. They were very stealthy because they knew how stealthy we were," he says. 

"We don't wear something unless we love it. ... There's a camel suit that I was obsessed with — me and Alexa both tried it on during filming," he says. "You see me in it on camera. You don't see her in it on camera. But we both are fighting over that, and I think that might be the thing that breaks our relationship because [we both] want it so badly. ... In the final two collections, I'd say 90 percent of those collections I want desperately." 

That dream might just become a reality when similar pieces hit Net-a-Porter next month. 

Updated Jan. 29 at 1:48 p.m.