by Megan Lester
Thursday, March 12 2015
Thinking about starting your own fashion line? You have come to the right place! We assembled a group of powerhouse panelists at MAGIC February 2015 to give us the inside scoop on launching a line and building an international brand. Our eye-opening seminar was packed with aspiring fashion entrepreneurs and invaluable advice.
Here are nine tips straight from our style veterans that will help you get your line off the ground—and into the market:
- Know your niche. “You need to know that you are filling a need that is not being represented. Why am I going to buy your product and not someone else’s? Focus on what you have. Stick with it. Do not try to be everything to everybody; just be true to yourself,” says Mary Wilberding of Design Alliance Group.
- Understand the development costs. “Developing one pattern, one sample, you are looking at least $500. How many pieces are you going to have in the line? What kind of colorways are you going to include? Having a development cost spreadsheet is very important,” says Frances Harder, President of Fashion Business Inc. Teri Watts, CEO/Founder of Shoppista adds, “Be very aware of your pricing and your cost so you can actually sell what you are producing and live on it.”
- Do not look for an investor too early. “Please do not tell me you are looking for an investor, because that does not happen until you have some orders and you have proven that you are going to do what it is you are going to do. Whether it is the best thing since sliced bread, investors are investing in you and your product,” says Harder.
- Consider having a partner. “Ralph, Calvin and Tommy all had partners. They would not be where they are today if they did not have partners,” says Wilberding.
- Know your role. “If you have a partner, make sure you clearly define what you are both going to do. Is one the financial and one the designer? Write it down, record it and have it as evidence,” says Harder.
- Know retail. “When you have a partner, make sure he or she understands retail because it is scary. If your partner does not actually understand the ebb and flow of the retail cycle, all of those things are going to freak them out,” says Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail.
- Merchandise, merchandise, merchandise. Harder says, “Think about the buyer and what they are looking for. So many people just want to do a t-shirt line. Merchandise your apparel and your website. A lot of the colleges teach creativity, but they do not teach merchandising.” Harder adds, “Merchandising is key because that is the hook for you to get your buyers—putting it together so they can see it and understand it—so they don’t have to think too much.”
- Stay true to your brand. “Brand loyalty. It means that they love your product and they want to come back and buy it. That may also mean just the way it is produced. Brand loyalty is from design all the way through to production,” says Harder. Wilberding adds, “I think brand loyalty is your seatbelt during tough times. It is very tempting to lower your standards and do something special for that particular buyer because you will get the sale. You really need to hold on.”
- Make sure your marketing is consistent. “Everything needs to support the way that product is. The font that you choose, the colors you choose to surround that with, and the imagery of your photographs. How do they elevate your brand and image in the consumer’s eyes? You have to think about all of those things,” says Watts.
Learn more about fashion firsthand! Register for the August 2015 MAGIC show!