Today we start a series of posts about the step by step to create a fashion brand. From the business model to marketing strategy, business planning to sales channels and funding, everything you must know before placing your first fabric order will be here!
So, you have decided to create a brand. It may be a childhood dream, an idea that you have nurtured for a while or an opportunity to address a gap in the market. The most important thing is to be very confident about your decision and prepared to enter into one of the most competitive sectors out there. Keep in mind that Tom Ford has said that even Hollywood is easier to navigate than fashion. And he is one of the most powerful designers in the world! Don’t be fooled by the glamour, the parties or the shows. But you probably already know that. Let’s cut to the chase:
– Experience: having previous experience in the market is very important. First, because you will better understand how things work out in the real world and because you have the chance to meet many suppliers, from different areas and their contacts will be precious. Of course, there are successful cases of designers that launched labels just after graduation but they are getting rarer. Still in doubt? Read these arguments.
– Business vs. Creativity: by now you are aware that a brand goes way beyond designing beautiful products and owning one means dealing with spreadsheets, deliveries, payments, accountancy, orders… It’s imperative to be prepared to handle the business side or have someone to do that. It can be a partner, a manager or a financial consultant. Even if you are willing to do by yourself, get some help. Your creativity will thank you later.
– Investment: you need capital not only to start the business but also to run it for a while. It may come from your own savings, family/friends, bank loans or from investment companies. Nevertheless, carefully calculate how much you need to set up and keep the brand for at least one year. Most businesses don’t pass the second year because they can’t secure cash flow, so, avoid this trap. Consider delaying the launching until you acquire the minimum amount.
– USP (Unique Selling Proposition): why do you want to create a brand and what will make it unique? These are hard questions but the most important answers to focus on. Fashion is an oversaturated sector but there are opportunities to explore. Do research specific segments; learn more about innovation and how technology can be applied in the industry. Everyone is talking about “disruptive” models and the expression may be turning into a cliché, nevertheless it’s what the market needs to impress the consumers.
If you are still in doubt about how to run a business, look for consultancy, mentorship, workshops and every source of professional information that may be useful. Here are some of them:
- Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE): London’s pioneering fashion business incubator is part of UAL (= Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion) and supports entrepreneurs in the UK and abroad with a diverse range of programmes. J.W Anderson, Mary Katrantzou, Marques’Almeida and Peter Pilotto are few of the alumni. (Note: I have worked there and truly recommend it!)
- British Fashion Council (BFC): the organisation supports designers in different ways, with programmes focused on specific sectors (womenswear, menswear, millinery, jewellery, accessories, etc.) and also helps emerging brands via the London Showrooms and the London Fashion Showcasing Fund.
- UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT): it works as a network that brings together designers, manufactures, retailers and agents to promote business across the country and overseas. Members can get business advice and guidance to expand sales channels, among other services.
Next week the subjects are sourcing, production and retail channels. Stay tuned!