words Alexa Wang
Breaking into the fashion industry can be hard. Many people, fresh out of University, work long hard hours as fashion interns for no or little reward just to try and break into this world. It’s a very cut-throat and competitive environment where some will make it and others will fall by the wayside.
Some people choose another way and set up a label themselves and so bypass the desperate jostling to try and get a position at one of the top fashion houses. Setting up your own label can seem a daunting prospect and many get it wrong. If you have little money behind you and no great connections in the industry it can seem almost impossible. That’s why it is sometimes better to think laterally and start of in a humble way armed with your talent and bundles of self-belief. This is how some people do it and it can pay off. Here are some tips to getting started in the right way with the right atittude that might help you avoid some of the pitfalls.
Start off small
Some fashion designers want to launch their label with full fanfare with lots of investment behind them in the full spotlight of the industry. This can work but can also fail spectacularly. Once you’ve launched this way there is no room for mistakes. If you get it all wrong and your first collection bombs then everyone will know about it and your bridges will be burnt. If you don’t have the contacts or the resources it is better to start small with some humility. Many a label has literally started by selling to friends and family and the quality of design so strong that it starts to take off by word of mouth. Keep costs down, work from home at first. Concentrate on the end product, the quality, the customer service. If you have the talent than this route could work for you. There are organisations that can give you free advice as well such as Fashion Council who run the BFC Fashion Trust.
Build a network
One of the most important things you can do as a young entrepreneur is garner a trusted network around you and your business. You need reliable suppliers, the right materials at the right price is so important. You also need to draw upon a network of fellow entrepreneurs, fellow fashion designers, photographers and graphic designers. You can help each other out, even swap services for free. A good photographer could shoot your look book and you could let them choose some clothes in exchange for instance. A fellow start-up such as a graphic designer could design your logo so you can buy your all-important labels online, for example at Wunderlabel, to grace your first collection. This way your network can grow and flourish together helping each other out with knowledge and experience as you grow.
Promote yourself for free
Just as you’re helped to develop a network around the creative and production side of things you need to do the same when it comes to promotion. You could start a blog and post on your experiences of setting up a fashion business. You could point a post to a friend’s business in return for a mention on their blog. These posts could then be plugged via your social media channels. You need to start small but think big when it comes to promotion. You don’t need to spend a lot in order to gain exposure. If you are as good as you think you are and use your imagination you can make a name for yourself through the quality of your work and your head for self-marketing.