Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Tips to Know Before Starting A Fashion Line

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Creating your own fashion line from scratch is anything but easy or cheap. Whether or not you went to school for fashion design, there are still many aspects of cultivating a concept into reality that can only be learned first hand,” states Jennifer Philbrook, Co-Founder of Stitch Method.  “While my education has provided me with extensive insight, it was learning from my mistakes that helped me launch my own successful line.” 
 
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Stitch Method is Chicago’s premier Apparel Manufacturing & Brand Development Accelerator. Philbrook has worked on the product development of 20+ lines, and offers advice on 5 main concepts she wishes she had known before starting her own line: 
 
1) Develop a Business Plan
A detailed business plan will become your foundation, best friend and roadmap throughout this process. This is an essential starting point when turning an idea into something tangible. Start to outline various aspects of your process; target market, competition, ideal store to carry your product, etc. As you start to divvy up the plan, hone in on the specifics before beginning your own line, ask yourself; who is your target customer, what is your sales and marketing strategy and what are the main goals and objectives.
 
2) Product Development is a Timely Process
Product development is undoubtedly a tedious process, and involves a great deal of trial and error. It is imperative to test the fit, the fabrics and the final garments on your target market and consumer. Development stages vary depending on the specifics of the product. Never rush through this stage or skip steps, every minute aspect plays a part in getting to the next phase.
 
3) Coincide Sales Strategy with the Fashion Calendar
Now that you have outlined your plan, it is time to coordinate your sales strategy with the proper fashion season. When selling wholesale to boutiques, it is imperative that your merchandise is ready to sell during the correct buying season. The same applies for directly selling to customers. With the production process being such a timely step, it is best to determine when you will need to have production ready to ship to stores or customers. By now, you have established your due date and goal and will work backwards through the development stages. This allows you enough time to make sure your line will be ready for the appropriate season.
 
4) Always Plan a Season Ahead
Thinking ahead as a fashion designer is vital. Because the development process is so time consuming, planning for the upcoming season is of the utmost importance. This foresight allows you to stay ahead of the game and ensures that your product line never falls behind the times. While trends inevitably will change, the structure that has been set in place will allow for simpler adaptation with each passing season.
 
5) Producing a Line is Costly
Initial overhead costs will be high right out of the gate. These will become less of a factor as your line evolves. Therefore, staying optimistic even while not seeing an initial return on investment is as difficult as it is crucial. As you begin to form relationships with manufacturers and understand your own business model better, you will be able to execute your next line with much more ease and proficiency.

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