We all have to start somewhere, right? We all go through the process of asking the “dumb” questions, and fall prey to a lot of uncertainties. Starting your first fashion collection is just like a new mother, you are going to want to be very hands on and try to control every millisecond of your its journey to life. It is something that every new entrepreneur goes through. After all, you’ve spent a lot of money to make this happen. This is your dream, and it could make or break you!
Too Narrow or Too Wide of Demographic can be the Kiss of Death!
I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your demographic. There are two ways to kill your brand before it starts:
“People like me”. You are unique, and selling only to people like yourself will lead to too narrow of demographic. If you are creating clothes that you like, try expanding on that! Where do you fit within a demographic? Gender, lifestyle, age, what drives you? On the flip side, starting a fashion collection with a demographic of “everyone” is the other kiss of death.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before ever putting your pencil to paper, before contacting any designers or any factories.
- Who is Your Demographic?
Their age, passions, hobbies, lifestyle, etc. (The more defined, the better)
- What is important to them?
Do they love hiking, the latest trends, video games, school, etc.?
- What motivates them?
Is it their career, their family, strength, peace, a healthy planet?
- Why would they shop for this item?
Is it the holidays? Do they need a party dress? Does this help them work-out?
- Why would this help them?
Does this get them any closer to their passions?
Really sit down and ask yourself these questions. Be honest with yourself. You don’t want too narrow of demographic, but if it’s too open-ended than you risk no one connecting with your fashion collection. It is all about finding your balance.
This is probably the most asked question among new designers. We understand, this is your baby! You don’t want some design studio or factory stealing your idea. That would be a nightmare! But, if they sign a non-disclosure, it would legally bind them from telling anyone or stealing your idea, right?
Let’s be honest with ourselves, we’ve had thousands of years of fashion trends and ideas float from region to region throughout history. So, unless your garment or accessory incorporates some new wearable tech, it is almost impossible to have an original design. Chances are, you yourself are borrowing ideas from other brands and products, and that is ok! As a designer, you are allowed to use inspiration from other sources.
With that being said, the fashion world is much smaller than you think. Design studios and factories are, at the end of the day, businesses, and stealing someone’s idea is bad for business. With that in mind, it’s difficult to prove where a leak came from and signing an NDA only leaves us liable if someone else leaks the information. Dragging us to court for someone having a similar pocket design is going to end with both parties scorned. Instead of asking for an NDA, which most factories and design studios will not sign, ask them if they have a confidentiality agreement for clients to review and sign. Remember, we do not want to steal your baby.
“I would like to produce my collection by the end of the month. Is that possible?”
Short answer: No.
There are a lot of factors that go into how long a fashion collection takes to produce. But, for those of us that are new to the business, even if you have designers, patternmakers, and a factory dedicated to you, or are their biggest client, a two to four week turnaround is almost impossible.
Development typically takes between 4-6 weeks. Production typically takes between 8 and 12 weeks. Factories typically triage their production orders from large clients to new clients. This means that when dealing with larger factories, you are usually kept at the bottom of their list and they will get to your when they have time between larger clients. And that is only when you have everything to them exactly as they want it. If you don’t, then you go right back at the bottom of the list.
That means you should begin planning your first fashion collection about a year in advance. This gives you some breathing room and, trust me, is considerably less stressful. Just be sure to stick to a schedule.
This may seem like tough love, but we want you to be successful! Trust me, every single partner you have wants your brand to be successful. After all, your success is our success. So, loosen your reins, really listen to our suggestions, and know that we, as humans, are not perfect. Your first garment will not be perfect, but we will get you as close to perfect as we can.