Working with fashion start-ups every day means I see clients making the same mistakes and repeating the same patterns over and over. Here I let you in on the secrets of the top 5 mistakes fashion startups make, and how to avoid them.
1. Approaching a factory with a rough sketch.
Time and time again I get clients through the door who have already approached factories without the right information. And guess what? Each client has invariably spent an awful lot of time and money learning from their mistakes the hard way.
At best, factories will deem you as completely out your depth, inexperienced and won’t entertain you as a client. At worst you’ll make mistakes the expensive way.
Getting inaccurate attempts at samples back from factories is very disappointing, not to mention disheartening, but when you haven’t provided them with good quality, exact instructions to follow, then it’s really not so surprising.
What’s the solution?
Professional CADS, tech packs and size specs are what you need to hand over to a factory from the beginning, to receive accurate quotes and more importantly, good quality samples. To produce your initial ideas into full factory ready packs see here.
2. Getting a graduate or graphic designer to design your range cheaply.
To some, this may sound harsh but in a nutshell cheap is not always best. Graduates need to start somewhere, and there are millions of amazingly talented graphic designers out there, but neither are qualified Fashion Designers. Graduates and designers from disciplines just do not have the experience and knowledge to advise you on what will work with your design, and more importantly what will not. How can they advise your factory on what machine they need to use to finish an armhole? Do they know the difference between a run-and-fell seam and a french seam?
What can you do?
It takes time to build up this professional knowledge, and if you are a fashion start-up who is not from a fashion background, you need to trust a professional and qualified designer who is going to help you make the best job of your range. Look for a designer with at least 5 years commercial experience in your product field. Invest in this initial stage and the benefits you’ll reap will outweigh the costs. Have Michelle Ramsay design your range here.
3. Making your range too large.
I spoke with a client last week who wanted to produce 50 different styles in their initial launch range. Immediately alarm bells rang. Firstly if you’re lucky you’ll find a factory who will produce 50 pieces per colour per style. Maybe you want to produce 3 colourways per style. Multiply this by 50 styles and you are looking at 7500 to start off. This is all very well and good if your budget allows, however, if you're like most start-up brands and budget is tight then maybe you need to reconsider.
What is the alternative?
Get some expert advice on range planning and review your styles together in a consultation here. Look at what you need in your range to start with. Perhaps you can cut colourways or styles to include the important pieces. Over time you can build on this and keep investment risk to a minimum.
4. Having an unrealistic launch date.
Launching a collection takes time. More time than you think. Most fashion designers work 2 - 4 seasons ahead, so trying to launch for spring when it’s already winter is a big ask. There are so many things to source, approve and co-ordinate. Whilst it’s fantastic to be ambitious and driven, be realistic.
How can you do this?
Factor in extra time for mistakes, let downs and mishaps. Do not commit to anything with big financial commitments like a photoshoot until you have a definite delivery date of samples, or the end is in sight. If you want to find out more about timescales you can discuss timelines here.
5. Spending money with suppliers prematurely.
One of the sad parts of the job is meeting clients who have paid for services by factories, suppliers and sometimes designers, to find the goods are not delivered and the trail goes cold. It is hard when first starting out, as you need to build relationships and have no history to go on. But there are some things you can look out for.
Always try to interview your designer and make sure you have an agreement in place. Look at feedback from other clients to gauge the reputability and make sure they have similar products in their portfolio. Visit manufacturers if you can either at there place of work or a trade show. Look over their ranges and see what other customers they have. Try to negotiate payment terms you're comfortable with. Invest in a contract and make sure to stay in contact for regular updates. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
How can The Fashion Expert help you avoid each of these mistakes?
1. Mentoring services to discuss your individual range, with advice on creating a cohesive, commercial launch. Book in for a consultation here.
2. Over 15 years experience in womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, active apparel and swimwear, lingerie and loungewear, accessories and technical apparel. A full, professional design service producing industry standard cads, techs and spec. Find out more here.
3. Help with range planning and deciding what you need to include in your collection can be discussed here.
4. Realistic information regarding timescales with a timeline you can discuss here.
5. Consultation on production as well as a full guide to manufacture, specifically for fashion start-ups. Download the guide here.
Get in touch today, I can't wait to hear more about your ideas!