Passion, creativity and a willingness to work hard and learn are the skills you need to take an idea past the dreaming stage, however sometimes a few tips help too. Vicki Wallis, founder of 29andSeptember Studio, a consultancy which helps start up fashion labels, shares her knowledge gained from working with brands as diverse as Topshop, French Connection, Zara and Alice McCall over the past decade.
- Identify your brand and customer
You can’t be all things to all people. To begin with map out what your brand stands for, who your customer is (or who they will be) and your aesthetic.
- Design a collection tailored to your target audience
Now you’ve got a target customer in mind, design a range that’s perfect for them – not a wide range of people, but your specific niche. Most people find this step the most exciting, as it’s the opportunity to be creative, push the boundaries and delight your audience.
- Create technical drawings and tech packs
This stage is the bridge between your creative ideas and the practical side of manufacturing, as these documents give the supplier clear instructions on exactly how you want your designs to be made. Contrary to popular belief, this too, can be creative and exciting. For example, you could use construction techniques that provide extra comfort for the wearer, or add beauty from the inside. Using your imagination and looking past standard sewing techniques can help set you apart.
- Organise sampling and manufacture
You want to make sure that what you’ve designed on paper is just as beautiful and functional in real life. By having several fittings, you can perfect the fit, ensure that all your components work together and make sure the garment serves its purpose, whether that’s to excite your customer, create a stunning piece of wearable art, or perhaps a little of both. When you’re happy with your sample you can then work with your manufacturing partner to produce your final pieces.
- Market your collection
Advertising can take many forms; for creatives, Instagram is the social media platform of choice, as it’s such a visual space. However, don’t underestimate the power of Facebook advertising, Pinterest as a traffic generator and other forms of marketing such as PR, lookbooks and in-person events. Treat any marketing activity as an extension of your brand and creativity – excite and inspire your customer with your marketing in the same way that you would your designs.