Keep This In Mind When You Discount Your Fashion Designs

Hey fashion designers,

We are in between seasons right now and you’re probably transiting slowly to the autumn. Maybe you’ve even unpacked your autumn collection and you’re trying hard to get rid of the spring/summer pieces left. So you think of discounting some items.

I get it! You want to be profitable and still get something out of those unsold items…So instead of registering a total loss, why not just sell your fashion designs at a discounted price?

Well, the idea sounds good. On paper.

But I just wanted you to think about the situation you’re ending up with and the related consequences.

What Discounting Your Designs Says About Your Fashion Brand

So if you’re reading this article, you’re probably in the situation when you absolutely need to get rid of your designs for cash. And you think that the quickest way would be to ask for less in exchange.

Well I’d like you to read this carefully.

Trust me: Experience taught me that the price is not the real problem. If you feel forced to lower your prices to sell, it’s not because your products are too expensive. It’s because they’re not perceived as expensive as your price tag says.

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I knooooow. Ouch, right?

Having to lower your price just means that you didn’t do your job correctly as a fashion business owner. So if you’re into that situation right now, I invite you to think where you did wrong.

If nobody buys, it means that there is a mismatch between what your customer expects and what your product or your offer looks like. Or you’re forcing your product on the wrong customer.

For example, I knew a designer who sold jewelry items. She stated it was meant for Couture. However the material she used looked like plastic. Her website looked cheap. The models she picked didn’t look sophisticated enough, they looked more like women she dressed up for the occasion and forced to look somewhat glamorous for the pictures. She participated to fashion shows but the venues were cheap as well. And the only argument she added to sell her jewels at Couture prices was the time she spent on the pieces. But unfortunately it didn’t show.

It might sound trivial to you but people who actually buy Couture care about that kind of details. Couture is just an example but it would be exactly the same if we were talking about a vegan fashion brand or an athleisure brand.

So, take a step back and ask yourself: Are your customers aware of your brand identity? How? Is there a mismatch between your product and your communication? How do you make your customer dream? Do you sell your products in the right area?

You can also ask a few customers or people from your audience and do this exercise with them. Listen to their feedback and see what you can correct accordingly.

Discounts Don’t Necessarily Give A Good Brand Image

Yes, customers buy. But truth is the more you discount, the weaker your brand image. If you become associated to a brand that keeps lowering its price, it will become difficult to be taken seriously.

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Discounts should be applied carefully on a selected type of goods.

What You Should Discount And What You Shouldn’t

This is what you should know when you decide to discount your prices. Not everything should be discounted.

You should always keep a few pieces that remain untouchable. The pieces that are the most representative of your brand or the ones that are cut in the fabrics that are the most emblematic of your brand should never be discounted. For example, an emerging brand I once collaborated with worked a lot with linen, it was a strong component of their brand DNA and many customers knew them for that. So when they go on sales, they never discount the linen pieces.

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Use Past Data To Balance Your Collection Accordingly

When you design your next collection, you should at least do an analysis of the past collections. Understand what sold well and what didn’t. Analyze why. Get feedback from your customers.

Once you get the feedback, you need to decide what to continue and what to stop. Which pieces are worth re-creating with a twist for the next season.

Also you need to balance the strong pieces with more quiet ones. Your fashion brand identity should be perceptible in each garment you create. It will be louder on the main signature pieces of your collection. Those strong signature pieces should be made in smaller quantities. More mainstream pieces should be made in higher volumes.

Find the combination that best works for you in order to limit future discounts.

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How To Plan Your Timeline When Launching Your Fashion Brand

Hello fashion designers, 

if you plan to launch your fashion label in the near future, you’ve probably felt overwhelmed with all the tasks that need to be done. Or maybe you’ve already started but you are going back and forth, focusing on everything (…and nothing at the same time…let’s be honest….)

Yes! Creating a fashion brand covers so many disciplines at the same time, it’s really really difficult to know what to do – when. 

Whether you graduated from a fashion school or you’re a total newbie and took the leap of faith to launch your dream brand, things can feel a little tough, hectic and messy. Especially if you don’t know whcih direction you are going. 

That’s why I wrote this little reminder to guide you through your brand creation. Keep those in mind and take them as an indicator of the milestones you need to reach. 

1. What’s your concept?

This might sound like a huge surprise for you if you are new to this industry but you don’t start with a finished product that you proudly send for reproduction to a production facility. 

I’ve seen so many designers do things in that order…please don’t!

The number one thing you need to figure out is your concept. By that I mean finding the answer to the following questions:

When you answer those questions, dig deep into your passion. If you come up with very boring answers like “I was shopping at the mall and I found out there is nothing wearable for people my size”…I am begging you! STOP!

Go deeper. We want to know that this label is your reason to live and we want to know why. 

So for this first step, the best concepts come from people who connect their deepest desires to the style they are launching. 

Review your beliefs. Start with the things that motivate you and help you live and wake up in the morning. 

The best presentations I had started with people sharing their experience of the world “I believe in a world where….”. This enables to smartly evolve to your conclusion “This is why  I create the fashion label XYZ…”

This should ideally be done 6 to even 9 months in advance. 

Click the button hereafter to get the short guide with all the deadlines. 

2. Strategize

Strategizing is nothing more than making decisions about the direction you’re going to take for your fashion brand. 

7 to 8 months before starting the brand, you’ll need to decide how you are going to sell your products. At which price, on which location using what kind of communication to promote the collection. 

Use market researches smartly and back the information obtained with the customer you target.

I’d also like to add something about fashion shows: a fashion brand’s objective is not to do a fashion show. If it doesn’t bring you the kind of press your target customer is reading or orders from buyers or at least professional looking pictures, don’t do a fashion show. Go for a tasteful event instead that’s in line with your brand concept. 

Click the button hereafter to get the short guide with all the deadlines. 

3. Who do you target?

The ones who succeed in fashion have a very accurate idea of their potential customers. You need a targeted approach. 

Don’t try to sell to everybody. It’s the best way to end up selling to nobody. 

Know your customer. This is part of your strategizing session 7 to 8 months before the brand creation. You should be able to picture them mentally and know exactly what they look like, where they live and hang out, how they like to spend their day etc. 

Click the button hereafter to get the short guide with all the deadlines. 

4. Design and prototype

As you may have guessed, this is a tricky step. Start it early enough (6 to 9 months before brand launch) so that you get options. 

Unless you already work in that industry and know suppliers, you need to get in touch with them. You also need to gain their trust. 

What if you don’t? They will be reluctant to work with you. They will keep a high Minimum order quantity and will be less willing to budge. 

Don’t neglect the previous steps. You may be just starting but manufacturers also assess the solidity of your project according to your professionalism. A designer who is serious about his business has a clear vision of his concept. A designer who is serious about his business knows which customers he targets. A designer who is serious about his business knows how he is going to distribute his products. 

So work on the previous steps before sourcing your fabric supplier and manufacturers. 

Once you are ready, you can start looking for the right suppliers. Go to trade fairs. Check fashion councils in your region. Look on online networks such as Linkedin as well. 

Pick potential partners and have a prototype made to assess the quality of their work.

Click the button hereafter to get the short guide with all the deadlines. 

5. Start social media

2 to 3 months before D-day, start growing your audience social media. Not 3 weeks, 2 to 3 months. Yep, you’ll need every single day to grow your audience. 

So many of you out there think that social media is like a magic potion that you activate once your product is ready. If that’s what you think, it’s time you get the memo: fashion is an overcrowded industry and unless you’re Rihanna opening Fenty backed by a giant luxury group, people are not lining up in front of your store to get your pieces. 

Therefore you need to plan and grow your audience timely. 

And it doesn’t matter if you don’t have your products finalized yet. You can post inspirations and still get the attention of your target customers. 

Click the button hereafter to get the short guide with all the deadlines. 

6. Evaluate the costs

Once you’ve decided exactly which direction you are going to take by when, you can price your strategy and do the costing of each action plan you’ll undertake. 

Then you’ll have a fashion business plan you can work with to know if you end up profitable. 

Ideally a first version of your business plan should be available 2 to 3 months before launching. 

Click the button hereafter to get the short guide with all the deadlines. 


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Launching A Successful Fashion Brand As An Outsider

Arriving into the fashion sector when you don’t work in this industry can feel quite overwhelming. I remember the first time I acknowledged my desire to work in fashion. At that time, I kept watching movies and TV shows related to the industry of my dream. The Devil wears Prada, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sex and the city, Ugly Betty and of course, a classic: Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There I was back then: sitting on my couch, dreaming of a world that looked so amazingly fascinating and yet so unattainable. And the morning afterwards I would drag my feet back to my boring work, dealing with some bank related matters I had absolutely no interest in, just to pay the rent.

Today I still can’t believe how lucky I am to do what I love…Sometimes when I sit in meetings with the fashion designers and the creative and marketing teams or when I help fashion brands conceive their private events and decide which of all the glamorous visuals available we are going to pick, I pinch myself. Am I dreaming?

No, it’s all real! I actually made it.

And so can you!

That being said, dreaming is one thing. Doing it is another. My dreams totally supported me all the way through though. In times when I had the impression of working hard and I still didn’t see the results I was hoping for, my dreams helped me hold on. So keep your dreams vivid and powerful.

So what did it actually take to do my career change in the fashion industry?
Today I want to share with you some advice about what it really took me to work in fashion and now help fashion business owners launch and grow their brand.

Fashion school of design: yay or nay?

We’ve been through this topic in a previous post. In short, It really depends on what you are looking for, how confident you feel with your own abilities and how self-disciplined you are as well.

If you are self-confident and self-disciplined enough, there’s a great deal that you can learn by yourself or in intensive classes without visiting a fashion school. If you’re not subject to imposter syndrome, you can actually think of skipping fashion school and build your own learning path.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m mostly self taught. I graduated from a business school and I worked for a few years as an auditor. In my previous work, I had to assess the quality of all the departments of a company so this helped me a lot understand all the management related tasks in fashion companies. Besides I had already audited shops of prestigious fashion brands such as Armani or Trussardi. So I felt quite confident with the business side of fashion. If you launch your own fashion brand, you’ll definitely need to have a good understanding of all the business-related topics. When I looked at the whole brand creation process from the conception to the sale and I quickly identified which step I really knew nothing about. That’s what I decided to learn thoroughly. In the end, I really deepened fashion design, pattern making, sewing and embroidering.

I took intensive classes in those fields while still working on my 9 to 5 job in the banking industry. This required excellent organization skills and a high capacity to handle the workload required. I was finishing my homework while eating at the cafeteria of the bank during lunch time (picture me coloring my silhouettes like a five-year old in the middle of a crowd full of grey suits)…But I made it! I was fuelled by passion, and still am! With time, you will see that passion is a vital ingredient to your career change in fashion.

The good thing is I didn’t go through the years required to graduate from a fashion school. I also learned everything my own way, using several resources I had access to. I could also work in parallel. I didn’t have to stop living my life just to go back to school.

However I think I would have benefitted from being in an actual class with other students. I missed the group energy, going through this adventure with other like-minded people. I went through all this on my own and things could be pretty tough sometimes!

Now after taking a step back, if I had to re-do it, I’d probably visit a fashion school. When I started my career change, I thought it would take less time. But I didn’t measure how much I would have to struggle with my own imposter syndrome. No matter what I did, it never looked good enough and I kept belittling all the things I learned. Just because I didn’t graduate from a fashion school. Would I have been less critical if I graduated from a fashion school? Probably…

The funny thing is after writing The Fashion Business Plan, I ended up lecturing in a top ranking fashion school in the middle of the capital city of fashion in Paris. Teaching enabled me to find out that I knew a lot already. Lots of the learning material can be acquired in a faster and cheaper way.

However you can’t replace the value of network. Especially if you visit the best fashion schools of design, you’ll build a powerful network that will definitely save you time and money once you start your own clothing brand.

So know yourself and weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding to visit or to skip a fashion school of design.

Learn the basic rules of the business of fashion

Like any other industry, fashion follows its own rules. If you want to get in, you have to be aware of those and see how you can play your part.

Visuals, visuals, visuals

This is one thing that might sound very insignificant when you come from another industry: in fashion, looks and visuals REALLY matter.

It doesn’t matter what kind of fashion you are doing: sustainable fashion, vegan fashion, plus-size fashion…doing good is not an excuse for bad taste, on the contrary: by not caring about the quality of your visuals you are damaging your brand and the cause you are supporting.

There are no excuses: if you’re serious about creating your own fashion brand, you have to commit to polishing your visuals from now on.

Don’t underestimate this step! Too many designers still think a good design and a well made garment will be enough. Please get that thought out of your mind! if your visuals look bad, no one in this industry will take you seriously.

So declutter your backgrounds. Use lights. Be careful of the fonts you use. Make your design truly pop. Work or collaborate with professional fashion photographers if needed. Work with models who are able to convey your point of view.

Everything on your visuals need to be there on purpose.

Make it work!

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Raise your standards

All the successful fashion brands I had the honour to work with had another thing in common: a high level of standards.

They have a vision and they won’t rest until their vision comes alive. Exactly as they’ve imagined it.

They don’t send garments down the runway if they’re not fully in line with the vision they embrace. Well, it does happen that by accident, the design we make changes slightly compared to what we originally had in mind. And that’s okay as long as it makes the piece more interesting. If it doesn’t, back to the studio you go!

Read and watch about the fashion industry

At the beginning of my journey, I read two types of books: books explaining how the fashion industry works and giving an overview of the market size and dynamics; then I also read and watched movies about the great designers of our time.

Both were very interesting. The business and market related books really helped me be more realistic and learn about the business models that work. Trust me, you’ll need that. I sometimes fear for the new designers who make their collection and try to sell it, without strategy, without any business knowledge at all.

Two books were especially helpful:

You’ll find more book recommendations here.

Besides I also read about some fashion brands specifically. Coco Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, Vuitton.

Live Immersion: get the vibe of working in the fashion industry

As part of my self-training, I made it a priority to attend fashion events. During my vacation time, I went to fashion weeks abroad to work on emerging fashion designers’ fashion shows. I even helped them organize their fashion events.  

Although they were short, these immersions really helped me confirm whether or not  I wanted to work in fashion.

I learned a lot as well volunteering for fashion brand owners who launched their brand. It really showed me what it does take. Which part I like and which I don’t.

It’s good to know beforehand which tasks you don’t like. It enables you to really identify which tasks you need to hire someone or look for a business partner. Maybe not at the beginning if your budget is tight but I’ve always considered knowing this as a great plus.

Meet people from the fashion industry

Whether you graduate from a top ranking Fashion school of design or not, this step is really key. From now on network is an activity that you need to implement regularly.

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In my case, at the beginning and help me really Circle which part of the process I need to dig into. Once I had the entire clothing making process Clarified, I identified the main people in charge of each step of the process. Then I started contacting people from the fashion industry who were supposed to do that exact same job to get more concrete insights.

So for example I met Fashion designers, patternmakers, fashion marketers, Fashion buyers, people in charge of finding funding for fashion brands.

How I met those people? I asked my current network to introduce me to some of them. I went to fashion related events. I  went to professional trade fairs. I also used LinkedIn to reach out to fashion professionals.

So as you can see, you can reach out to people and build your network slowly from scratch!

It’s super important to keep meeting people.

Build a compelling story to sell your fashion brand

What makes your story and your point of view interesting? Why did you actually get into this adventure in the first place?

You need to investigate and go deep down into the roots of your motivation. Don’t be shallow. Ask yourself what makes your story unique? How do you translate this into a brand signature?

Last but not least: model the fashion business owners who made it

When you hear about fashion brand owners who succeeded while being outsiders, read about them. Find out what they all have in common and identify the lessons you need to implement for your own fashion brand.

” You need to follow your creative instincts, try not to be everything to everyone and be innovative in a way that’s marketable. “

Abrams, founder of Rails

” I did a lot of research and fully immersed myself in the field. For three years I traveled to every fashion week I could be invited to, tried networking as much as possible, and visited factories in Asia to learn their processes and train my Senegalese artisans. I just fully focused on learning rather than making any sales.

It was challenging because I had to invest a lot to travel and self-explore in a field I knew nothing about, but my previous experience on Wall Street definitely helped me to structure everything I saw into a business model and be able to make projections. “

Diarra Bousso, founder of Diarrablu

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CASH & FUNDING: Raising Capital As A Fashion Brand

Fashion FXF - Fashion business - How to start a clothing line (1)
Hi guys,

In today’s post we interview Rachel Chicheportiche, the President of the high-end accessories brand Jerôme Dreyfuss. It is an excerpt from our book, The Fashion Business Plan, that explains what makes a business plan in the fashion industry so specific and helps fashion designers write their very own business plan.
Making soft and supple leather bags, as well as shoes, for the cool downtown girl, the brand has been carried by most stylish women in the world, including Julianne Moore, Keira Knightley, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Kruger and Jessica Biel. It has significantly expanded worldwide. Besides the Parisian flagship store, stores were opened in New York, London, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipeï.
Rachel Chicheportiche has managed both capital raising (MEUR 3) that enabled to fund the brand’s booming activity.

What were the key success factors that enabled the brand to raise capital?

Key success factors are mostly good products and good financials, to be able to raise capital it is important to explain your business plan and the potential of the company, on the other hand, team is crucial, there is no company without a right team.

You raised capital twice with the same investment company. Why did you choose them?

I choose them because we had a good fit, I rely on them and they rely on us. That being said, raising capital is always a question of conditions, they are prerequisite of any raise of capital. To define good condition we must know how the money will be used, and when.

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Which elements of your presentation did the investors especially appreciate?

I think it is a mix of my personal energy and my strength of conviction, investment companies see so many people, if you want them to invest in our company, you have to convince them, to have them believe in your vision of the market, its evolution, and your way to address it.

Once the capital raised, what are the specific requirements from the investors? How do you report to them and what did you implement in order to satisfy those requirements?

Obviously financials reports which helps you to stay always on the safe side and to be sure you are in line with your strategy and you targets.

Which advice would you give to emerging fashion designers who think of raising capital to develop their brand?

The only thing I would say is: If you were an investor, would you invest in your company?
Think about it

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Interested in raising money for your own fashion brand? 

Here is the tool you need to get for yourself. The fashion business plan provides you with a step-by-step approach to write it all down.

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The Fashion Business plan - Fashion FXF - Fashion cross functional