SALES: The Ultimate Checklist To Prepare Your Meeting With A Fashion Buyer

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Bonjour Fashion designers,
Since many of you enjoyed our article explaining how to prepare a meeting with a fashion buyer, we summed up the key points in a checklist with 18 advice.

Before the meeting: Understand the store

Prepare this phase by researching information about the store on the internet, asking other people from the industry or maybe by other brand owners who already worked with them.

1 – What kind of fashion brands do they sell (Style, ethics, origin,…)?
2 – Do they actually buy the pieces or do they work on consignment?
3 – Who are their customers? Understand their lifestyle.
4 – What are their commission rates?
5 – What are their payment terms?

Be able to present your fashion brand

6 – What is your fashion brand concept about?
7 – How does your collection compare with the competitors?
8 – Who is your target customer? Briefly describe how your pieces fit in with their lifestyle.
9 – What is your long term vision for your line?

Prepare your collection properly and organize your documents to ease the fashion buyers’ review

10 – Are all your samples ready and well made?
11 – Do you have a Line Document, a Collection Plan and/or a Marketing Plan?

12 – Does your line document, collection plan and/or marketing plan include these items for each garment in your collection:
  • The number of pieces
  • The size options available
  • The color options available
  • The fabric options available
  • The price point – with a detail between wholesale and a suggested retail price

13 – Tag your samples so that you can connect them easily with the items named in your document (with a photo of the garment with a plain/white background for example)
14 – Are you able to provide enough inventory for a large order? For your answer, also take the payment terms information collected into account.

Be prepared to close the deal

15 – How will your fashion brand relate with the store’s current customers? Or will it attract a new potential customer base?

16 – What is your merchandising strategy?
17 – Are you prepared to take the risk if the collection doesn’t sell?

On D-Day, have fun

18 – To finish, make the fashion buyers comfortable, offer some drinks and snacks and relax. Everything will go well!
We keep our fingers crossed for you!

SALES : How To Best Pitch Your Collection To A Fashion Buyer

Hi Guys,
Designing  acohesive collection is not everyone’s cup of tea. Creating a link between your creative instincts and the consumer needs require skill.. But according to industry professionals that’s the easy part when it comes to selling fashion. Your actual challenge as a designer begins when you have to approach retail or fashion buyers in order to pitch your collection so that it can reach your target consumer well within the time and season limits. Below you will find some useful tips from how to catch a buyer’s attention to getting them to purchase your collection:

Getting a meeting with a fashion buyer

– Research Research Research: 
The basic and most time-consuming step begins with conducting a detailed and in-depth research of which fashion buyers can best help you reach your clients. The trick here is to determine which niche you will serve and accordingly look for a retail outlet or buyer in that geographic area.
– Getting a meeting with the buyer:
In order to ensure that the buyers actually agree to see you, you can either contact them through telephone, emails or send a letter by post. Needless to say, you might not get a response at the first go, hence a lot of constant pursuing will be required on your part. While sending them a mail or making the first approach, a lot of designers make a mistake of reserving the strongest pieces for the actual sales pitch which in fact does more harm than good. Hence, make sure that you send the strongest pieces from your collection to get the buyers’ attention so that they agree to see the rest of what you have to offer.

Preparing for the meeting

– Preparing the First Introduction:
Once you have got the coveted meeting with the buyer, make sure you cover all the important information you want to communicate. During the meeting, the buyers like to see actual clothing as it woould look in their store. Hence, make sure that all the samples are of the highest quality. Furthermore, do not compromise on the presentation. When the buyers arrive to see you, treat them as your most cherished guests, preparing in advance, welcome drinks and snacks. Do not give them any opportunity to raise red flags against you.
– Ensuring Technical Information:
As a fashion buyer, your client is interested not only in the looks but also the technical specification of your product, eg. How many pieces of each garment are there in your collection? What colour options, or fabric options you have for your pieces? What is the average price point? What size options do you have int he collection? How does your collection compare with the competitors? You have to make sure that you present all these aspects with the help of a Line Document / Collection Plan and or a Marketing Plan so that it is clear enough for the buyer to read.

What’s in it for me?

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Just like in any other sales pitch, you can avoid the question ‘What’s in it for the buyer?’. Buyers only buy from people they like, trust and depend on. Hence instead of just going on about how good your product is, try to establish a connection of trust and faith with your audience. You can prepare in advance for questions like:
–  Can you provide enough inventory for a large order?
– Do you have a long term/ seasonal vision for your line?

– Will your line speak to current customers?
– Will it attract new potential Client base?
– Do you have a merchandising strategy in place?
– Are you willing to take the risk if the collection doesn’t sell?
If you are able to satisfy these basic concerns of your buyers, you have more than a favourable chance of selling your collection and potentially developing a strong business relation.
by Varun Gupta for Fashion Cross Functional

More information on:
– Photo 1 | Source: Photography by Elizabeth Monge | Stylist: Rauf Noorie | Location: Villagio – Fashion Outlet Chicago Mall

– Photo 2 | Designer: Katharina Domokosch, London College of Fashion 2012
– Photo 3 | Designer: Ivana Pilja

SUCCESS STORY: Once upon a time, there was Orla Kiely

Orla Kiely - Presentation - LFW FW15

Source: Getty Images EntertainmentTristan Fewings

From mugs to handbags and wallpapers to dresses, print pro, Orla Kiely has developed a brand that seems to have no bounds.  Her use of pattern, colour and 60s influences has taken the design world by storm, and she’s become an iconic figure for a period we all still all love to remember.

Beginning her fashion journey, with a Textiles Degree, Kiely’s first taste of fashion industry was in no other than the Big Apple – New-York, where she used her unique talents for pattern creation whilst working for a wallpaper and fabric designer.  Returning to England, she worked for Esprit while studying for her Masters, primarily in knitwear.  It was her exit show at the Royal College of Art in London that gave her her first break, seeing her collection of hats purchased by Luxury London Fashion giant, Harrods.  She went on to design for various other companies, including both Marks & Spencers and Habitat.
Kiely had so far done so well off the back of her hat designs, but during her first Fashion Week show, her father noted that whilst no one was wearing a hat, nearly everyone carried a handbag.  It was this that sparked the inspiration for her next step in fashion design.  Staying loyal to her love of the 60s era, she had the idea to laminate cloth for handbags – something that had never been done before.  These retro creations took off immediately and with the help and support from her husband, things fell into place and she formed The Orla Kiely Partnership in 1997.
Not just a Fashion Designer, but a brand in her own right, she has since been named ‘The Queen of Prints’, designing patterns for kitchenware, stationary, furniture, wallpaper, a range of Citroën DS3 Cars.  Kiely has also had several collaboration collections with English shoe giant, Clarks.  Alongside this, her own fashion brand has continued to grow year on year, having now branched out to include an accessories collection.
So now we’ve heard her Success Story, let’s put it into practise and analyse how she flourished in an industry that can be so challenging to break into.
Iconic Design

From day one, Kiely’s products – whether sheets, mugs or shoes – have been instantly recognisable.  Rather than jumping on the next new trend, she has stayed true to her own influences and inspirations, allowing her designs to be cohesive and stand out in a world of similar styles.  Whilst trend-following and having changing influences may work for certain designers, creating a timeless brand such of that as Chanel requires links between collections and distinguishable features, such as the gold, link binding, or in Orla Kiely’s case, her bold, 60s leaf prints.
Appropriate Product Placement
Whilst connecting and gaining buyers as a new designer can be extremely difficult, it doesn’t mean you should lower your standards or agree to product placement you think is a bad fit.  The Orla Kiely brand is quintessentially 60s, which, although being an era fashionable amongst young people, is mostly recognisable to those who lived through the time.  By breaking into places like Marks & Spencers and John Lewis, her products were displayed in front of the people most likely to make a connection with them, and therefore buy them.
Market Research
Perhaps the most pivotal point of Orla Kiely’s career came with her father’s evaluation of the Market. While Orla had success with her hats, the market was limited, and so were, therefore, her chances of growth.  By opting to design handbags – an accessory that was much more in demand – she opened up her opportunities of selling to a much wider audience.  While it’s key to have unique and eye-catching designs, as a new designer, it’s also important to compel people to try your products. By providing her customers with a product they were much more familiar and comfortable with, she was able to get people on board with her brand.

Attitude & Determination
“Be confident in yourself”; “Have your own opinion”; “Always finish what you started” are just some of the quotes written on the walls of Kiely’s office.  In a world where fashion is often interpreted as glitz and glam, Kiely’s understated and simple creations must have been, at times, hard to believe in.  However, it was arguably their uniqueness which set them out from the crowd.  By never faltering on her style or inspirations and staying true to herself, she was able to create a brand that not just herself, but other people believed in.
by Stephanie Cvetkovic for Fashion Cross Functional
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