DESIGNER TOOLBOX- 4 Key Advice To Sell Your Pieces In Paris

Hi Guys,
Paris Fashion Week ends this thursday. For those of you who followed the fashion week from far, you maybe wonder how to bring your brand to Paris and make it a success. Today we interviewed Valeria Diaz, Fashion Buyer of Paperlab, a concept store inside BHV Marais one of the most famous department stores in Paris.

All the fashion designers worldwide dream to make it in Paris one day. What does a fashion brand need to do for that?

Fashion brands need to bring something different and really create something. The creative process is really important. People are tired of seeing the same stuff all the time. Why Paris is this « carrefour » (Ed.note: crossroad) of fashion? The fashion industry is always changing with seasons, but Paris will always be a place where trends are imposed and promulgated. It all started with the king Louis XIV, who started to bring the best designer to make his garments. From this moment, all the world started to copy the styles and traits. People were waiting the new trends in Paris to start using them. So, Paris is certainly one of the capital cities of fashion because of its originality. I would add that new designer need to show their uniqueness and « savoir faire » (Ed.note: Know how, craft) they represent.

What are the expectations of the Parisian clientele in terms of fashion? What do customers like there?

The clientele in Paris is so large. You have a lot of types of clients. Paris…it’s the most visited city in the world, so you’ll always have the tourist type of clients, trying to find the different pieces, that are « introuvables » (Ed.note: that cannot be found) in their cities. This type of client, is very important he will show your product in another country, this makes your brand more visible to another possible new market.
The Parisian clientele is very eclectic, so your brand has the possibilities to be part of it.
But in general terms, Paris is well known because of its quality products, elegance and design. Fashion in Paris.

What are the requirements fashion designers need to prepare to sell in a retail store in Paris?

First of all, captivate the buyers. And show them why your brand it’s different and why Paris needs this type of products. And then, captivate your clients. How? Social media is very important to show your brand to the largest public. Also show your DNA, your philosophy, why your brand is different or has a value. People are more and more criticizing fast fashion. There’s a new client trend: « le client engagé » (Ed. Note: Ethically aware customer), who is worried about environment, fair trade and good production conditions. If your piece is expensive but you have a fair trade company using recycled fabrics for example, the client will say « I don’t care about the price, I pay for quality and good working conditions. » I’ve heard a lot of clients like this. They don’t care about paying more for a white casual t-shirt, if it’s well done.

What would you recommend to fashion designers who want to sell in Paris?

I would recommend to start in pop up stores to see how the clients receive the product. Being there will allow to see the different types of clients, and to see what you need to change or adjust to the Parisian market. There are also a lot of collectives that regroup new brands and designers to sell them in different places and events you can try your chance there also.


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SALES : The Ultimate Guide To Sell Fashion On The African Market

copy-of-copy-of-pressHi guys,
In an article of May 2015, Business of Fasshion deemed Sub-Saharan Africa’s combined apparel and footwear market was worth $31 billion, according to data modelled by Euromonitor. Opportunities arise. So in order to help fashion designers succeed into the African fashion market, FXF interviewed Dr. Karan Khurana, PhD, Assistant Professor at EiTEX, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia.

How is fashion doing on the African market?

The African continent has shown an immense potential in socio-cultural and economic growth and hence has attracted a lot of interest from various other trading nations in the last two decades. According to European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS, 2015) the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have experienced sustained economic growth, with growth rates often exceeding 5% per year over the past 15 years. The latest World Bank report on SSA, ‘Africa’s Pulse’ shows economic slowdown in Sub-Saharan Africa, with growth decreasing in 2015 to 3.7% from 4.6% in 2014. Growth is expected to pick up gradually again in 2016 and 2017, pushed up by domestic demand generated by consumption, investment, and government spending. Internally also African Fashion designers made a mark in contemporization of traditions (prints from west Africa or traditional weaving from Ethiopia) and brought a new edge to the fashion market. Increasing consumer demand and awareness of clothing as a way to exhibit culture and the inclination towards the west makes a very strong consumer base in Africa. China is currently the dominant trader in clothing in Africa. In the HS 61 category, the value of Chinese exports to Africa expanded to a whopping US$560 million in 2011, accounting for 61.8 percent of the traded volume in this category (Kamau, 2013). According to UN figures ( 2013, South Korea and Canada combined exported $59m worth of used clothes to Tanzania while the UK alone exported $42m worth of used clothes to Kenya.

This leaves way for a very intense challenge against Chinese and used garments for the new designers in Africa.

What are the opportunities for fashion brands in Africa?

Africa stands today as a land of opportunities for fashion brands as sooner or later the consumer will look out for options in all fashion segments. A.T. Kearneys`s 2015 African Retail Development Index (ARDI) reconfirms that there is potential in dynamic countries such as Gabon and not only Nigeria and Ghana. Zara the Spanish garment giant is already present in Africa with around 21 stores. H&M, which has stores in Egypt and Morocco has set up a base for production in Ethiopia. ‘Made in Africa’ label is the future of young and emerging designers as they know the consumer best.
African fashion brands such as Rethaka, a South African female-owned ‘green innovations’ repurpose schoolbags: 100% recycled, solar-powered backpacks that can be used as study lamps at night; Dumebi is Nigeria’s first homegrown and sustainable bespoke fashion brand; Soul rebels from Ethiopia 100% recycled shoes are a few notable examples of flourishing local trade.
What will it take to succeed in the African fashion market?

One of the biggest advantage to African designers is the knowhow of their land. Africa is a land of complex cultures and creates an interesting mix of consumers which is quite a task for international brands to understand. This opens infinite opportunities for the local trade to make a mark. Design innovation in Africa has always been a very desirable strategy as the local designers shall realize the need of the consumer precisely in terms of the marketing mix. Social entrepreneurship shall see a strong impact on African business as it’s the way to sustainable development in social context which is the need of the hour.

African Fashion rises. What would you recommend African fashion designers to help them thrive globally?

Fashion is a highly segmented business, where “a size does not fit all,” and is open to the implementation of different business models from luxury to mass retail, to niche targets (Khurana, Ricchetti ,2016). The world of African design awaits contemporization where the designers shall find novelty to supply to the west. As discussed earlier the west is moving towards sustainable production and supports objects in this line. The battle against Chinese and second hand garments is surely the way to success in terms of cost and selection of dressing ideologies. Finally, the domestic credibility in local markets across Africa shall be the pathway to successful businesses as the middle class consumer is the future of investments in the coming decades.

Africa’s Pulse, World Bank, October 2015. (

Karan Khurana Marco Ricchetti, (2016),”Two decades of sustainable supply chain management in the fashion business, an appraisal”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 20, Iss 1 pp. 89 – 104

Lionel Zamfir, Africa’s economic growth, European Parliamentary Research Service, January 2016. (

Paul Kamau, 2013.
Chinese ascendancy in the global clothing industry

Dr. Karan Khurana, PhD, Assistant Professor at EiTEX, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia. He currently holds a teaching experience of seven years in fashion management studies in India and Ethiopia. He also holds a dual master one in Fashion Marketing from I.E.D, Milano and another M.B.A(Retail Management) from India. His research interests are sustainability, Eco- Branding and marketing and social responsibility in fashion.


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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