How To Get Your Fashion Designs in Boutiques: The Inside Scoop From a Fashion Buyer!

Getting your fashion designs in stores can give you major credibility, exposure and prestige! Retail stores have large customer bases, lots of foot traffic, and well-marketed online sites that can really help to launch your brand!

For new designers, I recommend that you focus on getting your designs sold in small boutiques before trying to get into department stores to gain exposure and to learn the ropes. Small boutiques are usually more flexible for new designers and you can use the exposure in their store to help build up press about your brand.

Trend & Lifestyle
Do your designs cater to the stores target demographic? Do your designs fit into the lifestyle of the consumer? Does your product work with what is fashionable/ on trend in their stores? Make sure that you visit stores to make sure your brand makes sense there before setting up meetings with Fashion Buyers. You don’t want to waste a ton of time trying to sell your hipster clothing line to a store, only to realize that they focus on purchasing wear-to-work clothing for businesswomen.

Price Range
Do you understand what customers are willing to pay for your product? How much are customers paying right now for similar products? Have you done your research? Stores have to be able to make a profit and you need to make sure you have priced your designs for you to make a profit before even meeting with any buyers. In a tough economy, Buyers are playing it safe when it comes to price, so this can make or break you.

Hanger Appeal
Does your product sell itself just by being on a hanger or is it tricky and only looks good when a customer tries it on? Your product must function and look fabulous with no explanation/convincing from sales people. Product needs to have hanger appeal that will convince buyers that customers will see your product in their stores and will just have to buy it on the spot!

Distribution
Fashion Buyers will want to know who else you sell your designs to. Are you established in other stores, like small boutiques or do have a big online following? Will your designs be exclusive to their store or is it the same product that you are selling in other stores?

Delivery
You have to be able to ship your product on the agreed date. You cannot be late. Trust me, you don’t want to be late…it can become a very, very expensive mistake! If you are late on shipping your product, a buyer might decide to just cancel their order all together, which can potentially put you out of business if it’s a big order because you’ve already spent the money to make the product and now you have nowhere to sent it. Also, how often will you ship new collections? Generally, most brands ship new designs monthly, some ship new product twice a month.

Are you Ready?
Fashion Buyers want to make sure you are really ready to be in business. Their stores credibility is at stake if something goes wrong with your product (such as quality issues, late shipments, etc). Stores are taking a risk by doing business with you and do not want to be let down if you can’t deliver on your agreements.

Next Steps
If Fashion Buyers are excited about your line and you meet all of the applicable criteria that I mentioned in the post, they may want to give you an order. Buyers may want to “test” or try your product in 1 of their stores or in a handful of their stores. You will sell the product to them at a cost price (set by you) and you and the buyer will work out the rest of the details from there.

It can be a difficult for a brand new designer to launch their designs in well-known stores because of the lack of credibility and selling history as a newbie. This is why I recommend that new designers start out trying to sell to small boutiques. You can start out with a small order, as a test and hopefully grow from there.

Some new designers may decide to start out by doing consignment with small boutiques. Selling on consignment basically means that your designs will be put up for sale in the store and you will only get paid for what sells. Just be aware that this concept works to the stores advantage, not yours (there is basically no risk for the store if the product doesn’t sell). You will have to take back what doesn’t sell (or you can try sell it to the store at a discounted price).

Finding Careers in the Fashion Industry

The vibrant, ever-changing fashion industry is always looking for brilliant minds with an idea of what comes next in design and merchandising. Could you be that visionary voice? What does the future hold for jobs in the fashion industry?

Check out some of the top fashion industry jobs, and learn what you can do to work your way into one of these exciting careers.

Fashion & Retail Management

If you love fashion and you’ve always wanted to own your own business, a degree in retail management could be right up your alley. You already know what shoes to pair with that little black dress for the perfect night out, but you need to learn the details of management as it relates to fashion. Courses in fashion sales, retail history, and more can give you the experience you need to enter the field with confidence.

Management Salary Points. In 2007, retail sales managers and supervisors saw mean annual earnings of $39,210, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Management positions at high-end boutiques and specialty stores might earn more, depending on location and experience.

Fashion Merchandising Careers

If you stand behind your brand, you have to be able to sell it. Fashion merchandising is an umbrella term that covers a range of careers, including: Merchandise managers ” Fashion buyers ” Fashion marketers ” Fashion sales

Even those who specialize in creating window dressings for department stores fall under the category of fashion merchandising.

Fashion merchandise managers see a lot of use in today’s fashion economy. “Today it’s the merchandise manager who carries the weight,” Marvin Traub, a retail consultant, told the New York Times. “He has an eye to the numbers.” While a degree or certificate in fashion merchandising may not be required for all careers, it can help to have the technical knowledge you can pair with you existing passion.

Merchandising Salary Points. Wholesale and retail buyers earned $53,580 in 2007, the BLS reports. That same year, purchasing managers across all industries earned mean annual wages of $90,430. While that figure goes well beyond the fashion industry, it should give you an idea of the kind of salary a skilled manager in the field might expect.

Fashion Designers

When you first think of jobs in the fashion industry, you might picture famous fashion designers like Donatella Versace or Michael Kors. While it’s true that most work can be found in fashion hubs California and New York, designers typically work all over the country, running small businesses and boutiques. Whether you’re dreaming of small-town success or a big-city dream, training in fashion design can get you there.

Fashion Design Salary Points. Fashion designers saw mean annual wages of $71,170 in 2007, according to the BLS. Most designers worked in New York or California, cementing the notion that your best chances for employment are on the opposite coasts.

While competition is keen for many careers and no degree can guarantee a job, graduates of fashion schools are still finding a viable job market. Research fashion schools to get a better idea of your potential future.

Fashion Design From Concept to Retail – The Who, What, Why and Wear of How a Garment is Made

We wear clothes all day and every day, but most people don’t think about how their garments make their way from the fashion designer’s imagination to the store. Sure, we know that designers come up with the concepts, and that stores sell the clothing, but what happens in between? As you’ll see, the fashion design process has many steps and countless professionals involved along the way. It really makes one appreciate the work that goes into what we wear – and how large the fashion industry is.

1. Research. Before any design can begin, the fashion designer has to do some research. First of all, who is the target market? Is it men or women? What age group? How much money do they make? What are their interests? The second type of research needed is trend forecasting. Since it can take up to two years before a garment makes it to retail, designers have to know what will be popular in the future in terms of styles, trends, and colors. Fortunately, there are companies who specialize in market research and trend forecasting, so apparel companies can subscribe to the information without actually doing all the legwork.

2. Design. After digesting all the research, the fashion designer begins creating. He or she will hand sketch the designs using the industry standard Nine Heads drawing technique, or sketch them with a computer program. In the margins, the designer will write specs, e.g., the color, fabric, texture and other details. The fashion sketch is called a “croquis.”

3. Sourcing materials. Once the sketch is completed, the materials need to be found. Either the designer or a design assistant looks for fabric, buttons, trim, zippers, anything that is necessary to complete the garment. It sounds like a fun shopping trip, but keep in mind that the person sourcing has to stay within a budget.

4. Pattern making. Next, the pattern maker takes the fashion designer’s sketch and creates a workable pattern from which the actual garment can be sewn. The pattern maker also develops the marker, a layout for how the pattern goes onto the fabric. All the pieces of the garment, in every size, are configured on the marker so there is minimal fabric wasted.

5. Production. When the pattern is created, apparel manufacturing can begin. This step involves many areas including costing, production planning, global dynamics, and quality control. At this stage the company must decide whether to manufacture locally, or even within the United States, or overseas, where labor is cheaper. With so many components and production channels involved, the manufacturing aspect of fashion design is an industry within itself.

6. Buying. Unless apparel companies have their own stores, they will present their merchandise at trade events to fashion buyers. Buyers then choose the pieces they feel will sell at their stores at the best price. Just as the fashion designer must forecast the styles that will appeal to consumers in the future, so must the buyer.

7. Marketing. Behind the scenes, the fashion marketing machine is in full motion so that when the clothes are manufactured and hit the stores, shoppers will want to snap them up off the racks. Marketers need to understand consumer attitudes and behavior and develop a keen sense of the emotional triggers that will persuade them to make purchase decisions.

8. Merchandising and retail. Once the clothes hit retail, it’s the job of the fashion merchandiser to create a visually appealing merchandise display to lure consumers into the store to buy, buy, buy. Mannequins, props, and sometimes very unexpected elements all work together to stop customers in their tracks. But merchandising is only part of the equation at retail. Savvy fashion design companies educate retailers on their merchandise so the sales staff can be knowledgeable about the product line and more effectively sell one-on-one with customers. Marketing and merchandising hooks them in; the retail staff closes the deal.

Although the preceding was a very basic rundown of the production of a garment, it’s clear that the fashion design industry is huge, with many layers and players. It bodes well for those interested in a fashion career, as there are myriad job positions besides the fashion designer. Therefore, whatever interests or skills one might have, there’s probably a career in fashion for them.