Thursday, 2 April 2009

Roving Reporter . . . Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden

4. How many pieces to buyers expect a new designer to have for them to choose from?
The conversation quickly moved round to Averyl Oates and whether she bought into new designers and what it took to get into such a store of Harvey Nichols. She was pleased to announce that Spring 2010 will see Harvey Nichols giving over space on the 4th floor to emerging designers, around 80% of which will be home grown talent! With that aside, Averyl discussed how Giles has perfected deliveries, quality and range of wearable designs, diluted from his catwalk extravaganza. This has in turn seen his business grow by 30%. It’s all good for Giles then, but what about the rest of us?

Well, don’t expect to get the big orders in for up to 3-5 seasons. This is because it will take this amount of time for your DNA to be established and the buyers need to see that you can survive. No one wants to buy in for just one season, there needs to be room for development, year on year. It will also ensure that you have developed your quality and supply chain. In order to buy into your range, a buyer would like to get 12-15 pieces, a full story. This means that you should be looking at producing a collection of around 30 pieces, to allow for selection. We all know that one of London’s biggest problems is lack of finance and once again this comes into play here; around 70%-80% of a budget is used up on pre-collections, with the rest saved for the shows. This means that is often already spent and you really need to impress to get the buyers to part with their cash. Get you price to product ratio right, most designers will not even break even for a many years, some still don’t.

5. How to fund fashion shows? Is the catwalk show dead?
I was pleased that the panel agreed that showing a collection via a video, or installation, is quite frankly a bit rubbish; as Sophia said, you wouldn’t have ‘virtual food’. The truth is buyers still want to see your clothes, there is also no replacement for the pictures from the catwalk that can go live o the web almost instantly. The best advice was to head to unusual industries to look for sponsorship. William Tempest worked with Sony, Tempest (who was in the audience) told everyone to ‘let your passion shine through, be passionate and you will attract’. I get his point, but he pretty much said that things, ‘just happened’ for him; which is always not really what any struggling designer wants to hear. But don’t be scared to ask, go out and look for sponsorship.

It is on that note that I leave you to ponder these juicy pieces of insider information!

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