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Presented By Mark Charles
©2011, MarkCharlesBoot.com. This ebook is protected under the Copyright law. No commercial use, no changes. Feel free to share it, post it, print it, or copy it.
The Fashion Designers’ Guide’ started off as a pet project that pretty much took on a life of its own and blossomed into what it is now. The irony of ‘The Fashion Designers’ Guide’ is that after speaking with many of the talented contributors who have helped to put this book together, it is apparent that the road to success is as varied as it is challenging. In an industry where some critics would have you believe that everyone is hard-nosed and self-centered this book hopes to offer an alternative perspective that shows the good will of many who are willing to share their time and wisdom in order to help others. I hope you’ll find this ‘guide’ as inspirational as the people who have helped to create it.
Mark Charles is a self-taught luxury womens boot designer from North West London who retails exclusively online. Mark’s love for design has taken him from the busy streets of London into some of the most remote parts of Italy and China as he set off on a journey to produce the most luxurious boots possible. In 2010 Mark founded ‘The Mark Charles Boot Company’ which was created to help channel his passion for luxury footwear in to a place where others could experience it. The Fashion Designer Guide eBook is Mark’s way of saying thank you to all the people who helped make it possible.
Give more, Expect more.
Chapter 1: Design Chapter 2: Production Chapter 3: Market Research & Branding Chapter 4: Marketing Chapter 5: PR Chapter 6: Managing Money Chapter 7: Employment Chapter 8: Launching your own label Chapter 9: Finding the right investor Chapter 10: Selling Chapter 11: Grow your business Chapter 12: Ecommerce Chapter 13: Social Media Chapter 14: Blogging Chapter 15: Photography Chapter 16: Styling / Make-up Final words Thank you Contributors Link Crush Directory Contact 6 - 19 20 - 23 24 - 28 29 - 34 35 - 41 42 - 46 47 - 53 54 - 56 57 - 58 59 - 64 65 - 67 68 - 72 73 - 76 77 - 81 82 - 88 89 - 95 96 97 98 - 104 105 - 110 111
Q. What is the basic design process from start to finish? A. We start with the structure of the collection, which we more or less adhere to, plus a few styles in a
few categories. This is usually based on sales from previous seasons. We do research all the time- that's what you should be doing even if you are not at work- be it on the way to work or in a night-club. You absorb a lot even if you don't realise it at the time, you might suddenly have it on a design you've just done. We then start designing and deciding which bestsellers from previous seasons to modify and/or include. Although a lot of people have a theme, we usually start without one and might make up or change the theme as we go along. The most important thing is the pictures on our board which gives an indication to where we want to head with the collection. The fabrics are loosely chosen and sample cuts will be ordered so we are able to see the garments in the actual fabric in the fitting. We visit the factories once a month for a week at a time after sending them the designs. We will then go and do the first fitting out of three. By the second fitting we will have chosen most of the fabrics and seen strike-offs, dyed pieces and specially made fabrics. By the third fitting we will do all the charts and apply all the styles in the different fabrics we want them in. We may add or cancel styles as we go along. Even as late as the presentation and selling we might add a style or apply a fabric in a different style if our sales team needs this. We will do a production fitting after the sales have ended and we have all the feed-back from our sales-teams. Magnus Gjoen, Designer/Product developer - Vivienne Westwood
A. 1. First you identify the basic need of the design brief. Then start deciding what the inspiration is
going to be based on the brand's identity. It is easy to design something you like, but at the end of the day, the customer needs to tell a story that evolves their specific history. It is important to know not only the customer, but the point of view of any brand you work with. 2. The next step for me is research into what is currently in the market, and how to differentiate the design from the competition. Always ask yourself, why would someone buy this?
Continued... 3. Once the research is initially complete, sketch, sketch, sketch. I go through many concepts before I ever reach a distilled design. I find I can over think an idea at first, but in time, the concept will reveal itself with unnecessary details stripped away. 4. After a process of refinement, designs are presented and a final proposition is picked. This is a period of give and take with your team, and usually the most vital in terms of selling your concept. It is important to be clear and direct about your message. This is also an important time to discuss costing. It is easy to design a product with no constraints, but realistically, a good designer can work within narrow parameters and still execute a good product. 5. Following a few rounds of design review, then the beginning of tech packs are underway. This is when you pick your materials, your final details and also the process of final blueprints. 6. Development process begins; it’s always key to keep open and honest communication with your developer and the factory. The end result will only be as good as how clear your communication is, and what compromises you are willing to make. A good designer is a flexible one. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer - Puma
A. I like to start every design job with research. I make sure I know what trends are on the catwalks
and the high street, If I can, I try and gain inspiration from trips abroad, if the job allows, and then spend time producing inspirational boards to evoke the looks and feeling. I also like to ponder over what I’m trying to achieve with the end product. There are also many things you should consider such as what’s the FOB/retail price point? Who is my target audience? Where will the product be sold? etc. There are many issues that will dictate the final product and should be considered before you even put pen to paper or mouse to computer. Once I have considered these issues and have a clear idea of what my product is - I design the product, usually straight onto the computer in illustrator. The next stage is to develop the product, which is another job in itself! Firstly a detailed specification pack is a must. I have found that the only way to ensure the factory sees your product vision, is to spend as much time as possible with the factory amending patterns, choosing materials and colours and developing outsoles etc. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
Link crushes: www.firstpullover.com - An informative footwear production blog dedicated to footwear professionals. www.headoverheelshistory.com - A Timeline History of fashions and shoes from antiquity to the 1980’s.
Q. How do you manage to produce brilliant collections season after season? A. It can be tough trying to come up with new details, new constructions, new materials, etc.
especially when every 2 months you have to present a new line of about 100 styles to buyers. Each line has to always be on trend but also sellable - finding the perfect match between the two isn't easy. Our challenge each season/delivery, is to keep the customer interested. You have to think about the end consumer all the time and come up with designs that will catch their eye, satisfy their personal gratification and also meet their practical needs. Basically you want them to buy another pump, another boot, another ballerina, even if they have a thousand of each already in their closet. As long as the product is made well and looks fresh then the customer will find a reason to buy another pair of shoes whether they need a new pair or not. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West
A. Coming up with the right story. For me the technical aspects of designing shoes are difficult enough, but actually translating your initial ideas into a marketable and commercial concept is something that comes with time and practice.
I find I have to re-examine my story every so often during the creation process, to see if objectively it pertains to the consumer and also is right for the brand as well. It is nice to design what you like, but if you rely on that, then you can become rigid and insular. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer - Puma
A. Finding the right mood for the season is always hard, whether you want to follow the trends or be
ahead of them. It's not enough to have the right idea, you need to have it at the right moment. The best way to know when the time is right is to do an extensive and continuous research in all possible fields, both in and outside of the fashion industry. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer – Luxury Fashion
A. This is a real challenge indeed, also because collections often rely on the designers’ mood so it’s
important for me to be kept informed about the novelties and what other brands do. Collecting images and magazine cuttings are just as essential as travelling, shopping and meeting with suppliers and technicians. To constantly sketch is another key to success, as it is a good way to keep things moving and evolving and to have your day-to-day ideas safe in a sketchbook. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design, Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley For me it’s not a question of struggling to come up with new ideas. I always have something brewing in the back of my mind. I think the hardest part is the quality control and selecting which ones will be the right direction to take. I think it’s important to always improve on your previous work - doing that is the hard part. Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
Q. When researching a new collection how do you manage to sift through all the clutter and focus on what's important? A. Each collection we work within a design brief, this helps you focus when conducting your research.
I tend to gather as much information as I can and select the strongest elements. In my case I pay attention to small details (a stitching technique, textures, colors, etc.) and mix these elements with what I´m feeling strong about on that particular season. Ana Borges, Footwear Designer - Jaeger London
A. …by understanding completely who your target customer is. Designing is like acting, you must get
into character, I do not design for myself - I design for the customer. They may be male or female, they may be young or old, they may be conservative or outrageous in taste. Until I know who the customer is and what they want to wear the research is a whole load of clutter. I sift through it by getting into character and asking myself, ‘would Ms. X like this?’ Jessica Good, Designer - shoedesign.co.uk
A. I simply do a selection of ideas, concepts and fabrics that catch my eye, I collect things that I find new, interesting, unique, unexpected, attractive, inspiring, in fact all what I like and that I sometimes may find by accident. Then I have to check if my selected ideas and fabrics can suit the seasonal theme and from there I may tweak, adapt some ideas to make them even more relevant to what I want to achieve. I fix myself a goal, i.e. a look and feel I want the collection to achieve and with this in mind I narrow down my selection of ideas to essentials for the season. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design, Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley Q. Some designers seem to have a vivid approach while others are more systematic - which style suits you best and why? A. I consider myself to have a quite vivid but systematic approach when it comes to design, it’s part of my personality and it helps me when dealing with my workload and creative process. Over the years I have developed a process that works for me and I follow it instinctively. In the design process there are different steps through which you have to go. It´s the same if you are more systematic or less, you will always have to go through each step of the process to be able to fulfill the design brief. The way you deal with it is more of a personal thing. Ana Borges, Footwear Designer - Jaeger London A. I tend to be quite spontaneous and unstructured when it comes to design, as it is my way to keep creative. However when it comes to development, I want to keep things tidy, accurate and more systematic. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design, Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley A. I think both have their advantages and disadvantages. But ultimately I think it is more successful
to ground your creativity in a framework or process, so that you don't lose track of the end goal, or get too caught up in your own head. I am by nature a very ‘daydreamy’ sort of individual and of course I...
Continued... love to sit and pontificate about the what ifs of open ended concepts and innovative ways to approach a job. There needs to be a pragmatic side that forces you to discipline the open ended creation. Otherwise you are no longer a designer, but simply an artist with no one to answer to. Designing within parameters is more boring to some, but I find it harder to do, and as a result makes you a better practitioner. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer - Puma
A. I'm a bit of both. I usually have a system; however a lot of factors can contribute to them going up
in smoke. (Fabrics arriving late, factories closing for holidays and wrong samples) Then it is important to try to steer back on track so you get the clothes in the show-room in time for the selling. Magnus Gjoen, Designer/Product developer - Vivienne Westwood
A. Both freedom and structure are necessary to me. At the beginning of the season, it is fundamental to me to be able to go anywhere I want both mentally and physically, even for a very brief period of time. After that, once I've understood where I want to go creatively, the more structured I manage to work, the better. It's no secret to anyone that in fashion everything always happens at the last minute, but - to me- the more systematically you manage to work, the more likely you'll be to have all tools ready when it comes to do the final rush. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer – Luxury Fashion Q. How do you create a trend forecast? A. Research should be done on a daily basis. Always keep your eyes open no matter where you are
or what you are doing. People watching is one of my favorite ways of doing research. Internet is a huge source of information for me too. I try and sign up to the most important store or blog newsletters so that I automatically get updated on what's being posted online. Visiting trade shows is really important too. Unfortunately, sometimes they are not in a convenient city or at a convenient time of year. If I can't make it to a show then I'll definitely look online at the trend forecasting sites such as WGSN and Shoesplanet to see the reports and photos they post from the shows. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West
A. That’s a really difficult question to answer – from a commercial point of view you can study
commercial catwalks but if you’re looking for top couture you need to look at everything that is going on. And this is not just current events. Fashion is relatively cyclical, but as you may realise, the current global mood has a huge effect. Also look to films, technologies, emerging economies, interiors, degree shows, and the age range of your target market. For example, the Oscars = glamour, we are now in a 70s style glamour trend that harks back to the innate sense that your mother is always glamorous – the glamorous ladies you saw when you were younger are now being re-emulated with a modern twist. Brights are in because we have just come...
Continued... out of the economical downturn from neutrals and summer spells freshness, brightness and new possibilities. Study what came before and predict what comes next. You won’t always get this right, but you can’t go far wrong! Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
A. I like to work directly onto the computer; I find it a cleaner clearer way of working. I have the
advantage of having worked this way for many years so it is second nature, but as you say, everyone has his or her own way of working. Finding the most time effective and comfortable way of working for you is the key. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
Q. Fashion is one of the most fast paced and pressurised industries around, can you tell me what part of your job you find the most challenging and why? A. The part of the job I find most challenging when preparing the designs for a show. There’s no place for mistakes, you have to deliver outstanding designs in a short period of time and they have to make a strong statement. Ana Borges, Footwear Designer - Jaeger London A. The most challenging part is keeping ahead and not falling into the trap of floating in the current.
It requires keeping a constant eye on the ball and constant work. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
A. …keeping your confidence when you are presented with opposing views. It’s hard sometimes to
separate yourself from your work. It’s human nature to identify with what we do. So, in a sense, our work is an extension of who we are and how we think. When we have to redo a design multiple times, it’s hard not to get burned out and give into the feelings of jadedness that many designers can feel when dealing with counterparts. One needs to be able to separate yourself and walk away from the project, and try to see what is being changed and why, and make the best of it without losing a sense of what it is you need to get across. Do not lose the purity of the brief, even when the direction appears to change. Roll with it and maintain your sense of humor. I feel my designs have improved as I become more objective in my assessments of my work, and the work of others. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer - Puma
Continued: Q. Fashion is one of the most fast paced and pressurised industries around...? A. Keeping ahead of the game and up with future trends is a constant challenge, but it’s important not to be a slave to the trends but develop your own sense of style and affiliate yourself with the brand/product you’re working on. Being aware of the market is important, but also being aware of your target audience is just as important. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
A. The most challenging part is probably the fact that things and decisions change all the time. It is
even more true for companies with catwalk shows, as it often happens you have to design and develop new products at the very last minute. Shows are very important events, they are presented to all customers, buyers and the media globally. You also see some of your products you have been working on for weeks or even months eventually getting dropped and they may need to be replaced by products to be designed within a very short time. There is so much inspiration, excitement and interest in so many different techniques and design ideas that some people can get carried away and want brand new products at the last minute because a new and better idea may have emerged very late in the design process. Sometimes passion leads rather than pragmatism, so you often face situations like these, but it is also what makes fashion so interesting and fascinating! Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design, Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley
A. Most challenging is remembering all the nitty gritty stuff - I write everything down in my calendar or
iPhone so I'm reminded of things. There are so many things that can go wrong from socks not being at a look-book to silk dresses having the wrong type of stitch! You have to be super-organized as you can't expect anyone else to be. Even if it's not technically your job, the finger is easily pointed at you if something goes wrong. Magnus Gjoen, Designer/Product developer - Vivienne Westwood
A. Pleasing press, buyers and yourself season after season, preferably increasingly, is the biggest challenge to me in fashion nowadays. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer - Luxury Fashion Q. Fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to break in to, how did you manage to get your foot in the door? A. I got into fashion completely by accident and not design. I was studying A level design and (I’ve still no idea why), I did kids shoes for my main project. I made my own lasts out of clay and nearly cut my own arms off sawing an old car tyre up with an electric band saw to make the soles! I had no idea what I wanted to do for a degree, it was one of the tutors that suggested I was rather good at making shoes already and did I know there were courses?
I ended up applying for De Montfort University and got in, without a foundation course. I was one of only two students in the whole country to manage getting onto a degree without a foundation course, but I did no end of night-school in order to get in – my portfolio was big and varied. I almost ended up
Continued... doing lingerie design instead as the degree included two weeks on each of the fashion courses they do there. But I stuck to my guns. I started applying for jobs in March of my final year. My fellow students thought I was a bit keen to be thinking about this so early but it paid off as I had two job offers by May. I chose Pentland Group – sports footwear was my passion and they were THE place in the UK to work designing that kind of footwear and they are still one of the best places for a graduate to work. Jessica Good, Designer - shoedesign.co.uk
A. I was born in to a family working in luxury leather goods so I already had this passion running
through my veins. I also liked the fast-paced and short-term process of this industry in comparison with the years-long process you can experience in product design for instance. It has not been easy to get in to this industry and to be accepted as an experienced individual. Hard work is the key to get the opportunity to work in fashion, as it remains a very competitive industry. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design, Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley
A. I’ve always loved fashion. My passion started from a young age with me riffling through my mum’s wardrobe and cutting up any piece of cloth I could find to make myself something fabulous to wear, making shoes out of cardboard, paper and cello tape, finished my outfit perfectly, to my mums despair!!!
Whilst at art college I was lucky enough to attend a talk from a student at De Montfort University who was on the footwear degree course. I was so inspired by her handmade shoes and fascinated by the concept of creating a 3D product that I could design and wear, from then on I was hooked. In my final year of my footwear degree, I wrote to several companies to ask for a work placement, luckily two responded, one offered me a position when I graduated and the other I worked for several years later, some of those relationships I made early on in my career remain firm today. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
A. The glamour of the 80's and early 90's and the supermodels! I was lucky that my graduate
collection at the Antwerp Royal Academy got noticed by the right people and I'll be thankful to them for putting their faith in me for as long as I’m able to design clothes. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer - Luxury Fashion
Q. What information should be included in a design spec and how detailed should it be? A. Design specs should be as detailed as possible, bearing in mind that your designs have to be
interpreted by someone else and quite often for more than one person. On my specs I include a 3/4 views of my design along with all the technical aspects, such as the lasts, construction, hardware, fabrications, materials and all the notes that would help to get my message across as accurately...
Continued... as possible. It´s important if you can brief your specs in person as it does make a difference. You should never expect your first prototypes to be perfect, you should consider it to be a starting point, they help you to see lines and proportions and there´s always work to be done from this stage. Ana Borges, Footwear Designer - Jaeger London
A. It all depends on the design and on who will be reading the spec. Our development center is
based in China therefore we have to be very detailed so as to get as close as possible to our design from the first prototype. The more information you provide the easier it is for the technicians to execute. Having said that, too much information can also create problems especially if the information is unnecessary. Put yourself in the shoes of who will be reading the spec and ask yourself what information they really need and what they should know without you having to tell them. Also always pay attention to how you word your spec. When working with China there is no need to use complicated, fancy words that they don't understand. Keep it simple and to the point and you should be able to have them achieve anything. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West
A. I tell myself that if I couldn’t make the shoe from the information given on the spec, then there isn’t
enough detail - simply put, a design spec is the instructions to the factory to tell them how to make the shoe. Number one is that the sketch proportions should be as precise as you can make them. I try to make an almost photographic copy of the proportions, no artistic style Manolo watercolour artworks, please. You need to construct a diagram, not an artwork. Be aware that if the factory uses a different language to you, avoid using long complex sentences – it is a pain for them to translate, on that note, a picture or diagram can tell a thousand words. I number everything on my specs and use as little written info as I can get away with. Find out from the factory how THEY like to work – ask for specs from them from other designers that they like and understand. One size does not fit all. They may like using pantones, or they may not even have a pantone book, you need to find out. Don’t forget to add precise measurements. Get the last if possible – some factories prefer to work with vac forms or designs sketched on a taped last as they might prefer to take the patterns for your design directly from this. Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
Continued...Q. How detailed should a design spec be and what information should be included? A. My basic footwear tech pack includes the following: A. Clean line art with detail call outs, which includes construction notes, views and measurements. B. All material call outs on upper. No detail is too small. Call out the stitching weight if need be. Leather release patterns, where to line and not to line. Attention to detail is key. C. In addition, any and all unusual constructions on the upper that might require a see through view of the interior of the shoe. Designing the inside is just as vital in terms of comfort. D. Drawing of upper on the last. It has always been my feeling that the most accurate way to get your pattern across is to draw directly on a tapped up last. E. Blueprints of tooling. As many views as possible, which include, top bottom, sides, front and heels views. Also cross-sections are key. The number depends on the complexity of form. Don't do too many in one area of similar form. Use common sense and cross section the areas that are most complex or far apart in terms of shape. F. Any and all cross sections and blue print call outs for secondary molded parts, which include eyelets, straps, molded heel or toe pieces. G. All colorways with correct Pantone information. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer - Puma
Q. What would you say is the most important thing to consider when designing a collection? A. You need to make sure the collection and its quality suit your company’s DNA and history, and that
it is consistent with the targeted consumer and retail price. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley
Q. How do you balance your desire to be creative with the practical requirements that make a design commercially viable?
Being aware of your commercial constrains can sometimes be creatively stifling. I try to not focus too much on these issues when designing and prefer to indulge my creativity first, before I bring my design back to commercially fit the brief. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
Continued: Q. How do you balance your desire to be creative with the practical requirements...? A. Over the years, I've learned that you don't necessarily need to design a Couture evening gown to feel satisfied creatively. Sometimes, a "detail" as small as a new collar shape on a men's shirt can give you incredible satisfaction. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer – Luxury Fashion
A. I consider if it is a collection I would like to wear or if I would be happy to find in stores. I imagine
myself or my friends buying these products and getting excited about them. I think every single wardrobe should contain commercial products, timeless classics and novelty items. I believe each collection should be designed with this in mind and find the right balance between the subtle, the commercial, the unexpected and the quirky. I don't think the commercial viability and creativity are mutually exclusive. For me, it is important to design things I would want to wear - so things that are fashion forward, but still flattering on the body. I think great design does both, it pushes the boundaries but manages to be something that people will want to own. Saloni Sethi, Designer/Design Director, Independent, High-end luxury
A. Complete and absolute novelty doesn’t work. The mind is conservative by nature; even Picasso’s
mind. Shock for shock-value has a very short life, too short to mean much. For the mind to find something compelling – and enduringly so - it must be an exquisite alchemy of: • Familiarity (Is it like me?) • Participation (Does it like me? Understand me? Can I trust it?) • Power (Given it’s actually different from me, in that difference, can it help me become more of me (and, therefore, expand my familiar)? For an object to be compelling it must be perceived and conceived of as accessible and mythic; powerful and understanding. Dr. Bob Deutsch, Cognitive Anthropologist - Branding & Marketing Expert
Q. How does CAD design compare to traditional drawing skills and is it important for a designer to have both? A. I think the two can be combined in a positive way. I myself use hand drawing to create all my designs, mainly because I feel more comfortable and I enjoy sketching, it seems to be the natural way to translate my ideas. I do use CAD occasionally, not to sketch but to present my work. As a designer I think it´s important to be able to sketch by hand, it makes your work more personal, I find CAD design to be more impersonal and cold, if this makes sense! But to be honest, it really doesn´t matter how you do it as long as you can translate your ideas. Ana Borges, Footwear Designer - Jaeger London
Continued: Q. How does CAD design compare to traditional drawing skills and is it...? A. I think nowadays it’s a plus to have both skills even though when designing dress shoes it’s not as necessary as when designing athletics or comfort shoes. Sketching will never be completely replaced by CADs as it's so much easier and quicker, plus all you need is pen and paper. CADs are great for portfolios, presentations and getting management excited about your designs before they are sampled. Sometimes it can be time consuming but it can save you time in the long run. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West
A. CAD is easy to learn, but without traditional drawing skills you will struggle. Proportion is key.
If you can’t sketch an in–proportion shoe, you risk getting some weird looking samples back from the factory. I tend to use CAD for most clients now, I think now only the luxury market and some fast fashion are still working with hand sketches. In the athletic footwear industry, CAD is a must, but ‘wannabees’ be warned, the design managers at Nike etc. are still more interested in strong hand rendering skills than anything else. CAD can be a bit smoke/lights and mirrors, making a mediocre design look a lot better than it really is. But having said all that, if you want to freelance you really need to do both and to a good standard. Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
A. I am on both sides of the fence. There is nothing in my mind that can replace the quick concept
sketch that a good drawing can convey. Being able to draw, and direct others with sketching is a vital tool. When there is no computer around, you must still be able to convey yourself clearly. The skills one has with 2D vector files or 3D files is the way most people do business and also send tech packs to overseas today. With CAD, projects can be reworked and redesigned with little effort as compared to redrawing and entire project by hand. I feel it’s vital to have a good balance of both skills and to embrace what each set brings to the table. A good designer is open to all tools. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer – Puma
A. It all depends on the requirements of the collection, in terms of amount of styles and the time you
have at your disposal. I personally think that manual sketches are the best at the beginning of the designing process, when it comes to defining the volumes and proportions. After that, for the flats and technical drawings, there's no doubt that CAD helps to save a lot of valuable time. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer – High-end luxury
Q. How important is it for a designer to understand how to produce a garment or footwear pattern? A. I would recommend any shoe designer to take at least a short pattern-cutting course. You will find
yourself in situations where the factory does not have a very good pattern cutter or you need to fix something. If you don’t understand pattern cutting, it can be a struggle. Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
A. Understanding footwear construction is invaluable. I gained most of my construction experience,
not only at university, but on the job working direct with the factory pattern cutters. It’s important to remember that just because a pattern physically functions, it’s not always production friendly. Once these basic principles are understood, you can have fun breaking all the rules which I’ve found has led to some of my best work. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
Q. What do you feel is the most rewarding part of the design process? A. Oddly, it’s not the finished product, it’s not getting it into store, it’s seeing someone wearing/using
something you’ve designed; not a friend, just a stranger on the street – THAT is amazing. I do, however, adore the conceptual process, letting your mind go mad and not putting limits on yourself; hand-sketching, can’t beat it! Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
Q. What are the best trade shows and events to attend for fabrics and materials? A. Lineapelle, Premier Vision, Micam, Trend Select...just to name a few. I also like to pay attention to
the trends that emerge in apparel, as those trends will later be translated into footwear. Remember shoes are accessories therefore usually have to compliment apparel. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West
Link crushes: www.design-seeds.com - Brilliant blog dedicated to exploring the wonderful world of colour. www.trendhunter.com - The largest community for Trends, Trend Spotting, Cool Hunting, and Innovation. www.refinery29.com - Emerging fashion trends covered by experts. www.fashionising.com/trends - The latest clothing and fashion trends from around the world. www.Fashion156.com - Online fashion magazine that provides a celebratory platform for emerging talent. www.britishfashioncouncil.com - Supporting and promoting British fashion designers.
Mark’s note: Check out http://goo.gl/b9pah for info on a unique range of short shoe making courses. Also see: Cordwainers world-renowned college for footware production: http://goo.gl/h3Z00 and of course The London College of Fashion: http://goo.gl/ToWJP for anything else fashion related.
Q. What is the best way to find a factory that is willing to produce small amounts of stock? A. It’s the question I get asked most of all. This is why designers who are already in the industry may
find it a bit easier if they decide to start their own brand. It’s about trust. If you already have a relationship with a manufacturer, then they will be more likely to take a risk. Truth be known, the factories that will do this now, you could count on your hands. Especially since the recent recession. Very few factories will take the risk and there are more new shoe businesses start-ups than ever before. Some shoe designers I know have set up their own workshops and hand make themselves. Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
Q. What are the various footwear production stages? A. First pullover is a great blog which explains how sneakers are made. There is also some stuff on
YouTube if you search for shoemaking. - Design - Pattern cutting - Clicking (cutting the uppers out) - Skiving (on leather uppers, the edges are thinned to ease stitching and avoid thick seams) - Closing (stitching the uppers) - Lasting (forming the uppers around the last) - Heat setting (the lasted uppers go through a heat setting machine to form the stiffeners to the shape of the last) - Sole/Heel attachment - Finishing (polish, remove glue marks. Add laces etc) - Inspection (shoes are checked at end of production line) - Packing (wrap in tissue, in shoe box and then in cartons ready for shipping) Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
A. 1. Tech Pack checkpoint: Once the factory gets the tech pack, the next step is for them to go over
the info and ask any questions they might have to the developer and designer. This is always a good time to make initial changes based on the feedback. 2. Next step is usually getting initial upper patterns back and revising shells. At this point, options for more cost effective alternatives might be suggested. Costing is always an issue with the constant struggle to meet margins and also meet the needs of rising costs in labor and materials.
Mark’s note: Check out http://goo.gl/X37O4 for shoe making videos.
Continued... 3. Travel: Book your ticket and head over to the development center or factory. This is where you need to bring all notes, material options, colors and anything that might help finesse the details of the shoe. 4. The next steps are pretty straight forward. Meet with your mold makers, revise blueprints. Meet with your pattern makers and make the changes as needed. But be realistic about the changes. If you are under time constraints, and you are completely redesigning the project because you suddenly changed your mind, expect the sample to not be as refined at the end of the day. Make changes prudently and stay consistent. 5. Review final samples with your team. Do updates with your marketing and development counterparts. Ask for peoples’ opinions, but also do not alter the design based on subjective opinions. Make changes based on the needs of the brief and the customer. Always keep your original design in mind and even at this stage be sure you are on track. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer – Puma
Q. How do you make sure all the relevant details are covered when creating a production spec? A. Before putting together a production spec, I think it's important to visit and understand a production
line. Since producing a shoe on a production line is very different from making a shoe in a sample room. So many aspects of the production line can affect the outcome of your designs. Therefore, foreseeing what could potentially be a problem will save you time and money. If you already know that a detail you are putting into your spec may be a problem on the production line then either find a solution for it or change your design/spec. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West
A. If you follow through with a tech pack that has all the details I listed in (Design Spec.), then you
should be fine. Always measure twice, work in proportion, work with the last shape and do all your drawings based on that. Look at older blueprints that share the same last shape and work your drawings over those if need be to be consistent. The cad guys at the factory are always going to revise your work and drawings based on best practices anyway. Make less work for them and that way you know what you get will be closest to reality. Also look at what you have before it is sent out and ask yourself would I be able to make the shoe if I was given this info. Ask your peers if the drawings are clear and accurate. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer – Puma
Mark’s note: www.linkedin.com is a brilliant place to find production factories as well as other businesses. Also, check out: www.toplinked.com/toplinked.aspx if you want to expand your Linkedin network quickly. (It’s not a good idea to add people randomly but ‘Open Networkers’ are normally happy to receive requests.)
Q. How can you ensure that the production quality remains high and consistent when working with factories abroad? A. Communication, communication, communication ...and building of relationships is key. You have to
put yourself in the mindset of the people working in the development centers and factory. Too many designers have unrealistic expectations when it comes to their designs. No one is a mind reader. Be proactive. Give all your effort to explain, re- explain and always keep your cool. Nothing ruins your rep and your priority on the project list more than being impatient or emotional when the sample is not looking like you expect. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer – Puma
Q. What advice would you give to a designer who is not able to visit the factory in person? A. Honestly, if you are producing your own collection and do not have someone on the other side as
a contact person whom you trust, save your money and buy a ticket. Nothing replaces the ability to oversee the project at hand. However, if you simply do not have the time or budget for that, Skype is a lifesaver. Ask them to have a person there with access to Skype or any other similar type programs and give you end of the day updates and also show you the samples. Video conferencing is a standard part of designing today. Take full advantage of it. Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer – Puma
Q. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you when working with a factory and how did you fix the problem? A. As an employee, it wasn’t my responsibility to fix production problems as a freelance designer, but
I’ve seen some nightmares. Such as the entire delivery of sneakers that arrived in our warehouse as just uppers, no outsoles attached! Followed by another delivery that had sneakers but no eyelets. Always be there or have someone there to check when your production is about to leave is the lesson learned there. Also if you are making shoes with wooden soles, it’s a good idea to ensure that the wood has been properly seasoned, because it can go mouldy in the box if it hasn’t been! Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
Market Research & Branding
Q. Market research is an area that many new business struggle with - what advice can you offer?
Identify who you want your customer to be and research what their lifestyle is. Based on what they do, where they go, what brands they are buying, where they are shopping, etc. you will be able to design specifically for that customer. It’s also always good to talk to sales reps, buyers and even organise focus groups as it will give you extra information that you won't be able to find anywhere else. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West If you are writing a business plan, then the info you need is not widely available. You generally need to pay for the data, it isn’t free. Verdict is the retail research company which deals with the UK market most effectively. Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk People are not what media makes them out to be. People are poised and unsettled, mysterious and mundane, idealistic and street-operators, marooned and moored, tough and tender. But they are always artful and embody many registers. Respect people-as-people, not just as consumers. Forget about marketing and, instead, think about life. Then your creations will be greeted by a great market. Dr. Bob Deutsch, Cognitive Anthropologist – Branding & Marketing Expert
Q. What exactly is a ‘brand’ and why is it so important? A. "Brand is the 'f' word of marketing. People swear by it, no one quite understands its significance
and everybody would like to think they do it more often than they do" - Mark di Soma, Audacity Group To me, a brand is the recognisable constant of the design; the living breathing lifestyle of the product. Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
A. Brand is not what most marketers think it is. Brand is not name recognition plus positive attributes.
That’s commodity. Brand obtains only when a person metaphorically merges his/her story about who they are with their story of who you - the product - is. This merging is an emotional-subjective process, not a logical-objective one. Apple, for example, is a great brand - a brand, in part, based on beauty.
Continued... When you have brand, a consumer can totally transform your product into a personally meaningful narrative. Dr. Bob Deutsch, Cognitive Anthropologist – Branding & Marketing Expert
Q. What are the key ingredients of creating a successful brand and how is it used to increase sales? A. A brand has to have a crystal clear identity as to the market it serves, in terms of aesthetics,
mission, tone of voice, practice, pricing, partnerships - anything and everything. If the positioning of a brand is not obvious, it cannot translate to consumers. This is especially important in an age when consumers are constantly being bombarded and have to quickly dissect information. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR There are many ingredients in creating a successful brand, but in my opinion - it’s the experience it offers and the impression it leaves that adds value and therefore increases sales. Jristian Limsico, Art Director, Tommy Hilfiger
Q. How can a new designer compete with well-established competitors with massive budgets and seemingly endless resources? A. Having a product that stands on its own, a strong brand, connecting with consumers, focusing on
experience and embracing the utlisation of new tools for interaction and exposure. A new product has to stand out or be at least as good as competitors both new and established. It has to be well designed, well finished and well packaged, and that goes across any industry from automobiles, electronics, beauty, etc. Take media for example; there are heaps of well-established magazines that are recognised globally and have household name status. New publications are sprouting up all the time. What can a new publication do to get noticed? It would have to be beautifully designed, have intriguing and relevant content and be sold at a fair price. If a start-up gets the formula right, it can certainly compete. The experience is really important as well, and is a key aspect of customer service. Every interaction between a brand and a consumer should be a positive experience from receiving an email, a telephone call or a direct message on Twitter. Every encounter should enhance the experience and serve to forge a tighter bond between the brand and consumer. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
Q. How do you ensure that your company has a strong brand identity with real substance?...I suppose what I’m asking is what gives a brand the ‘X-factor’? A. The designers background story is pretty significant, who they trained under, what college they
graduated from, their style history. The same is relevant to a brands history too, and those brands with a great heritage are usually extremely successful. Always showing their designs in a cool, new way with the highest quality design is imperative, a clear unflinching vision, great use of fabrics and creating desirable silhouettes. The designs seen to be worn on cool style setters also helps to create a brand/designers profile and keeps the buzz surrounding them at a high. Miranda Almond, Fashion Editor, Vogue
A. By communicating what is true to the company. Drawing inspiration from the heritage of the brand
and delivering something authentic, as well as fresh and unexpected. Jristian Limsico, Art Director, Tommy Hilfiger
A. This is something we’ve been looking at a lot recently as we’ve established a new direction and
branding for the company, there’s a lot of competition out there from fantastic brands so it is hard for you to differentiate yourself and stand out. You have to have that ‘eureka’ moment when you work out your brand’s own individual place and message in the market and realise that it’s totally relevant – you need to really believe in what you’re trying to say and stay true to that. We worked hard on listening to our customers and finding out what was missing in the fashion retail sector, and came up with our new direction of Everyday Luxury - for the woman who has far too little time but loves fashion and wants to fit amazing pieces into her real life. From there everything fell into place really, from the street-style photography we shoot, to the fashion styling on the site, to the way we designed the product pages and navigation. Ruth Cozens, Art Director - my-wardrobe.com
A. A credible story or heritage, cohesive, intelligent branding, a clear business strategy and vision,
a realistic idea of who your customer is and a handful of core values that do not waver. Laura Weir, Fashion Editor, Drapers
A. It’s the full package: a good name (some designers are born lucky), smart graphic design that
communicates if a brand is luxury, mid-market or affordable, brand personality – translated through copy across everything from website to swing tags to a Facebook fan page, and an identifiable and distinctive story behind it. A brand must have clarity across every aspect of the company as to what makes it different from its competitors and why consumers should pay attention to it, and pay for it. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
Continued: Q. How do you ensure that your company has a strong brand identity with real
A. We worked as a team to define what our brand stood for, what our unique selling points were and
what we were trying to achieve. We built a brand document, which defined what we were about, we set rules about our brand and how we portrayed it and what messages we wanted to get across to the customers. We had a 3 year strategy that the entire company helped put together and developed a “Steering Wheel” around the four headings of Customer, Finance, Operations and People. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com
Q. What are the fundamental ingredients that separate successful designers from the many others who do not make? A. Genuine talent, imagination and skill. Those two factors are easy to spot from a mile off. The best
in the business from McQueen to Galliano have technical skill and creative talent in spades. The best designers have imagination and a true, no-holds-bar belief in their creative calling and will not stop until they realise the ambition. Laura Weir, Fashion Editor, Drapers
A. Absolute determination, A clear unflinching vision, A hard work ethic, the ability to work with other
creatives to help the brand grow, stylists, set designers, photographers etc. ...Always striving to move forward and not being afraid of experimentation. Miranda Almond, Fashion Editor - Vogue
Link crushes: www.drapersonline.com - Fashion jobs, news and the latest fashion trends, international catwalk coverage. www.wwd.com - Breaking news, comprehensive business coverage and trends - fashion, beauty and retail. www.retailminded.com - Support retailers, wholesalers, boutiques, independent businesses. www.stylesight.com - Trend forecasting service and technology tool provider. www.internetretailing.net - Internet Retailing analysis, insight and stimulus for Europe’s multichannel retailers.
Q. How do you put a Marketing Plan together and what should it include? A. A marketing plan should include your objective - what do you want to achieve:
- Who - who is your audience for that objective? - How - how can you get there? - this is usually a mix of tactics to achieve this and some commercial analysis on how this is possible via media investment, etc. - Measurement - what equals success? Sales? Brand awareness? Jennifer Roebuck, Director of Ecommerce & Digital Marketing - frenchconnection.com
A. A giant spreadsheet. All the weeks and months across the top and ALL the activity that is customer
facing for the business plugged into it. Broken down into categories. Product launches, key events on the calendar, what is happening that week, digital marketing activity, above the line activity, promotions and last year’s history. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com
Q. What advice would you give to a designer who is thinking about launching a fashion label? A. In fashion it is a lot about people you know and of course if you have worked in the industry for
someone else before you should always be thinking about how some of these people may be able to help you in the future. Make connections and always think about the future. You need to know your market and exactly what they want - not what you want for them. Depending on what type of clothing-range you are starting you always need to look at your potential competitors and finding out as much as possible about them. Price is your first indication of your competitors then of course the style/fabrics/finishings. Magnus Gjoen, Designer/Product developer - Vivienne Westwood
A. A new designer needs to find out if there is a gap in the market for the new product. Research can
be done by conducting surveys, talking to people, scouring the Internet, visiting stores to investigate price points and competition, and new designers would benefit greatly from developing a business plan. A business plan will help put a new business into perspective as far as cash flows, staffing, competitors, short and long term goals, manufacturing, website structuring and on and on. Once a new designer has decided to move forward on a new product, they should secure intellectual property by buying every website domain iteration and secure coinciding social media: Twitter account and Facebook fan page names for instance. Courtney Blackman, Owner/Managing Dir – Forward PR
Mark’s note: April Dunford from Rocket Watcher has created a brilliant marketing framework - well worth the read: http://www.rocketwatcher.com/blog/2011/01/a-startup-marketing-framework-version-2.html
Continued: Q. What advice would you give to a designer who is thinking about launching...?
A. The product needs to be great, good is not good enough. You do not need much if any marketing
budget. Great product sells itself. You will make mistakes in the first few years, so plan to only get 60% right. You will never get 100% right, although obviously you will aim to get 100% right. If you have a plan, make sure you plan a downside for your accountant! Anything from 25% to 50% it is so much better to under promise and over deliver. Look at competitors and make comparisons. Every business on the planet has taken ideas from somewhere else. Stick to your USP’s and focus on customer, customer, customer Get help and support from people that you trust who have experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and use other people’s skills. You cannot possibly be great at everything. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com
Q. What is a ‘Unique Selling Point’ (USP) and how can this be used to drive sales? A. A USP is the difference that sets your product and service apart from your competitors and makes
you unforgettable. Jristian Limsico, Art Director, Tommy Hilfiger
A. If you can’t clearly and succinctly define what makes your product and service relevant then you
can’t promote it effectively. Having a compelling USP is the first critical step to building a marketing campaign. Shannon Edwards, Director – ShopStyle.com
A. A USP is what differentiates a product or service from the rest. It can be anything from special
packaging to same-day delivery to off-coloured stitching on each garment, and should always augment the product and the customer’s experience. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
A. What makes your product different from your competitors, ideally you will have at least one. These
should be at the core of your business and should drive everything you do. Try not to sway from this, although they may change over time as the business evolves. (Easyjet, Liberty, Donna Karan, Coca Cola, Innocent Drinks) good examples of those that have stuck to what they set out to do. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com
Q. With so many new and exciting marketing channels popping up how do you decide which is best for your business? A. We try to gather as much information as possible about each channel and decide based on what
the expected commercial impact is and brand impact. It is a hard decision and we do not always make the right choices. We are also interested in innovation and trying new things - so we are not afraid to test something. Jennifer Roebuck, Dir of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
Q. How do you develop a clear and consistent message across all marketing platforms? A. The most important thing is to edit - make sure that whatever you are presenting, whether it’s your
website, a look book, or a press release that it all represent you and your vision. In doing this, you have to be clear about your vision for your brand. It could be helpful to come up with a mission statement for the brand as a whole, and put together some images to go with your mission statement. It’s always good to have another pair of eyes look at your work to see if the message you want to convey is coming through. Saloni Sethi, Designer/Design Director, Independent, High-end luxury
A. We work together. We have an agreed tone of voice, brand positioning and imagery. Once that is
in place, we all ensure our communications are consistent when we are launching a new season and throughout the season. As long as they are visually and tonally consistent, that will deliver a clear and concise message. Less is more...and in fashion the image often speaks louder than words. Jennifer Roebuck, Director of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
Q. What is the key to producing good quality content that will not only engage but also add value in the eyes of the target audience? A. Two things. One; content must be honest. The content that you produce must come from a good
place, a pure of heart place, a genuine place of interest and be unbiased. Sycophantic reporting – especially in my industry of fashion - get’s no writer anywhere. By trying to be everyone’s friend and not engaging in honest reporting, the journalist won’t gain the industry’s respect and the designer they are writing about, in turn will not become better at their craft. Two; content must be useful. Know your customer or audience inside out, stalk them really hard. Get inside their brain and work out what will make them smile/tick/feel a flurry in their stomach. The right information can help people do better business or help people feel better about themselves - or both. Laura Weir, Fashion Editor - Drapers
Continued... What is the key to producing good quality content that will not only engage but also?
A. The key is understanding what you are about in the sense of its message. Are you there to visually
inspire? Are you there to lead a movement? What is it it's purpose? Good quality content that engages and adds value has a purpose. With a purpose you can create a reader who not only becomes a subscriber, but becomes an advocate. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com
A. I see so much that bores me and it makes me feel anti certain brands. So they need to address
this and be aware of it - as an ill-advised activity can be seriously damaging. Quality control everything you do and think how your audience will perceive it. If in your mind there is even the slightest doubt get a 2nd, 3rd and 10th opinion. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
A. Any good designer will tell you that in order to create good quality creative that engages and adds
value you need a strong understanding of who you’re talking to. Really knowing your target audience is the only way to make an impact. Jristian Limsico, Art Director, Tommy Hilfiger
A. People are interested in transparency, quality and an emotional connection. If a designer can
provide all those things via content development, they will do well. It is a little bit of a stretch to say that content will add real value to someone's life. However, sometimes simply providing the basic product information a consumer needs can help provide that value by saving time and fulfilling expectations. Jennifer Roebuck, Director of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
A. Good quality content needs to be ‘real’ You shouldn’t be afraid to look at your own consumption
patterns – what interests you? Is the content you are producing something that you find exciting? Would your friends and your family find it exciting? Not enough marketers use their own gut to evaluate their work. Shannon Edwards, Director, ShopStyle, Europe
A. Keep the customer at the core of your thinking, what is it they would like to see. They may not
know it yet. Be careful of listening to customers who don’t know what they can’t see coming. You will have to be very thorough about articulating what it is you are doing. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com
Q. What marketing techniques would you recommend for a designer trying to launch a brand? A. Aside from the traditional Ecommerce marketing channels ( search, affiliate marketing, social
media and email ) development of video content and interactive experiences are the most compelling things you can do within the digital space. Mobile is also gaining momentum. Jennifer Roebuck, Director of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
Q. It seems logical to focus on marketing activities that can be measured, but this is easier said than done. What can designers do to ensure that their marketing efforts are as productive as possible? A. Have a consistent message, keep it simple and know who and where you want to be. If you stay
focused on where you want your message to be and what you have to do to get it there, you will not end up chasing many different communication channels that may not be right for your brand or offering. Measurement is important and you should try to understand how you are going to learn from your efforts before you start. Jennifer Roebuck, Director of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
A. A good Finance Director will not let you spend money unless you can calculate a return on
investment. This is good business practice but, can stifle creativity. Balance off what you can make a return on, leaving some budget up your sleeve to focus on what you really think will make a difference. Do not spread it wide and shallow. Often the simplest things are the best. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com
Link crushes: www.sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog - Seth riffs on marketing, respect and the ways ideas spread. www.rocketwatcher.com - A marketing blog that provides practical advice and tools for product marketers. www.fashionablymarketing.me - Brilliant blog about retail and digital media.
Q. ‘PR’ is a massive force within the fashion industry but what exactly is ‘PR’ and how can it be beneficial to new designers? A. PR can mean public relations, press relations…and it seems as though it’s constantly changing.
In the briefest of terms, it is getting a brand out there and recognised by target press, and therefore the brand’s target consumer base. It is third party, unpaid (non-advertisement) endorsement, which is very powerful. It is securing editorial coverage in relevant magazines, newspapers and supplements, television, radio, digital magazines, blogs and partnering with celebrities in a mutual relationship. New designers are in a fortunate position where they can spearhead their own PR campaigns by harnessing social media and even writing their own blogs. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
Q. What should a PR plan include? A. A PR plan should include program goals, followed by measurable objectives and strategies that
when implemented, will meet those goals and objectives. Within each strategy, clearly defined action steps, in the form of tactics and tasks, provide the blueprint for execution. Benchmarking current numbers and tracking growth is another key component. For a designer to manage these activities herself, it’s important to drill the PR plan down to daily action items. This might include setting aside two hours each day to send out pitches to media, connect with followers on Twitter and respond to email. Crosby Noricks, Founder & Editor, PR Couture
Q. How can a designer develop a ‘PR friendly’ brand that the press will want to talk about? A. The first step is that the branding needs to be strong and memorable and the PR campaign needs
to be well thought out. It should be easy to draft a PR strategy based on timings outlined in the business plan. Launching a new collection each season is an accomplishment indeed, but it’s not news. Is there a unique story as to how the label came to being? Has the designer’s brand been worn by a celebrity? Has a well-known store just taken the brand on? Is the designer collaborating with another designer, illustrator or store? Has the designer won an award? Is the brand launching an accessories line…and to iterate, a brand doesn’t want to announce all news at once. It should be spaced out accordingly, so that the media are constantly being fed information and being reacquainted with the brand. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
Q. What is the best way for a designer to contact the media to introduce their brand? A. I would look at all the PR agencies out there and find one that you feel your brand identifies with
and work with them as they will have access to all the most important people you need to get your brand information to. They are also good at creating a buzz about your brand before it is made public. I think doing a little press launch is good too, a themed location/room that enhances your brand’s identity with the product clearly displayed and well edited, and also very important to have the launch in a central location so that it is easily accessible. Miranda Almond, Fashion Editor, Vogue
Q. How can a designer nurture a good relationship with the press? A. A young designer should be as accommodating and open as possible with the press. It also helps
to keep the press focus on the brand instead of on you as a designer. Jennifer Roebuck, Director of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
A. A designer needs to learn which media suits their brand, focus on that media, meet the key
contacts, foster and maintain the relationship and keep them perpetually informed on what’s happening with the brand. Journalists rely on information for content and are always keen to have exclusivity on a story. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
Q. Where can you find information on fashion PR and how it works? A. Experiencing fashion PR firsthand is the best way to grasp and comprehend how it works. Of
course there are books on fashion PR, websites dedicated to it and university courses, but doing work experience or an internship in fashion PR is the most invaluable method to garner information and really understand how it works. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
A. I would recommend a morning cocktail of PR Couture, Mashable, Fashionista, The Business of
Fashion, Signature9, WWD, and Fashionably Marketing. Setting up a Google alert for “Fashion PR” is another smart move. Crosby Noricks, Founder & Editor, PR Couture
Q. Not all Look books are created equal – what advice can you give for creating the ‘perfect’ book that gets the attention it deserves? A. Look books must above all reflect the brand’s DNA, so that their look and feel can proudly
represent the company. I like polished, sleek and simple look books that enhance the products rather than demonstrate too much work or technique and give too much information. Look books must make people dream and want to find out more about the collections and not feed them with too much impersonal information. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design Leather Goods and Accessories – Temperley
A. A look book is not about the brand or the designer; it is all about the target audience. Pin-pointing
what will appeal to your target customer and this should set the tone. Compliment this with good photography and inspirational imagery and finish by presenting the product in a clear and concise manner. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
A. A look book should be well planned - and it should be consistent, with a strong theme. That being
said, it is important that the clothes don't get lost, and that they remain the focus of the picture. The book should also focus on the strongest looks - quality over quantity. Saloni Sethi, Designer/Design Director, Independent, High-end luxury
Q. How do you produce a press kit that will really stands out and what should it include? A. You should firstly concentrate on producing a set of pictures that clearly illustrate your designs.
Choose a good photographer, well respected stylist, hair and make-up and model who will together as a team help to bring something to the photos and create something that is cool, directional, eye catching, unfussy and appealing. It is worth spending time and money on this as you really want to make a lasting first impression and something that will catch editors attention. There are so many press releases sent out every day and you really want to produce something that will stand out from the crowd. As well as the photos the design and layout should be clear to read, with cool graphics, clean and easy to read. You don’t need paragraphs of text as the photos should speak the loudest message. Miranda Almond, Fashion Editor, Vogue
A. A strong press kit comes from having a strong look book and a strong vision. It’s best to avoid
anything too gimmicky in your press kit - just keep it classic with some information about the brand, a look book, business card, and any previous press exposure. Saloni Sethi, Designer/Design Director, Independent, High-end luxury
A. The traditional folder press kit is tired. Create a virtual press kit with all the standard information
(press release, bios, fact sheet, stockists, look book), but go a step further with video interviews, a fun atmospheric fashion video, and ensure that your photography and /or look book can be easily shared through to social channels. Provide logos and images at both low and hi-res. If you do want to send something out, consider a creative presentation and always ask an editor first if she is open to receiving a kit. Crosby Noricks, Founder & Editor, PR Couture
A. Have a complete story. It sounds simple but start from scratch and always answer the basic who,
what, why where and when questions that any journalist will ask. If you have this information and you make it sexy by adding a sprinkle of human interest there or a genuine drop of insight here into who is behind the brand, you’re on to a winner. What makes your brand interesting? If you can’t answer that you’re in the wrong game. People love a bit of provenance, nostalgia – find out the heritage and story behind your product and tell that story. Finally make sure your branding is cohesive, never be over familiar or too bossy on the phone and don’t be sloppy. Look out for grammatical errors in emails, always have contact details on the end of press releases and never forget to pay attention to a journalist’s deadline. Get the basics right and the rest will follow. Laura Weir, Fashion Editor, Drapers
A. A press kit is a designer’s tool kit and it is formulaic, but it’s in a designer’s best interest to make it
stand out. A designer needs a great team to help produce the kit (photographer, stylist, model, hair and makeup artists, graphic designer, printer, copywriter) and it should include a look book, press release, designer biography and who to contact for imagery or samples. Following that, a designer should have exceptional imagery. Imagery is what conveys your brand before a buyer or editor has had a chance to see it. It is beneficial to have both modelled images and cut-outs (product shots) in high and low-resolution formats and they should be digitally labelled accordingly with brand name, garment name or style number and colour. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
Q. How do you go about writing a press release that grabs attention and what information should be included? A. A catchy title and information-packed first paragraph are key, but the press release itself cannot be
the firecracker that dazzles the media. Instead, paste your press release at the bottom of an email and consider it more like a resource document, rather than the pitch itself. Be sure to include contact information as well as the basic who, what, when, where and how. A range of pricing is helpful as well. Crosby Noricks, Founder & Editor, PR Couture
Q. What is the best way to submit a product sample to a publication and who is responsible for returning it to the designer? A. The best way is to send it to the publication in mind in the brand’s own packaging so it is easily
identifiable, wrapped up well in tissue paper with clear documentation. This shows you care about the product so the publication will too. The publication is responsible for returning the product and it should come back in the same manner as you sent it. Miranda Almond, Fashion Editor, Vogue
Q. How do you create a media database and what is the best way to introduce yourself or your brand? A. One of the key benefits to working directly with a PR agency or publicist is access to their media
contacts. A PR’s media contacts and relationships are the lifeblood of their success and you are paying, in part, for those relationships. However, there are several paid services that provide lists of media that can be helpful. The DIY route is a combination of sleuthing, calling up and asking, and working through the contact links of blogs to create your own list. Again, a PR agency can really assist with the proper strategy with various media (they aren’t all the same!), but generally speaking, a simple email that is short and to the point works best. Demonstrate quickly and clearly why your line is fit for the publication, provide links for more information and ask to be considered for any upcoming stories. Crosby Noricks, Founder & Editor, PR Couture
Q. What are the benefits of hiring a PR company and what can designers do to get the most out of this relationship? A. A good fashion PR agency is proactively seeking out opportunities for you and your brand and
making things happen. PR agencies can assist with brand development, photography, web presence, media relations, event management and strategic planning. Like any professional relationship, a relationship with a PR agency works best when there is mutual respect and communication. You can help your agency be more successful by moving quickly on media opportunities, providing them the assets they need and implementing their recommendations. Be sure to require tracking reports and don’t be afraid to interview multiple agencies (and their current and past clients) until you find the right fit. Crosby Noricks, Founder & Editor, PR Couture
Q. Designers can be victims of their own success so how do you avoid over-exposure or negative PR? A. Luckily the fashion industry is not riddled with massive quantities of negative PR, but it can
happen. It’s up to the individual designer and situation. Sometimes it will be best to counteract it; sometimes it will be best to do nothing. It really depends. As for over-exposure, which can lead to overselling, it’s important to say no every now and then. Designers should not loan their samples out or give access to imagery to every magazine editor or stylist who requests. A designer needs to stay on track and on-brand, only working with the outlets that will most benefit the brand. Courtney Blackman, Owner/MD – Forward PR
Q. How can social media be used to strengthen a PR campaign? A. Social media is a great way to extend your PR campaign. Promoting recent press coverage
through social channels is key. Information and content from your social media community can also be used in your PR outreach as testimonials, or as crowd-sourced outfit shots of customers wearing your designs. Crosby Noricks, Founder & Editor, PR Couture
Q. If there were one piece of advice that you would give to a new designer what would it be? A. Have an extremely clear vision of the kind of woman/man you want to appeal to/dress. Be sure of
your product 100% as this will translate to the product once it hits the public. Research, research, research, mood boards and a wide range of influences are extremely important to know you have got it right. Miranda Almond, Fashion Editor, Vogue
Link crushes: www.thelookbook.com - The Definitive Directory for the Fashion Industry. www.prcouture.com - A good place to find out about fashion PR, fashion publicity and fashion PR agencies.
Q. What is the most effective way to set up your business in order to maximise profits and facilitate growth? A. Do your research - is there demand for your product /service?
Grow slowly. One of the biggest reasons businesses fails is money! Where possible, outsource; until you are sure it will be more cost effective to hire staff. Never compete on price- someone will always undercut you. Find a niche, and stick to it! Domenica di Lieto, Commercial Director/owner – ShineMarketing.com
A. We work with clients who only sell on line. We work with other clients who only have a bricks and
mortar retail presence. However most of our clients make the majority of their sales through wholesale. I suggest you start by selling to your friends and family. They will be your sternest critics and your best advocates. Make sure you ask them to fill out a wearer trial assessment so you can get their feedback on your product for you to improve it when you take it to market. In terms of overheads you should avoid spending money unless you really have to. Most start-ups can get services and goods for free. For example GBBO and Google offer free website design and hosting. Use your network from college or previous jobs to try and persuade photographers, models, pattern cutters and machinists to help for free. It’s surprising what people are happy to do to help. Also before spending money ask yourself “is this going to improve my business?” if the answer isn’t a resounding yes then try and avoid spending the money. Finally – make sure you have enough money in the bank to pay the rent and all living expenses for at least a year. This is an expensive industry to start in and you won’t be able to draw a salary for at least a year. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
Q. What are the most important things to consider when creating a budget? A. The main thing is that however much you think it will cost… its much much more than that, and it
will take a couple of years (at least!) to get established enough to start selling to the right amount of stores that the business might pay for itself. I don’t have enough time to give a breakdown of all the things that cost money, but (for example) just the shipping costs for me sending samples to photo shoot’s and buyers this last month was into the thousands (but it is a busy period and they were important shoots, usually having to send next day to the US) Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Mark’s note: Creating a budget in Excel is probably one of the best ways to manage your sales and other important informaiton about your business. See Lynda.com for brilliant easy to follow tutorials if you’re not too familiar with Excel: http://www.lynda.com/Excel-2010-tutorials/essential-training/61219-2.html
Q. Balancing the books is an area many creative people seem to struggle with – what advice can you offer? A.
• When budgeting sales and cash flow, be conservative. Things never go according to plan. • Always have a contingency budget set by for when things happen that are beyond yourcontrol. • Review and amend your budgets regularly. • Do a monthly P and L to see if you are on track. Do you need more sales or do you need to cut costs? Domenica di Lieto, Commercial Director/owner – ShineMarketing.com
A. In terms of creating budgets, the first rule is expect to spend more than you budget and sell less
than you budget. That way you’ll always be pleasantly surprised. Also consider the budget when deciding which new direction to take your business. It may be a great idea to expand the line to include another product category, but your existing sales need to support the additional development costs you will have until the new category becomes successful. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
Q. A lack of cash and planning can kill a business dead in its tracks, so how do you make sure you get paid on time? A. Most designers aren’t trained in finance or management. Unfortunately they believe that the
money will work itself out and want nothing to do with budgets and cash-flow. If you want to be a successful independent designer you will need to be CFO (finance), CEO (management), CIO (IT), COO (operations) and CMO (marketing) all as well as Creative Director rolled into one! If any of these areas are neglected, you are less likely to succeed. Everyone is paid late. It’s what you do to avoid it and how you cope with it when it happens that makes you successful. You should certainly demand deposits (at least 20%) from all your clients. If they don’t want to pay you a deposit then you should ask yourself if you can afford to buy the stock yourself. If you can’t then you should turn down the order regardless of who it’s for. You should also try to get payment in advance for the balance, but that is much harder. I would certainly insist on PIA from countries outside Western Europe and US. Also Italians will expect to get 90-day terms regardless of the terms you agree. Unless you can afford these terms then put your sales efforts into another market. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
Continued: Q. A lack of cash can kill a business dead in its tracks, so how do you...?
• Always get your paperwork in order. When embarking on work get a signed document before starting work. • Clearly list the payment terms - preferably taking a deposit. • Always send bills as soon as work is completed – do not wait until month end. • Call up and confirm that the bill has been received. • Chase late payment as soon as the bill is due. • Have watertight Ts and Cs concerning payment.
Domenica di Lieto, Commercial Director/owner – ShineMarketing.com I think a lot of pestering normally gets people to pay up and it’s best to try every avenue before resorting to debt collection agencies or court. There’s a lot of help out there if you need to take things to the next level, even if the shop is abroad. Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Q. Balancing the books is an area many creative people seem to struggle with – what advice can you offer? A.
• Having your finances in order is vital. Invest in software like Sage or QuickBooks so you can extract information easily and you can address problems head on. • When possible, outsource your bookkeeping so you can concentrate on what you are good at. Make sure your bookkeeper gives you a monthly P and L and an up to date debtor and creditor ledger. • Chase your bills! Make sure you keep on top of bills owed to you. Those who shout loudest get paid! • Keep on top of bills especially to Inland Revenue. Bills, if left to pile up, become unmanageable. If you can’t pay some bills negotiate a payment plan rather than ignore the letters! Domenica di Lieto, Commercial Director/owner – ShineMarketing.com
Q. What is the best accounting software for a small business? A. I love Sage and it’s one of the best investments I made when I started up the business. I also use
software called CreditPal which extracts my Sage data and gives me reports so I can track my business performance. Domenica di Lieto, Commercial Director/owner – ShineMarketing.com
Q. What are the biggest mistakes to avoid when trying to manage your cash-flow? A.
• Don’t assume everyone will pay you on time - take into account how long it may take you to get paid – be realistic with your estimates. • Always take a deposit before starting on work or you will run out of cash very quickly. • When putting sales into your cash flow bear in mind that not all the sales will convert - so be conservative! It’s better to have more cash in the bank than you predicted! • Look out for seasonal trends and factor in quiet months ensuring you have a buffer to carry you through. • Make friends with your bank manager - when times get tough you will need him/her! Domenica di Lieto, Commercial Director/owner – ShineMarketing.com
Mark’s note: Visit Apples new App store for their Mac computers: http://goo.gl/tnD47 - They have some great free financial Apps for you to check out. You’ll need the latest software update to run it: http://support.apple.com/kb/dl1363
Q. With such fierce competition out there, what can you do to increase your chances of gaining work experience? A. I believe there are two main things that can make sure you get noticed, first is having an
outstanding portfolio with strong and creative projects, second is having a positive attitude, companies are interested in good professionals but also in designers with strong personalities. If you are able to combine these two elements you will get noticed for sure. Ana Borges, Footwear Designer - Jaeger London
Q. What would you say were the big do’s and don’ts when trying to find work experience? A. In my opinion, the single most essential element when seeking for your first position in the industry
is work experience. When I was at university, I did a three-week work placement with a couple of footwear brands. One of which ended up offering me a full-time job once I had graduated. Other important things to get right are: • Your portfolio, this is your chance to make a great first impression, make sure it is fantastic, get this right and you’re more likely to get through the front door; • Showing enthusiasm, be willing to start at the bottom, I’ve encountered too many graduates who don’t want to put in the hard graft and think they have made it just because they have a job – this is when the hard work begins • Don’t be afraid to express your true opinion, after all this is what a potential employer is looking for, although always have a reason for your opinion – “I do/don’t like it” should never be an answer, “I do/don’t like because…”. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
Mark’s note: Check out some useful tips for creating a good portfolio (not fashion specific): http://www.coroflot.com/public/help_portfolio_tips.asp
Q. Freelancing can be extremely rewarding but it’s not for everyone, what advice can you give to those who may want to pursue this path? A. Remember your worth. The problem I find is that it feels as though you may be overcharging for
your time, but you need to balance your salary. When freelancing, there'll inevitably be very productive and high-earning periods. Those amazing times when you're making lots of money and enjoying a healthy bank balance. But before you go out and splash the cash, be aware that the good times might not last because every freelancer is constantly on a roller coaster cycle of ups and downs. There will be quiet months and there will be months when you're working all hours of every day. Just remember that any money you earn one month, might not be the same the next. So get used to saving for a rainy day and be prepared for the worst at all times. Also always remember, you’re only as good as your last work, so make it good! Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
A. Freelance design work is very rewarding, in my opinion. You have flexible hours and you can have
a variety of projects which is great. But you need to be aware that there are times when you won't have work or struggle to get projects. Be prepared for this and build up contacts and a strong portfolio. Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
For freelance designers, I’d just like to reiterate this advice I gave someone in an email going on seven years ago! (From Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk) You will get people who won't or can't pay, it is a fact of life and you just have to deal with it. If you have savings to fall back on, you will have a better chance of success. It was a whole five months before I got any work and got paid for it. Even once you have clients, you will need savings to fall back on as it can take a long time to get invoices paid! Some clients now work on 60 day terms - that’s 60 days before you get your invoice paid! In any case always ask for a deposit of at least a days work, that tends to weed out the potential non payers. If you are working from home, don't scrimp on your work equipment - do your research to get the best price you can. Make sure it is properly insured - household insurance does not cover equipment used for work. I ended up with RSI last xmas, I didn't consider how my workstation should be set up. If you work in an office, health and safety takes care of ergonomics, when you work for yourself you have to look after your own health. At the same time, don’t go crazy buying the fanciest things – now I understand why my boss was always complaining about the amount of stationery we got through – it affects your bottom line!
Get a reliable ISP with no downtime - the last thing you want when you are trying to email work off at 3 am is a broadband service that is not working! You might find you have to pay a bit more to be safe but it's worth it. Also bare in mind that server downtime can affect your Google rankings – if a bot goes to find your site and it’s down, it counts against you. Save all your receipts - bare in mind in your first year of business you get 100% tax back on any computer equipment you buy. Get a proper email address for your website - gmail, hotmail or yahoo etc. can look amateurish. You can use gmail in private of course, most of us do, but you need an email address to front the business. Also bear in mind what you name this address. Hotchix@gmail.com is not going to cut it in the business world. Don't expect to get rich quick - we are still nowhere near earning what we used to earn as full timers, three years on, but we are a zillion percent happier and because we are at home all day, we don't waste money on travel, bags of crisps, cans of drink and all those little things you spend on when you work in an office. You will have to be very disciplined with money - it's tempting to piss your first invoice up the wall, but if you don't know when your next job is coming, it's better to play safe. We no longer get cabs, we don't go out so much, we cut down on takeaways and we don't eat out. Much of the money we earn we plough back into the business - it can be costly because you have to keep up with technology. One of the other big shockers is the banks - they don't like the self employed very much - despite us having savings and owing no one a cent, they won't lend to us as they consider us too high a risk. If you want to buy a property in the future, you are looking at 3 years accounts all showing year on year growth and a huge deposit. If you want to borrow money, you might have more chance if you ask a sympathetic (and loaded) friend or relative! As for accounts - you only need a business bank account if you are a limited company - we just run two regular current accounts, we use one for business and one for personal. I also set up an internet savings account which has no penalty for regular withdrawals - arrange for your invoices to be paid directly into it and your money earns you interest immediately. We pay ourselves a monthly 'salary' out of this, into our current account. Again this requires a lot of discipline. Even if you aren't busy - you should always give the impression that you are - clients want to hire successful people. Desperation is very off-putting to them. There are ways of marketing yourself without putting this across. Most important thing is to never ever go asking for work, if people want you to work for them, then they will ask you. Finally read this. http://www.shouldiworkforfree.com/ ;-)
Working for a company
Q. What kind of mentality and work ethic does someone need in order to succeed in your type of job? A. In high-fashion you will need to be prepared to sacrifice everything for a job you really want. The
people who succeed are those who put everything else second. You can get your life back later on when you have reached a certain level and experience. But in the beginning you need luck, hard work and the right attitude. Magnus Gjoen, Designer/Product developer - Vivienne Westwood
Q. In your opinion, what would be the ideal type of company for a new designer to work for and why? A. There isn’t one, it depends what the new designer wants to do. So many different market sectors,
but I would say if you wish to freelance, don’t limit yourself, try working at as many different businesses that service different types of consumer as you can. The variety will benefit you. It is easier to get work if you don’t limit yourself. Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
I don’t believe there is a best career path as I think that some of the most successful and
interesting designers that are out there don’t come from ‘traditional’ backgrounds. I think that these things can’t be planned and as long as you have a passion and make the time to hone the basic skills, you may develop something genius that hasn’t even been entertained before because of strict educational rule points. However, if you have the creative spark, you need to also have the business head; there are some fantastic books out there but in all honestly, if it all seems a bit much, I would highly recommend a business partner. My partner James deals with the finances, etc as these such elements of a fashion label are too important to risk getting wrong. Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
A. In my career, I have worked for large and small companies and both have their advantages and
disadvantages. The advantage of working for large company is that they tend to invest more in technology and into you, offer training, sending you on development and research trips. I’ve probably gained most of my knowledge from companies such as these, however you tend to be a small fish in a big pond with lots of corporate hoops to jump through and politics to deal with.
Continued... This being said, there’s nothing quite like working for a smaller company to gain experience of many roles, being able get on with a job and knowing everyone well, small companies tends to feel more like you are all on the same side working towards the same goal. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
A. To me the ideal company for a designer is a company that can understand the importance of
design and creativity and that can afford the appropriate support to the design team in the research, design and development process. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley
Q. What are the pros and cons of working for someone else before setting up your own business? A. 100% pros: you can see how an organisation works, how it lives, breathes and ultimately becomes
viable. It also gives you the opportunity to have a mentor by just asking advice and questions regarding business the whole way through; you should never be afraid to ask questions, even to the accountancy department! It also allows you to make some money while you work on your collection and business plan; cementing in your head if this is really what you want to do. If you have any aspiration for your business to grow, you need to know how to deal, respect and work with others – experience is the only way this can be learnt. It also allows you take a back seat a little and observe others management skills – what would you do better? How? Many great designers have also only been noticed through working for others, you may not want to give your ideas up, but if you feel you may dry up – it’s not the business for you! Opportunities come through connections and situations and being in employment makes these a little easier to wedge your foot in the door. Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
A. Pros: You can gain some great experience working for someone else. Often in a larger company
you have the opportunity to hone specific skills without all the distractions that come with running your own business. Working for someone else is also a great way meet, work with and learn from people in the industry. Cons: You might get trapped in the comfort of a steady salary and an easy job. Chances are if you are passionate about doing your own thing, working for someone else for too long will frustrate you rather than comfort you. Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
Q. How do you manage to stay focused when you have deadlines to meet and things aren’t going according to plan? A. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize...make a to do list and just get it done. Check each task off as you
finish it. Meeting deadlines is important and will set you apart from your coworkers. Even though we are designing shoes and not saving lives it's still such a fast paced industry that we are always under pressure to have everything done asap! It's the way the fashion industry is run and it's just something you should accept when you're getting into it but also know that stressing will not help you. Stay focused and you should be able to meet any deadline, even if sometimes it means working over time. Jelena Djukic, Senior Designer - Nine West
A. Just stay calm. Designers tend to over stress a bit and get caught up in all the chaos and pressure
around them. Step back, sit down, have a cup of tea and just focus on what you are supposed to do. Don't let group chaos drag you in. Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
Q. Despite all the ups and downs, I’m sure you love what you do, so can you tell me what’s the most rewarding part of your job? A. I love drawing - I get to do this almost daily. I love creating something new and beautiful - I try to
do this to the best of my ability. I love traveling - I have done loads of this through the job. All in all I am very lucky to do a job I really love. Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
Link crushes: www.fashioncareersclinic.com - Great support and career advice for new designers. www.fashionmag.com - Jobs for fashion, luxury and beauty professionals.
Launching your own label
Launching your own label
Q. Setting up a business can be risky at the best of times so what common mistakes should designers try to avoid? A. - Do not: think you are amazing because your parents and your tutor said so, it’s the wider world
Do not: use the first company that replies (supply/manufacturing, etc) always follow the 3-quote rule and you shouldn’t trip up. Do not: rush or let your first design prototypes ‘just do’; they need to be perfect.
Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
A. Most things take twice as long as you estimate and cost twice as much as you think
(if you are lucky). Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
A. Producing a product that you want to design but no one wants to buy will see your business fail. If it’s too expensive (or too cheap) for the market you’re in, if it’s outdated or too early for the market.
Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Q. What advice would you give to new designers who plan to launch their own business? A. Study for the relevant qualifications then work in industry as an employee for a minimum of five
years first. You need to develop the following skills: - You have to have strong drawing skills; you need to be able to draw in proportion and often to be able to do this quick and in front of a client. - You have to be very adaptable – clients change their minds a lot! - You have to have stamina – you may have to fly to China, start work soon as you step off the plane and work non-stop til you come home. At busy times I work over 100 hours a week! - You have to be able to take criticism – some clients can be very harsh. - You have to have an eye for fashion and colour. - You have to be organised – there is lots of planning involved. Jessica Good, Designer, shoedesign.co.uk
A. Go to trade shows, go to stores, read magazines, check out the internet and get as much
knowledge on the industry and how it works before you start spending money on your own brand. Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Continued: Q: Q. What advice would you give to new designers who plan to launch...? A. Gain experience and learn as much as you can about the industry, design and manufacturing. It’s a big and expensive step to launch a label so it helps to have as much skills and knowledge as possible. Learn as much as you can from successful people and companies. Build up as many contacts as possible. When setting out on your own, you're going to need a whole network of people and a few favours along the way. Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
A. Use every public service available to you; any mentoring programs, any business support, for
example we have ‘business gateway’ in Scotland, and also the Princes Trust is a valuable source of information and guidance. If you really want to go for it anyway, you need hard cash, test and research thoroughly, and have existing contacts within the industry to ask advice from; be aware though, there are a lot of designers out there not willing to share contacts, they have worked hard to get there and feel everyone else should too, others are a lot lovelier – just got to pick right.☺ Jili Alen, Creative Designer - MJM Int./Owner of Jili Allen Ltd
Q. Despite all the ups and downs, I’m sure you love what you do - can you tell me what’s the most rewarding part of your job? A. It’s pretty simple and it’s been the same ever since I started working as a designer 11 years ago,
it’s the moment when the piece you’re working on clicks into place. I could have been staring at my screen for ages thinking a design was never going to work and then finally it does and I feel like I’ve solved a puzzle. It’s really rewarding and satisfying. And the team I work with here at my-wardrobe are all really lovely people so that’s pretty rewarding too – it’s nice to be able to spend your day with people that you like and who make you laugh. Ruth Cozens, Art Director - my-wardrobe.com
Q. Being your own boss may seem like a dream job but the reality is often stressful and lonely, what should a designer consider before choosing this path? A. I think they should first consider that most of your work isn’t design if you run your own brand.
Most of your time is taken up with sales, marketing, development, delivery and admin. You get to design a lot more if you work for someone else, but you don’t have complete creative control. You also need the mental strength to carry on for a long time without too much success. Nothing happens overnight and it’s not easy. Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Link crushes: www.businesslink.gov.uk - Self-help portal of action-focused information for SME’s. www.smarta.com - Business support and advice for start-ups, small business owners and entrepreneurs. www.businessballs.com - Free online education for ethical work, business, careers and life learning.
Finding the right investor
Finding the right investor
Q. Investors are constantly being approached with ‘great’ ideas and business proposals but what can you do to ensure that your business is the one to catch their eye? A. Make money and have consistent growth. These are the major two factors any investor would look
for as a minimum. We find investment for brands but unfortunately most of our clients aren’t investor ready. Usually we need to work with them for a couple of seasons to get them to a point where an investor would be interested. There are resources like the CFE and Bright Ideas Trust who invest in start-ups but the selection process is arduous. The bank of Mum and Dad is far more likely to give you the seed capital you need to start up (typically between £75-150,000). Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
A. I think investors want to see the numbers mainly so they know they will get a return, but also a track record. So it’s best if you have experience in the industry or some customers already when you go to them. Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com Q. Business plans tend to be ‘one-size-fits-all’ but is it worth producing different versions depending on the intended audience, i.e. Investor, bank, yourself? A. Firstly all fashion brands should have a business plan. If you don’t know where you want to go, you will never get there. You’re right that a business plan fulfils different requirements. I would say you need one business plan - but with conservative growth figures (for the bank) and ambitious growth figures (for your capacity planning). Then you won’t waste time updating several documents. There are several resources on line for free to help you write a business plan. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com Q. Other than finance, what additional skills should the ideal investor bring to the table? A. Ensure the investors’ interests are aligned with yours. It must be a relationship where everyone wins if your business grows. Also make sure you have an advisor working for you. When we look for investors for brands we only get paid by the brand. Therefore we can work truly in the interests of our client. However other brokers aren’t so scrupulous. So ensure everyone in the chain is working to get you the best deal possible. Also examine other deals the investor has done. What has happened to companies they have invested in? Think about why the investor is interested in you. If their price is much higher than their competitors then there is usually a catch – there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Also if you have one investor interested, then try and find another to play them off against each other. That way you will drive the price up and generate interest in the brand. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
Mark’s note: NatWest have a really cool app that allows you to create a business plan with ease check out: http://goo.gl/gA9vD. Also check out: http://goo.gl/MdPFU and http://goo.gl/HYBXT for loads more business templates.
Q. There have never been so many sales channels available - what do you think is the best route to market for a designer and why? A. I don’t know, each channel has its fors and against. There is no easy answer. The key for me is to look at the costs, do a simple P&L if the numbers do not add up then it is not workable and often scale is the key. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com Q. Wholesale seems to be the most tried and tested route to market for many designers but what are the pros and cons? A. Pros are:
- Established stores can sell more than you ever can, and market your product for you at the same time. - People need to see your product up close before they buy it. - Good stores give your brand credibility and help other buyers to feel confident you can deliver. Cons: - If you sell to a larger store then they are very strict on deliveries, you need to know their system, use the right carrier and get your factory up to speed. - Get a decent contract as a big order returned or refused can bankrupt you. Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Q. How do you find a suitable wholesaler and what is the best way to approach them? A. I sell direct to stores myself mostly. I meet the buyers at trade shows or set up a meeting when they are in London. In a couple of countries I now have agents to sell for me, it’s the first season so I’ll see what happens with that.
Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Q. Sales should be at the heart of any business so what advice can you give with regards to setting realistic and manageable targets? A. You should aim to at least double your turnover each season for the first two years. If you only
have a wholesale business then expect to have at least 50 stockists by year 3. Don’t be reluctant to give 12-15% commission to agents. If they bring business in then they are cheaper than full time...
Continued... employees. If they don’t achieve their targets then you don’t need to pay them. Ensure the agent has specific agreed targets but also ensure you give them no excuses by delivering their samples and selling tools on time. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
Q. ‘Sales’ is an area where many designers often fall short, how can you set realistic price points and still maximize profits? A. Most designers double the cost to achieve the wholesale price. Whilst this is a good benchmark it
isn’t the best way of pricing the line. You need to know who your adjacencies or competitors are and how much they retail their equivalent item for. The retail price target should be just under theirs. If that means you make little or no margin, then go back to your supply base and ask them for prices based on 100 units. If you still make no money then you need to look at the product and try to reduce the cost but not the value. You also need to make sure your price points make sense relative to each other. For example, a jacket should never cost less than a pair of trousers in the same fabric. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
Q. What is the best way to get a store to stock your collection and what happens if it doesn’t sell as well as expected? A. Buyers receive several emails a day introducing new brands so you need to ensure you have a
point of difference. Product visuals, pricing, press coverage and current distribution/adjacencies are imperative. An initial call to introduce yourself and your product is usually the best first point of contact, followed by a detailed informative email with an invitation to view the collection. Always make sure you visit and research the store before you approach them to ensure your product is suitable and to suggest where you would pitch and place your product. Be professional, polite, respectful and tenacious in your dealings with buyers. Assume they will say yes until they say no. Also work on the assumption that only 1 in 10 people you email will ever agree to see you. Then only 1 in 10 people who see you will actually write an order that season. Therefore I always suggest to my clients to have a prospect list of around 500 stockists. Although this seems large in fact it only accounts on average for 5 new stores each season. In terms of sell thru once it’s in the store then you need to get sales figures. Most stores can give you figures by style. Anything under 40% is a problem. Find out why they think certain lines don’t sell and try and correct these issues next season if appropriate. You should consider stock swaps or sale or return if you can afford it. Anything to help the store sell your product – otherwise they won’t come back next season. Most importantly though don’t let performance in certain stores de-motivate you or cause you to modify your look too much. If you can go to the store, see how they have displayed it and who you are next to. All these are sales factors as well as the price/product/fit/brand formula. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
Q. What are the most important things for designers to consider when approaching the luxury market? A. Selling direct – particularly with a bricks and mortar retail store – can give you an opportunity to
create a brand experience for the consumer? The reason margins are so high in retail is partly due to the risk of buying stock that may never sell but mainly due to the high overheads and staffing costs associated with a store. The really successful designer boutiques create a world that the consumer cannot experience anywhere apart from that space. If you create a generic store and hope the product will sell itself you will probably lose a lot of money. Ecommerce is far less of an investment but just as complex. You still need to gamble on the stock but you have to spend at least £20,000 on a transactional website before you consider search engine optimisation. This is why most brands start out wholesaling their product and only attempt selling direct when their brand has a sufficient following to warrant the investment. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
A. Think, Also, Beyond Your Creation - A person’s sense of time, and its relation to one’s sensitivity to
sensual experience, are critical to their appreciation of luxury. Therefore, luxury marketers should focus on three initiatives: 1. Their stores or website layouts and product displays – just like their creations, must be designed to slow the perception of time, to increase a customer’s intensity and persistence of focus, and to excite the imagination. 2. Product presentations should be as artfully rendered as are the luxury items produced by luxury artisans. This entails “conversational abilities” on the part of salespeople to co-author a narrative that intertwines the product story with the customer’s story so the two become metaphorically merged. This, of course, is harder to do on-line than in-store, but still can be supported by expert design of the digital space. 3. Presently, a great deal of attention is being paid to in-store and website design that enables the consumer to experience the particular luxury brand represented. This marketing goal is slightly misplaced. The big payoff comes not when the brand and its referents are the end-point, but when the offering is perceived as a venue for a person’s own sense of self-expansion. The luxury product is but a means to an end. When the luxury consumers’ shopping experience is as luxurious as the product itself, the brand is enhanced, the probability of sale heightened, and an increase in the number of items a consumer purchases per visit is maximized. Dr. Bob Deutsch, Cognitive Anthropologist – Branding & Marketing Expert
Q. How would you describe the mindset of the luxury consumer and what is the most effective way to engage them? A. The luxury consumer wants to buy into a brand and lifestyle - their shopping experience must
reflect in both the service they are given as well as the product. Companies must engage them on all levels through service, visuals and luxury high quality product. Katie Wade, buyer womenswear, House of Fraser
A. There are several types of luxury consumer. From the fashionista who wants to be the first to
discover the new Westwood or Temperley. They will pay, but the product must be right and the story needs to be good. To the working professional who wants a modern take on heritage and a product with provenance. They will only pay for excellent craftsmanship and true beauty. Whoever you appeal to the most important thing is to know and understand your consumer. Where do they shop, what do they currently wear, what values are important to them. Then you need to ensure you design, market, distribute and price with them in mind. Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
A. Luxury is not only indexed by price point. People value an experience that takes them just beyond
their present selves. Real luxury is not just for display or comfort, but is something that enables one to elaborate what is latent in them that has not, up until this point, been made manifest. Luxury and value, like clothing, must be made to be worn – worn to extend and adorn the self. Luxury and value are more about the experience than simply the product – an experience that makes you feel more authentic, that makes you feel you are an artisan of self, with time to sense and express your personal individuality. Luxury might best be defined as an investment in self. That’s meaningful consumption that holds value. Dr. Bob Deutsch, Cognitive Anthropologist – Branding & Marketing Expert
A buyers perspective
...with Katie Wade, buyer womenswear - House of Fraser
Q. How do you decide what products to purchase and what can designers do to make their offering more attractive? A. I know the products that work for our customer so base my decisions on a mixture of sales history
and gut feeling. Designers can make their offering more attractive through marketing and making sure they have the right pieces and seasonal must haves for our customers.
Q. What is the most effective way for a designer to introduce themselves to a store in order to get them to stock their collection? A. Make sure your product and brand concept is what is missing from the brand mix already in store!
Understanding the department and current brand mix is essential. In today's society celebrity endorsement, marketing and press coverage boosts sales, however nothing beats great quality product, a strong brand image and tip top logistics!
Q. How can designers work with stores to help them promote their brand? A. Support is vital - some stores offer advertising space in store or through their store publications
which is worth the investment. Ensuring shop fits and boutiques are maintained through visual merchandising is a must also.
Q. Returned orders and cancellations are inevitable but what can be done to reduce this? A. Ensuring deliveries are prompt and fulfilled should reduce cancellations. Reducing returns on
orders can be helped by monitoring in season sales- sales incentives.
Q. What should a designer do if they are not able to meet a deadline for the delivery of stock and what are the consequences? A. Notify the client as soon as possible and let them know when they can next expect the stock.
Buyers and merchandisers will usually request a discount as they will lose selling time on a product or may have bought certain styles to arrive in store for a certain time or event for example Christmas party styles won't sell if they arrive mid December!
Link crushes: www.retailminded.com - Professional blog that support retailers, wholesalers, boutiques, independents. www.youngentrepreneur.com - Online forum offering advice to entrepreneurs worldwide. www.internetretailing.net - Internet Retailing analysis, insight and stimulus for multichannel retailers.
Mark’s note: www.fashionbuyeruk.blogspot.com/ - A a great blog if you want to gain a better insight in to the world of buying and merchandising.
Growing your Business
Growing your business
Q. Increased sales normally require a larger team to fulfill theses orders - how can you ensure that your staff share the same passion for your business? A. Firstly, I would only employ someone who I could see shared my passion, integrity and vision for
my business. Having a clear brand mission and vision helps bring the team together and ensure you’re all aiming for the same goal. It stops being a matter of taste or personal preference and starts being something you can measure things by. I firmly believe that if you keep your staff and environment happy then you have nothing to worry about. Coming to work in a design environment should be an enjoyable experience, it is not like we work in IT! Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
A. Certainly not only by the amount of hours they spend in the office. I'd rather pay attention to their
motivation and involvement when it comes to helping the business grow or resolve eventual problems. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer – High-end luxury
A. This is something you need to figure out when you are hiring people. I think most of the time, you'll
have a gut feeling about someone and whether they are going to be with you or whether they aren't coming from the same place as you are. It’s important to listen to your instincts on this one. Also, the more involved your employees feel in the success/failure of your business, the more motivated they will be to create something great. Saloni Sethi, Designer/Design Director, Independent, High-end luxury
Q. Expanding your collection and branching out in to new markets is a natural progression for many designers but how can you reduce the risk without stifling your creativity? A. Don’t make the mistake of expanding too quickly and ensure you have the right factory base for
the product. I’ve witnessed for myself how experienced big corporations can fall into this trap. Ensure that any new products or markets fit into your overall vision for your brand and your target market, don’t enter these just because they make money, in the long term you just dilute your brand. Louise Shill, Senior Footwear Designer - Shoe Geek
A. Part of what you do has to be commercial and sometimes it's the small details or logo added to
something basic which sells the best. One can't always be super-creative, leave this for your main collection and make the sacrifices with lesser important things. You do need the revenues from such things. Magnus Gjoen, Designer/Product developer - Vivienne Westwood
Continued: Q. Expanding your collection and branching out in to new markets is a natural...? I think that to you should always focus on maintaining a strong unique identity, no matter how much your collections and business grow. Focus on what your customers know and trust you for and what they expect from you. Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer – High-end luxury
Q. What is the one piece of advice that you would give to new designers who are thinking about starting a business? A. Speak to people. Ask questions. Tell people about what you are doing. Conversations open up
relationships. It’s amazing to see the ripple effect you get when you just talk. I was given this advice but it is taking me some time to really make it part of my day-to-day way. Nicole Le Grange, Creative Director - Love Art Wear Art
A. Do not get started until you're sure you have something meaningful to say
Maxence Dinant, Senior Menswear Designer – High-end luxury
A. To me the greatest guarantee of success is not to be afraid of failing. Some great designers met
their expectations and are incredibly successful. Some others, probably as great as the first category, may have failed at some point in their career, but kept the momentum and creativity to come back and be successful again. I think it is important to keep faith and believe in your vision of how to design great products, as there are no rules and there are so many different interpretations. Failure and misunderstanding from others can happen and it is not the end of your world, it has happened and will surely happen again even to the greatest designers. And there are so many designers who are not after celebrity or personal success but who live in the shadow of renowned people and still make this industry so attractive and make all these beautiful products come true. Most of us are more likely to be these anonymous designers but it comes as a reward when we put so much effort, passion and hard work in the products that people love. So my piece of advice would be to believe in your strengths, your interpretation of what a great design is, your creativity, your design process and techniques etc. and to learn from the greatest designers you may be lucky enough to be in contact with or work closely with. Pascal Nuzzo, Head of Design Leather Goods and Accessories - Temperley
A. I would think the best thing to be aware of is that no one gets it perfect the first time; starting a
business is always a learning process. Saloni Sethi, Designer/Design Director, Independent, High-end luxury
A. I did not set up the business, but was brought in to make it into a profitable, well run operation that
had its products and the customer at the centre of its focus. Look after your cash, most businesses fail because of lack of cash, burning it too quickly and running out, or not having enough to grow. Cash is king. Julia Reynolds, CEO, Figleaves.com
Q. What is the first thing you need to do if you want to get a fully transactional website made? A. Understand what you are selling as this will have an impact on all your other decisions:
- Product Pricing, what payment system will you use. - What market it is aimed at? - Number of different products you want to sell - Categories and attributes associated with the product - Does your agency/developer understand the technology behind it? - How much does it cost? Benjamin Johnson: Web developer - Aardvark Media Ltd
Q. Is it a viable option to build your own transactional website using an out-of-the-box package, if so which one would you recommend? A. That depends on your technical skills but something like shopify ( http://www.shopify.com/ ) may
let you do this. I am not experienced enough in different ecommerce systems to give a truly useful option here however. Benjamin Johnson: Web developer - Aardvark Media Ltd
Q. What is the most important thing to consider when deciding on the layout and overall theme of your website? A. Definitely ease of use. In retail you have to make the path to purchase as simple, intuitive and
pleasurable as possible for the customer. Ruth Cozens, Art Director - my-wardrobe.com
A. To me the most important thing is to understand what you are selling and whom you are selling it
to. Know this and the rest will follow: - You can look at your competitors in this area and see what designs they are using. - What kind of technical knowledge do your users have? - Are you selling a very visual product liking clothing or jewellery? Benjamin Johnson: Web developer - Aardvark Media Ltd
Q. What can be done to ensure customers who visit your site have an experience that’s worth talking about? A. Always think about it from the customers’ point of view, do not look at it from the view that you
have to have all the gadgets and gizmos. Customers are there to buy a product and want the easiest and quickest way to do that, they want you to make it easy for them. Think about the end to end operation and process your USP’s and the costs. You will have the edge if your customer service is tip top, but think about all parts of the customer service. The sale, the delivery experience and the after care service. Julia Reynolds, CEO - Figleaves.com
Q. Beyond the flashy designs and colourful photography, good quality content is still the number one commodity, what is the best way to strike a balance between the various elements? A. This is always difficult. The web is a brands largest billboard so it is important to provide a
compelling brand experience while keeping things simple so your loyal customers do not have to jump through hoops to access the information or product they are interested in. The numbers speak for themselves, you have to look at what your website visitors are interacting with and guide your development and design towards their interests to some degree - it is important to try new things as well. It is not always the flashy content that consumers are interested in. Jennifer Roebuck, Dir of eCom & Digital Marketing - Frenchconnection.com
A. Never let flashiness get in the way of true usability. People don’t want to be overwhelmed with
whiz-bang sites that they can’t truly enjoy. I’d say again, this is a great area where using one’s gut is key. Shannon Edwards, Director, ShopStyle - Europe
A. It all starts with and hangs on the message you’re trying to convey. Sometimes for us the most
important part of that is an inspiring photograph, other times it might be some insightful writing – you work out what the most impactful part is and then everything else sits back a little and let’s it do its work. Ruth Cozens, Art Director - my-wardrobe.com
Q. What is ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ or ‘SEO’ and how can this be used to improve a websites rankings with search engines like Google? A. SEO is making websites more accessible to search engines with the goal of making your site be
displayed in a more prominent position when a potential customer searches for something relevant to your site. It breaks down into: 1. Considering how your pages will appear in search engines on the site itself. Ideally as part of the build process or failing this, modifications to an existing site. 2. On-going content creation and link building. By considering various known ranking factors (A famous one is Googles original PageRank algorithm) you can attempt to adapt your website to perform better the algorithms the search engines use (In the case of PageRank this used to be get lots of links to your site). Benjamin Johnson: Web developer - Aardvark Media Ltd
What are website ‘analytics’ and how can they be used to increase traffic and sales? A. Analytics are tracking metrics that relate to the people visiting your site. Things like how long
someone stays on a particular page down to how many people bought your product and how much they spent are all analytics that can be measured. Analytics can be applied to make improvements to the way your site performs once a potential customer is on the site itself. You can see pages that are under performing, make changes and judge the results. Benjamin Johnson: Web developer - Aardvark Media Ltd
What is a ‘marketing persona’ and what is it used for? A. A persona is a description of a person we invent for the purposes of evaluating a website. Usually
with a brief description of Sex, Age, Job, Income and then try to look at the website as they would see it. They can be useful to get you to think about it from the customers perspective rather than building a website you would like to use. Benjamin Johnson, Web developer - Aardvark Media Ltd
Q. Are there any other tips or advice that you can give to someone who is thinking about trading online? A. Think about the customer experience, the best way to get the attributes of the product across to
the customer so that they can make a considered choice. Make sure all the information is there and it is an easy user experience. Avoid jargon that makes sense only to you. Make sure that you are true to your brand values and make sure that this carries through at every level. Julia Reynolds, CEO - Figleaves.com
Link crushes: www.thewebdesignblog.co.uk - Web design tutorials, articles, freebies, downloads, reviews and interviews. www.freewebstore.org - Create your own free ecommerce web store. www.ecommerce-templates.volusion.co.uk - Professionally designed ecommerce templates. www.order.1and1.co.uk - Hosting package, Domains and Web space & more features. www.software.toptenreviews.com - Great site for comparing software to help you build your business. www.seomoz.org - One of the most popular SEO software providers. www.uxbooth.com/blog - Articles and resources on usability, user experience and interaction design. www.useit.com - Research findings from many usability studies - one of the most popular sites on the subject!
Q. What makes social media such a valuable medium for new business owners in particular? A. Social media has ‘democratised’ marketing. No longer do you need big agencies, large budgets
and a known brand. You just need to be smart, clear and creative. This isn’t a substitute for having a compelling product or service; but it has been a great leveler of the playing field. Because even big brands that have employed big budgets and big minds to ‘crack the code’ of social media have failed where savvier and smaller brands have succeeded with more authenticity. Shannon Edwards, Director, ShopStyle, Europe
A. It is just one level - but traditional forms of communication still need to be utilised in tandem I feel.
It is very cost effective to use them though and if you are forward thinking in your approach you can engage brilliantly with your target audience. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
Q. Given the fact that most people view social media as a form of entertainment (i.e. Facebook, twitter, etc.) how can brands engage with consumers without being intrusive? A. Focus on developing relevant, high quality content and do not push it on people. Social Media
communications can feel like spam if you constantly push your messaging on people who have expressed interested in your brand. Jennifer Roebuck, Director of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
A. Brands need to find a natural and compelling way to fit into the dialogue going on via social media.
This is why discounts and deals work well. As a consumer I’m looking for a brand to give me access to something that’s being talked about – e.g., the hottest, most talked about - here’s where you can find it. The flip side of this is that an awkward or irrelevant mention can feel like an intrusion (have you seen some of the Facebook ads?) Shannon Edwards, Director, ShopStyle, Europe
Mark’s note: Very insightful review of how luxury brands are embracing the digital arena. This review is dated 2009 but it’s still a good read. http://luxurylab.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Digital-IQIndex_2009_hyperlinks4.pdf
Q. What is the most effective way to monitor what people are saying about your company online and how can this be used to your benefit? A. We use various social media tools and PR monitoring tools to keep track of customer opinions and
press within the blog community and online media publications. We use that information to make changes to our products or service levels where possible. Jennifer Roebuck, Director of eCom & Digital Marketing – Frenchconnection.com
Q. With social media and ecommerce merging closer together what can companies do to take advantage of this? A. It’s important to remember that social media is just another channel and a means to an end. It’s
fresh, new and exciting, but it should still be looked at as part of a more holistic campaign. Companies still need to do the hard work to identify what their audience wants, needs and how they interact with their friends, colleagues and the larger world around them; especially when it comes to commerce. Because the more seamlessly and authentically ecommerce is integrated into their everyday lives, the more they’ll embrace it. Shannon Edwards, Director, ShopStyle, Europe
Q. What is the difference between a ‘social network’ and a ‘tribe’ and why is this important? A. Tribes Are More Potent Than Networks.
Social networks are free-forming, require no organization or face-to-face mediation. Social networks allow for the expression of current mindsets, but are not good at conversion or moving that mindset toward action. Marketers who can better understand the formation of tribes - more than networks - will gain a larger return on investment. There are five requirements for tribal formation: 1. Possession of a Unique Revelation - An ideology that in some way rejects the mainstream and is symbolic of an uncompromising idealism and certainty that is expressed with romantic passion and cold logic. 2. A Belief System - A mythology about how the world works and how tribe members, and the tribe, can maximize “self” in relation to that world. 3. Ritual - The creation of recurrent, exaggerated or stylized behavioral routines that represent the tribe’s belief system; this helps establish institutional memory.
Continued... 4. A Distinctive Lexicon - A characteristic lingo and a set of emblems to display membership. 5. In-group/Out-group accentuation - A pseudo-speciation that defines tribal boundaries. The “Other” is not like me. Having satisfied these requirements, the motivation for membership is: I am becoming myself. Belonging gives you a sense of power to overcome and to expand yourself. As a member of a tribe, people feel safer and more empowered. Tribal membership aids in the belief that the world is a manageable place and that one’s future is assured. If designers-as-marketers are mindful of the fact that brands should have a mission that arouses peoples’ tribal fervor, their brands will gain higher repeat purchases, greater loyalty, and stronger brand advocacy. Dr. Bob Deutsch, Cognitive Anthropologist – Branding & Marketing Expert
Link crushes: www.mashable.com - Social Media news blog covering cool new websites and social networks. www.scottmonty.com - The intersection of advertising, marketing and PR at The Social Media Marketing. www.bigmouthmedia.com - A blog about the wird and wonderful world of social media.
Mark’s note: If you’d like to learn more about ‘Tribes’ and how they operate check out Dr. Bobs interview with fashionscollective.com http://goo.gl/RVONK. You can also download Seth Godin’s fee ebook which explores the issue further: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/10/free-tribes-ebo.html
Q. Bloggers are quickly becoming a strong force within the fashion industry but is this just a passing phase or will their popularity increase? A. I'm in two minds about bloggers and their position within the fashion industry as, from the various
fashion weeks I've attended and the numerous PR and marketing people I've spoken to, I see a near-future 'fracturing'. Their popularity came about as a result of their reach, their popularity rose when there was only a handful of bloggers; there was a novelty factor (buzz, which the fashion industry loves) combined with fewer bloggers reaching a large market segment. Now the number has multiplied but the market reach hasn't grown at the same rate, inversely the buzz factor has decreased as now everyone is a blogger. At the same time there's a perception in the industry that bloggers are too demanding given the perceived value the majority of them return. Thus it becomes necessary for the industry to segment the bloggers, and come to an understanding of who has impact and who doesn't. If this doesn't happen soon the conversations I've had indicate that parts of the industry will soon write off bloggers as a whole. Inversely, other parts of the industry, particularly emerging labels, are intrinsically aware of what impact the right blogger can have; they still need to reach the right ones and shan't be giving up anytime soon as a result. Change is in the air. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com
A. Bloggers bring a different perspective to the table. Initially they were like reporters - not bias and
would present to the public an honest and personal perspective of whatever it was they blogged about. Blogging was about not being obligated to cater to advertiser but we know how all things eventually change. Nonetheless, blogging still speaks to a select audience. The fashion industry sees that they can market their product to an already distinct population. Karl-Edwin Guerre, Blogger/Photographer - Swagger360.com
A. Personally I believe the moment is passing - we are seeing a bit of a backlash with blogging.
There are a handful of great ones still - but many are becoming too commercialised having sold out to advertisers and brands. Of course they need to make money, but also need to remember what made them attractive in the first place was their unique voice. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
Link crushes: www.tumblr.com - A feature rich and free social blog hosting platform. www.blogspot.com - Free weblog publishing tool from Google, for sharing text, photos and video.
Q. Bloggers tend to blog about things that genuinely interest them so what’s the best way for a designer to get their attention? A. Bloggers are never short of content; ‘Fashionising.com’ can receive anywhere up to 100 pitches
per day across all our writers, yet we tend to publish no more than 8 features (the majority of which never come about as the result of obvious PR pitches). Standing out in that is not easy. The best way to do it? Ensure you're relevant to their message (nothing is more frustrating then a pitch that's not even close to what you write about), craft your message to each blogger (mass mail is nothing more then spam), and be willing to reward. Grease the wheel. Invite them to events. Send them a sample. Make them feel special. But above all else: make it easy. I can't tell you the amount of pitches that are so poorly put together, with such poor resources available, that to do anything as a blogger you'd have to jump through hoops. It then becomes a question of time, and everyone feels themselves to be time poor. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com
A. Unique content gets their interest. We feature lots of new emerging brands in our shoots and often
have interesting new designers guest posting on the Fashion156 Daily Blog. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
A. There's a blog for everything. A company needs to find out what blogs cater to their buyers then
move towards establishing a relationship. In my case, if the product represents a lifestyle I'm open to learning more about the company. Ultimately it's about a company understanding that to be featured on just any blog doesn't give them maximum exposure... it's about finding the right fit, the right relationship. Karl-Edwin Guerre, Blogger/Photographer - Swagger360.com
Q. How can a designer best utilise their own company blog in order to engage consumers and add something unique to their brand experience? A. First off I think too many companies start their own blogs when they are better off partnering up
with an established blogger. Some bloggers are seasoned and know how to maximize every post. I believe that blogs are an extension of lifestyle. A company needs to have the blog be an extension of the lifestyle they're promoting. Karl-Edwin Guerre, Blogger/Photographer - Swagger360.com
A. It just needs to be authentic and genuine. If you are just trying to push merchandise then
consumers see straight through it. Go behind the scenes; let the site visitor in to really see the brands DNA. Interest them and they will be back. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
Continued...Q. How can a designer best utilise their own company blog in order to engage...?
A. Designers should be using their own blogs to tell their unique story. If it's a lifestyle brand then
content should be relevant to giving insight, as well as inspiring and benefiting that lifestyle (a luggage label could blog about the world's destinations for instance). If a designer is doing something high-end whose value is in the craft, then blog about that craft, tell the story of the brilliance in the object's making, where things are sourced, the name of the person who stitches it or shapes it. Make the design come to life. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com
Q. How important is it to increase the number of subscribers to your blog or should your focus be elsewhere? A. A blogger, whether they're a designer, an enthusiast or a professional, should always concentrate
on content first and subscribers second. It's easy to get a subscriber through average content but that subscriber will soon become interested in something else. Concentrate instead on the right message in your content and you'll have fewer subscribers in the short term, but each will be passionate about you and what you do. Better to have fewer, passionate subscribers for a long period of time than a lot who appreciate your work for no more than a few days. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com
A. Content is the number one priority - as soon as the quality drops so will your traffic. Subscribers
are important as long as you are regularly updating your site and have quality at the forefront. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
Q. What advantage does a blogging platform have over a traditional website and how can this be used to its full potential? A. Blogs are by their nature less formal and a great way to really "talk" with your audience - tell them
what is new, what is happening and why things are occurring. Invite them in to leave comments and establish a two-way conversation. Many traditional websites now have a blogging component - but it is reaching saturation point and sometimes the more formal website? Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
A. Blogging is fresher. It allows you to constantly add content without having to involve multiple
people. It's a daily feed and the constant ("right") updates keep viewers coming back. Karl-Edwin Guerre, Blogger/Photographer - Swagger360.com
A. That's a loaded question. Today's content engines (the code that drives any blog) allows for so
much customization that a blogging platform can generate a site that looks every bit as 'traditional' as any other website. The real advantage for anyone in the business isn't from having a blogging platform, but having one that is wholly suited to the long term ambitions of any website. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com
Q. What common traits have you noticed among the designers who stand out from the crowd and go on to be successful? A. Lifestyle. People who sell product don't last. Those who sell a lifestyle become stables.
Karl-Edwin Guerre, Blogger/Photographer - Swagger360.com
A. The ability to design in-line with where their intended market is and, more importantly, where it is
going. Take the military trend, great designers such as Burberry's Christopher Bailey have moved on from it at the same time as their customers have. Good or 'okay' designers are still working with it, failing to notice the wider social change. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com To make it you need to be really talented with great innovative ideas, BUT as importantly the business aspect needs to be 100% in place too. Without stockists no business can survive long term however great the designs. All the brands that are doing well at the moment are focused, committed and prepared to sacrifice nearly everything to succeed. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
Q. What tips and advice can you give with regards to setting up and maintaining a fashion blog? A. From day one plan what your content is going to be about, whether that means it's a scrapbook or
a personal exploration of your own sartorial tastes. Also ensure that you have the right platform: if you intend to be serious about it that means having your own domain name and hosting, if you intend to pursue it as a hobby that means hosting it on Tumblr. As for maintaining it: find a frequency to your posts (once a day, once a week, etc...) that you're comfortable with, and stick with it - your audience will expect that. Daniel P Dykes, Editor-in-Chief/Chairman - Fashionising.com
A. You need to be creating fresh content and uploading regularly. Focus and try to offer something a
little different. There are only so many blogs we can all follow and read. Guy Hipwell, Founding Editor/Creative Director - Fashion156.com
A. Honestly I think there are already too many...however not many excellent ones. The advice I give
is strive to be the best if you're serious and hope to become a force. Karl-Edwin Guerre, Blogger/Photographer - Swagger360.com
Link crushes: www.copyblogger.com - A brilliant blog dedicated to explaining the various elements of producing good copy. www.technorati.com - Real-time blog search engine.
...with James Lightbown, Fashion & Lingerie photographer - Jameslightbown.com
Q. When choosing a photographer to shoot your collection what is the most important thing to consider? A. As a photographer I would say that the most important thing for a designer is to find a
photographer who understands the designers vision and has the necessary skills, talent and industry understanding to interpret this vision into strong images that satisfy the needs they have to serve, be that a lookbook, online store or advertising images. The sad truth is that so many choices of photographer are based on budget that normally ends up being a false economy. It doesn't matter how good your product is, if you don't get pictures that are good enough then your ability to get your product to market is severely hampered. Look books, press releases, web stores, advertising all depend on photography to generate interest. The better the photography the more the interest. It's not just about the cheapest photographer, having a photographer who can take pretty pictures isn't necessarily enough either. A good photographer will able to deal with so many more facets of a shoot than simply taking pictures and will understand your product and it's delivery to market.
Q. Where is the best place to start looking for a good photographer? A. Personal recommendations and word of mouth is still one of the best sources of business for a
photographer. The old adage of ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ rings very true, but beware of the "my mate's got a good camera" recommendations! - The Association of Photographers website - Reputable photographer's agents
Q. What’s the secret to a successful photoshoot? A. It starts with choosing a good photographer and a good team but dialogue and preparation is of
vital importance. Everyone must be clear at all stages as to what is expected. The designer must be clear in their expectations and the photographer must manage these expectations accordingly. Moodboards are not only incredibly helpful but a must! A strong well planned out idea with a clear brief will always help to make a photoshoot run smoothly.
Continued... A strong and experienced team with a strong and experienced model is worth their weight in gold. A well cast model when combined with a photographer who knows when they've 'got the shot' is going to save time and therefore money as well as reducing stress. It is vitally important for designers to be aware of any limitations that might be in place. If working with budget constraints don't try and be too elaborate. It's far better to keep it simple and shoot it well, than attempt something too elaborate that can't be achieved for the budget. Inferior pictures just make your product look inferior.
Q. Can you break down what a photographer commission structure might include? A. The price for commissioning a photo shoot can vary for so many reasons.
- Number of shots needed - Usage of images - Style of shoot - Day rate of photographer - Amount of preparation days required - Amount of post production & retouching required - Costs of location - Costs of the required team - make-up, hair, stylist, models, assistants, set builders, prop builders, prop hire - Studio Hire - Equipment Hire - Catering - Courier Costs - Rush Charges - Travel Costs All of the above will have an impact on price meaning that the cost of commissioning a photoshoot can run anywhere between 3 to 7 figures!
Link crushes: www.photographers.co.uk - Directory for UK based photographers - also offers a forum and exhibitions. www.vanilladays.com - Good photography blog
Q. What research and preparation is needed before the shoot? A. Be clear on the usage and purpose of the images. Spend plenty of time looking at images, not just
competitors but advertising and editorials in magazines and images on photographers websites and get a feel for the sort of shoot you'd like to do. Collect all these images together in a moodboard to show the photographer or agency booking the shoot. There will then be some back and forth between the designer and the photographer/art director to prep the shoot within budget and constraints. If using a model have a clear idea of who the face of your brand is and what that person represents. For advertising and look book you want to find a model that can get that message across and appeal to the market you are aiming for. For catalogue and web store shots you want a model who best fits the product and is experienced enough to get through the shots quickly and efficiently giving a good variety of poses whilst maintaining a high level all day. Once shoot preparation gets under way each member of the team is going to require different elements of preparation: - For the model think - mood, style of poses, attitude. - Put a moodboard together for hair & make-up artists. - Is there a brief for the stylist? And lots of discussions with your photographer, who may well be heavily involved in the production of moodboards and the final brief for the rest of the team. Also vitally important are shot lists. Be clear at the beginning of what needs shooting and in what order of importance, at this point spreadsheets are your friend! If shooting an advertising campaign or an editorial it may be beneficial to produce a storyboard. If shooting web store shots or a lookbook have a list of all the product that needs shooting and tick it off when shot and be organised! Boxing things up when they're shot or switching between rails is going to be efficient on the day. Be clear on everyone's roles on the shoot and what is expected of people.
Q. Finding the right model at the right price requires a lot of time and effort, what’s the best way to go about this? A. As above, start with a firm idea of who the face of your brand is. Who are you targeting with your
designs will influence the decisions of looking for a model. Having a good idea of who you are looking for will make the whole process a lot easier.
Mark’s note: www.ukmodelagencies.co.uk is a good online directory with loads of modelling agencies listed. Also check out: www.whoistesting.com for photographers, stylists, hair and make up artists and model agencies
Tips for organising a casting
If you can, try and be central - making your casting easy to get to is going to increase the likelihood of people actually attending. Granted you may be pushed for time, under tight deadlines etc etc but casting the right face for your brand is a massively important job. Get it wrong and you are stuck with that face representing your brand for the entire season. So be central and in a reasonable location. Remember that some of the models are very young and will be on their own. In fact some may be new to the country, having only arrived a couple of days previously and a lot of them may have anything up to 10 castings in a day to try and get to. So if you're in London, for example, picking somewhere in zone 4 is more than likely going to see lower attendances than picking a nice central zone 1 or 2 location next to a tube station. For the majority of times, try and leave your casting till the week before your planned shoot date. There's not much point casting well in advance for a number of reasons: Models often travel about, the model you really liked may be leaving for Cape Town in 3 weeks time. Their bodies and skin may change, the nearer the shoot you see them the better. "Request castings" over "open calls" - When you're looking for models have a good look at all the reputable agencies and look through their models and see if there's anyone that you like. If there is then request them. Far better for you to be clear on who you like the look of over an open call. A decent job with an open call to the majority of London agents is likely to generate a turnout of 200+ models. That's a lot to look through! If you've got a good idea of who you are looking for then say so. If you're never going to pick a ginger girl then say so. Do you have specific requirements for your shoot? Are all your sample shoes are a size 5? Do all your sample clothes require a long inside leg? Then say so... it just makes everyones life easier. Far, far, better to request brunette girls 5'9 - 5'11" with a size 6 shoe, size 8 dress and 34B/32C and an Eastern European look generating 20 girls you like the look of than have an open call for female models and get 250 girls, 230 of who you would never have picked. Having a casting gives the chance to look through portfolios, meet people in the flesh (i.e. seeing them without Photoshop), chat to them and get a feel for their personalities and grasp of English. You can often be surprised in the difference a good portfolio can make to viewing online and also the difference a good personality can make to decisions.
Q. When hiring a model how is the cost broken down and are there any additional on-going fees that need to be paid? A. There are more costs to consider when booking a model than simply just paying for their time at
the shoot. The standard cost is the model's day rate. However you will also have to pay an agency fee, which varies from agency to agency.
Continued...Q. When hiring a model how is the cost broken down and are there any additional...? You may be expected to pay for travel to and from the shoot. Depending on where the model is coming from, or where your shoot is, you may be expected to pay travel days (if they're travelling for you, they can't work for anyone else!) You will be expected to provide the model with food and drink throughout the day (and time to eat it!) Be nice, ask the agency if they have dietary requirements. If a model has a gluten allergy and you simply buy a lot of sandwiches to take to the shoot then the model isn't going to eat and if they don't eat then they're not going to be able to perform at their best all day. Remember that they are only human! The biggest cost may well be the models usage. Different usage for the images will require different fees to the model.
Q. Time is money, so what preparations needs to be made in order for the day to run smoothly? A. As well as all the preparation mentioned so far additional prep may include:
- A location or site recce, normally attended with the photographer. - Pre production meetings with the photographer. - Pre production meetings with the stylist/set builder/props person/make-up artist/hair stylist. - Potentially a fitting with the model to get clothes fitting just right. - Organising assistants/catering/transport etc. (Remember that prep days & fittings are likely to incur a cost, if people are with you they're not working for someone else.) The photoshoot is a very important day for a designer. It's the vital transition from the months of hard work putting a collection together to the months of hard work marketing the collection to sell. The day your collection is captured in pictures is arguably as important as the catwalk show with similar potential to be stressful. Great preparation can go a long way as does clearly getting your ideas and brief across, however this doesn't always guarantee a hiccup free shoot. Issues will occur on shoots and managing those properly and professionally will go along way to minimising the impact of any problems that might occur. At this point it all comes down to people skills and man management, deal with issues professionally and you'll keep people on side and fighting to get the shoot done for you.
Q. Once the shoot is complete and the fees have been paid does the client own the images 100% or are their additional costs? A. In the same way that a designer owns the intellectual copyright of the designs they have created,
a photographer owns the intellectual copyright of the photographs they have created and the model owns their image rights. This is the reason why the term "usage" has been mentioned so often in answering these questions. For both the model and the photographer standard practice is to charge their day rate and any additional usage fees, depending on what the images are used for and where. A shoot to provide images for a small run look book is likely to incur minimal usage costs as the usage is quite small. In contrast images forming a huge ad campaign that runs on major billboard sites not just in the UK but across Europe or the US is being 'used' for an entirely different purpose and the costs incurred will be reflective of these different uses. Usage will be affected by all of the following and more! Use of Images: For example lookbooks, press releases, point of sale imagery (POS), posters, bus shelters, consumer magazine advertising, trade press advertising, billboards, web ads, virals, trade show banners Territory: UK, Europe, Australasia, US (by countries or possibly by continents) Time: How long you will need to use the images for? Exclusivity: How long you have exclusive right to use the pictures? When a photographer asks you about usage it's not a way of bumping the price up, it's actually a way of getting the price down for a client. To ask for all usage will require a very hefty buyout whereas if you specify what usage you require you are not paying for more than you need. Why would you want to pay the expense of securing the right to use the images on billboards in Wisconsin if you only actually need the shots for 6 months in a lookbook, 6 months of trade show marketing, press releases, a small run of consumer magazine advertising in the UK and online usage for 12 months. For more information on this subject please see the very useful site Copyright For Clients (www.copyright4clients.com) provided by The Association of Photographers.
Link crushes: www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/forums/forum.php - Photography discussion and chat - huge community! www.talkphotography.co.uk - Free photography forum, community & resource with discussion forums etc.
Styling & MakeUp
Q. What is a stylist responsible for? A. The responsibilities of a stylist vary based on the project at hand, but in general, we are
responsible for the overall look and image of a production, show, event, or individual. Alana Kelen, Senior Fashion Stylist a - VH1 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Working with the photographer or designer to ascertain the mood or look of a shoot based on the client’s brief. Working out which designer’s pieces would be suitable for the look or mood of the shoot. Occasionally helping the photographer or client cast the models. Taking note of the coloring, clothes and shoe size of the models booked. Pulling clothes from the relevant designer’s studios, Fashion PR’s or stores and filling out necessary paperwork. Bringing them back to studio or home office to work them into ‘looks’ (outfits). Make or collect any props that may be needed for the shoot. Preparing the stylists ‘work-kit’ bag for the shoot with scissors/ sewing kit/ tape etc. Day of shoot, transporting garments to shoot. Hanging and steaming garments. Dressing models. Helping photographer with the clothes/ props whilst shooting. After shoot, filling out return paperwork and taking clothes back to sources. When images after received from photographer, sending them back to Designers/ Pr’s and Stores for their pressbooks Rachel Anthony, freelance Fashion Stylist - Rachel-Anthony.com
A. A stylist is responsible for making sure the final image looks as it should with regards to wardrobe.
However, a stylist often mediates between the photographer, art director, client, model, hair, makeup, etc. to work out what is desirable, feasible and attainable in each circumstance. Daily responsibilities include pre-production meetings, calling in clothes and accessories, commissioning custom garments or other specialty items, sourcing strange things, transporting and insuring things, signing for things, and worrying about things. Then, returning everything again, to the right places, within the right times. It’s often trickier than it sounds. On a shoot or show day, the stylist (and their many assistants) bring all the wardrobe and accessories, including underwear, hosiery, jewellery, hats, and often props. Some shoots have prop stylists who deal with sets and props, but often fashions stylist need to be ready for this too.
Continued...Q. What is a stylist responsible for? On set, the stylist makes sure the relevant people (clients, photographer, art director) are all in agreement with which garments to shoot and in which order, and makes sure the garments are prepared. This involves, steaming, pressing, altering, sometimes taping, pinning, sewing, clipping and clamping things into place in order to make it all look as perfect as possible. Until the model moves, and then we start again, if there is time. Tara Sugar, Freelance Stylist and Consultant
Q. Where is the best place to go to find a good stylist and what criteria do you use to determine who is suitable for the job? A. Of course the internet is an amazing resource to find a stylist. Many have personal websites
where you can view portfolios of work. Celebrity stylists are also represented by agencies, some of the most well known and exclusive agencies include Margaret Maldonado, Celestine Agency, Artists by Timothy Priano & Jed Root. Alana Kelen, Senior Fashion Stylist a - VH1
A. Most reputable stylists are recommended by word of mouth. Their work can be found published in
magazines and they usually have a website which shows a small selection of their recent work. Many stylists have their own blogs and many can be found through creative agencies. Rachel Anthony, freelance Fashion Stylist - Rachel-Anthony.com
A. The best place to find a stylist would be via a reputable agency, we are all easily found online.
Suitability would be best determined by looking at the stylist's portfolio, evaluating their experience and taste, in comparison to your marketing vision. Look for garments that hang well, flatter bodies, have no visible flaws or abnormalities...in short, look for garments that look great in the pictures. We often have to ask a lot of favours, so we do many in return. Tara Sugar, Freelance Stylist and Consultant
Q. How do you go about interpreting what the client is trying to achieve? A. I take everything into account when working with a client, most importantly what makes them
comfortable. When a person is uneasy in something they are wearing it almost always reads on the outside. I consider all their needs, their body type and always keep in mind to stay classic and present the question, "If looking at this picture 5 or 10 years from now, there will be no regret." Alana Kelen, Senior Fashion Stylist a - VH1
Continued...Q. How do you go about interpreting what the client is trying to achieve?
A. I personally research the ethos or personality of the brand. A moodboard of images that are liked
are usually sent between the client, the photographer and the stylist to make sure that everyone understands what type of ‘story’ is required, for example, light, summertime, youthful. A time era, fictional character or film is often referred to as a partial inspiration. Rachel Anthony, freelance Fashion Stylist - Rachel-Anthony.com
Q. What research and preparation is needed before the shoot? A. Depending on lead-time, there is usually a creative meeting with producers to discuss the needs,
talent and breakdown of shoot. If time allows, I will create a story and inspiration board integrating specific items that are available in market for the talent at hand. The entire process is a collaboration taking into account the talent, the audience and what is appropriate and attainable. Alana Kelen, Senior Fashion Stylist a - VH1
A. This varies greatly depending on the nature and purpose of the shoot. It also depends on the client
and the Art Director. Sometimes, the stylist is also the Art Director. First, we need to establish the intended result with the client/photographer. Then we decide how to execute it. This is best done with photo references to show different effects of light/fabric/mood etc. We spend a lot of time putting together reference and inspirational images for teams. For celebrities and models we need to speak with their PR or agent/booker, in order to confirm full measurements and size and fitting times/availabilities. Sometimes we are involved with casting. In the case of celebrity clients we need to familiarize ourselves with their style, body, history and taste. We then source all needed items via PR, showrooms or retailers. This is usually called 'prep' work and takes anything from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the size of the job. Ongoing work for a stylist is to stay on top of which labels have made what types of things in each season's collection, attending fashion shows and collecting look books. Building relationships with the labels, their PR teams, the designers and working to help them all build their businesses. Tara Sugar, Freelance Stylist and Consultant
Q. What practical things can be done on the day to help the stylist work more effectively? A. The more information and feedback provided, the better the results. Work in enough time for hair,
make-up and wardrobe, especially if a fitting prior to the shoot isn't possible. That being said, having fitting prior to the day of production is always ideal. Alana Kelen, Senior Fashion Stylist a - VH1
Continued...Q. What practical things can be done on the day to help the stylist work more effectively?
- Having a space to hang clothes/ or to change models.
- An electric socket to plug in portable steamer or iron - If the models can come properly prepared for instance in neutral underwear
Rachel Anthony, freelance Fashion Stylist - Rachel-Anthony.com
A. An organized studio/team/location will have most necessary items. We confirm ahead of time that
clothing rails, steamers, water, hangers and electricity will be available. We often check if there will be heat and toilets on locations and prepare accordingly if not - we take nothing for granted. Staying away from the stylist while working with the steamer is often a wise move. Also, having organized lists from each showroom and label, with returns labels prepared makes life much easier on set. Preparation involves being equipped with a fully stocked kit, prepared with sewing threads in suitable colours, safety pins, assorted types of tape, pegs, pliers and everything else you can imagine...shoe polish, string, wire, ribbons…and any other conceivable item that might be needed. My kit contains some rather odd items like nipple guards, static guard and magnetic diamond earrings. Tara Sugar, Freelance Stylist and Consultant
Q. How important is hair and make-up and can this be done by a stylist? A. 11 years in this industry and I have yet to run into someone who does hair, make-up & styling.
That would be an amazing feat to tackle. We all certainly collaborate on the entire look of a shoot or project, and hair/make-up is just as imperative in the end result. Alana Kelen, Senior Fashion Stylist a - VH1
A. Hair and makeup is very important to add to the overall look of a shoot especially if it has a
particular reference. It is best to use a trained make up artist as they will be a specialist in their field and as with the Stylist will ensure that the presentation is kept up to date, individual and current. Rachel Anthony, freelance Fashion Stylist - Rachel-Anthony.com
A. The importance of hair and makeup depends on the photographer, the model, the light and the
intended results. Makeup and Hair are very very important in most cases. In some cases, not required at all, but this must be well thought through ahead of time. Makeup and Hair abilities among stylists varies greatly. I personally try to learn as much as I can and avoid doing it at all costs unless there is no better solution. I have also groomed a tree on one occasion. Tara Sugar, Freelance Stylist and Consultant
Q. Is there any other advice that you would give to someone who is trying to organise a shoot? A. Word of mouth has always been my best "press". Consult co-workers, colleagues and contacts
within the industry to obtain recommendations of people who work well under pressure and always produce amazing results. Portfolios are always fantastic examples of work, but one must be sure the stylist is responsive on set and it's best to have an idea of what their work ethic is like behind the scenes. Alana Kelen, Senior Fashion Stylist a - VH1
- Be honest - Be realistic - Be clear - Make lists - Try not to rush - Try to test things or find others who have and learn from their experience by looking at other photos
Glamour is an illusion we create for the camera - Don’t expect to live it. Tara Sugar, Freelance Stylist and Consultant
...Teneille Sorgiovanni, Freelance Makeup Artist - teneillesorgiovanni.com
Q. What is a makeup artist responsible for? A. For me, mainly it’s to create characters, build personalities that help define a narrative. Also
enhancing facial features and bringing out inner beauty that makes a person feel great, is really quite a special feeling.
Q. Where is the best place to go to find a good makeup artist and what criteria do you use to determine who is suitable for the job? A. Professional networking sites, agencies and word of mouth are the best form but it all depends on
the job. Some makeup artists specialise in particular areas in the industry say Bridal makeup or Special Effects for Film or TV. However a makeup artist should have the talent and skill to cover all areas, be creative and able to communicate well with different people, answer to a brief, solve problems and it’s important that you’re perceptive and flexible.
Q. How do you go about interpreting what the client is trying to achieve? A. After discussing with the client the concept and ideas of the overall look through a story board of
images, it is then up to the makeup artist to execute the concept into a final look. This is then given back to the client in the form of a makeup story board to demonstrate colour, mood and techniques that will be used.
Q. What research and preparation is needed before the shoot? A. Talking to the team and knowing what your model looks like, study their face and think about what
will or will not work. What type of character she will be? What is she feeling, thinking etc. Once you know what type of story it could be, it’s then time to collate your inspiration that influences your look, it’s one of my favourite parts of the process. Your influences could come from music, a piece of fabric, words, illustrations, memories and it’s all part of your independent research. You will get to work with a variety of different people on shoots that all have different ways of interpreting looks so be sure to learn how to communicate via images. This is the safest way when discussing makeup.
Q. Is there any other advice that you would give to someone who is trying to organise a shoot? A. The industry in constantly transforming so make sure you have a team of professional people on
board who you work well with. This can be hard to organise but with the determination, passion and persistence it will all come together and drive your success. It’s a love of pressure and hard work the adrenalin kicks in and when you see the final result it’s truly rewarding!
Link crushes: www.ftape.com - One of the best directories for models, photographers, designers and brands. www.makeupstore.se/eeen/home.php - Massive online store dedicated to makeup. www.lebook.com - One of the most comprehensive and current directory of the photographic industry. www.chb.com - Brilliant directory of Photographers, Illustrators, Designers, Casting services and more. www.polyvore.com - Shop the latest products and styles handpicked by a global community of trendsetters.
It’s a lot tougher and more expensive than you think. Jonathan Morss, Designer/Owner - Morsfootwear.com
Cash is King. You can be in significant profit but the business will not survive without cash. Domenica di Lieto, Commercial Director – Shinemarketing.com)
Don’t expect success to land on a plate – if it were easy it wouldn’t feel as good when it arrives. Don’t listen too hard to people telling you to change your style or the way you design. Usually that’s the last thing we suggest our clients do. Make sure you produce a product that you are proud of. Finally – stick with it. Most people don’t make any money for the first 5 years! Russell Hammond, Fashion & Luxury Management Consultant, Scaphannetwork.com
You, as a designer, are an artist. You are creating what people most want and need: To possess “venues” – your creations – that provoke an expanded sense of who they are such that they see themselves and the world in a new way. That is the function of art. Dr. Bob Deutsch, Cognitive Anthropologist – Branding & Marketing Expert
Don’t give up and keep it real. Laura Weir, Fashion Editor - Drapers
- "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." - Emile Zola - "A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire Joshua Fraser, Senior footwear designer - Puma
This book would not have been possible without the help of the many talented people who took time out of their busy schedules to contribute. I am truly greatful and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Acknowledgement: Logo silhouette - Alexander McQueen (RIP)
Ana Borges: Footwear Designer @ Jaeger London Job role: Seasoned footwear designer responsible for creating mood boards, trend forecasts and product design using both hand drawing and CAD skills. Background in both luxury and mid-market branded products. Favorite possession: My pencil Jelena Djukic: Senior Designer @ Nine West Job role: I am in charge of designing and developing the new lines (along with 3 other designers) - we present 6 lines a year. I am also in charge of all production approvals. Favorite possession: I have a little red pouch with a couple of lucky charms in it that I keep with me at all times. Jessica Good: Freelance Footwear Designer @ shoedesign.co.uk Job role: Versatile freelance footwear designer with varied experience and proven results in many different categories of footwear. Thorough understanding of the shoe trade. Happy to work on any project - both genders - from high end edgy fashion footwear, to sports specific, to kids shoes. Favorite possession: My life Jili Allen: Creative Designer @ MJM Int. & Freelance @ jiliallen.com Job role: I am responsible for Creative Marketing, including packaging, instore POS (creative content), design of web content, catalogue page layouts, brochure layouts, flyers, the Ultimo blog, all design relating to forthcoming product launches, assisting with Ultimo Couture with all layout, design packs, etc., and adverts (as and when they arise). Favorite possession: My extensive collection of books
Jonathan Morss, Owner/Footwear Designer @ morsfootwear.com Job role: Responsible for design, production, sales and marketing of casual men’s footwear brand ‘Morrs’. Previous experience includes design positions at Nike, Levi's and adidas. Favorite possession: My shoes (can I say that?) Joshua Fraser: Senior Fitness and Women's footwear designer @ Puma Job role: I am primary footwear designer for Women's Fitness, which include the Bodytrain collection. Secondly I am also Senior designer for Women's lifestyle. Favorite possession: My authentic autographed 1967 Bruce Lee Green Hornet trading card. Jristian Limsico: Art Director @ Tommy Hilfiger Job role: I’m Art Director for Tommy Hilfiger and I am Acting Creative Director for our denim brand – Hilfiger Denim. On a day to day basis this means conceptualising seasonal campaigns including global ad campaigns, showrooms, retail windows and online. Favorite possession: My iPhone 4 Louise Shill: Freelance Footwear Designer and Consultant @ shoegeek.co.uk Job role: In my current assignments, I provide footwear design and development services including: range planning, trend research, specification packs, footwear design and sample development. Favorite possession: At the moment my super stylish Clarks originals desert boot wedges, I love the masculine/famine styling. Magnus Gjoen: Designer / Product Developer @ Vivienne Westwood Job role: Development of logo's & graphics for brands tags & swing tags as well as development and design of Graphics for T-shirt Collection & denim. Favorite possession: My MacBook Pro
Maxence Dinant: Senior Menswear Designer @ Luxury Fashion Brand Job role: Assisting Head Designer to overview the design process and product development of all RTW product categories. Favorite possession: Any piece I designed for Jil Sander I managed to get a hold of.
Name: Nicole Le Grange: Footwear Designer @ LoveArtWearArt.com Job role: Freelance footwear designer and the creative director of new bespoke footwear label ‘Love Art Wear Art’. Love Art Wear Art is my own creation and is crazy hard work. Favorite possession: My 'Mexico Jesus', a bright colored, fab wooden figurine I bought at a market in Mexico. It could be a religious piece / antique / art piece, either way I loved it since the first time I laid eyes on it.
Pascal Nuzzo: Head of Design (Leather goods and Accessories) @ Temperley London Job role: Head of leather goods and accessories at Temperly, London. This role includes managing design, production and running a team. Favorite possession: My black ink pen is my every day companion for sketching, it is cheap and there is nothing special about it, it is simply an essential in my designer’s life. Saloni Sethi, Independent Fashion Professional Job role: Currently I'm an Independent fashion professional who in the past has been a designer and design director at major high-end luxury brands, doing both primary and secondary lines. Favorite possession: Lurex Marc Jacobs jacket
Jennifer Roebuck: Director of Ecommerce & Digital Marketing @ frenchconnection.com Job role: Responsible for the French Connection Group Ecommerce businesses which includes Ecommerce product buying, digital marketing, web design, operations and catalogue development Favorite possession: My MacBook Ruth Cozens: Art Director @ my-wardrobe.com Job role: I’m the Art Director at my-wardrobe.com, a luxury fashion etailer. I run a team of around 20 people comprising designers, stylists, photographers, retouchers and models. Together we’re responsible for all the visual content you see on my-wardrobe.com from editorial shoots to email newsletters. Favorite possession: A pair of antique silver earrings that were my grandmother's.
Shannon Edwards: Director @ ShopStyle Europe Job role: I run the ShopStyle business for our European countries, which currently include the UK, France and Germany. Oversee marketing, business development and market expansion. ShopStyle is a social shopping website for anyone who loves fashion, giving style-conscious consumers a place to shop all the online stores they trust, all in one place. Favorite possession: My daughters and husband
Benjamin Johnson: Web developer @ Aardvark Media Ltd Job role: Head of Support responsible for maintenance of key systems for our clients and management of the support department. Skilled in development of PHP based systems. Favorite possession: My fingers.
Laura Weir: Fashion editor @ Drapers & founder of The Fashion Bomb Daily Job role: Laura Weir started at Drapers as an intern five years ago and has worked her way up to become the magazine’s fashion editor. Laura is responsible for the magazine’s fashion content and writes, edits and builds copy for Drapers online and the magazine. Laura has interviewed the biggest names in fashion retail and regularly shares her extensive industry knowledge at Drapers’ sister event Pure London, where she speaks on the main catwalk about product and trend. Favorite possession: My new Prada Shoes to replace my original 1970s Prada raffia sandals that are past it.
Miranda Almond: Fashion Editor & Stylist @ Vogue UK Job role: Miranda Almond is a fashion editor for Vogue Uk as well as a stylist. She has worked on several covers and editorials for fashion magazines including Vogue British, Vogue and Gotham. Miranda has styled for an elite celebrity crowd including Drew Barrymore and many others.
Daniel P Dykes: Editor-in-Chief and Chairman @ Fashionising.com Job role: Editor-in-Chief and Chairman of Fashionising.com, an online publication reaching 1.6 million people. My job is to work with our editorial team to pick and curate the best fashion trends and style inspiration that's out there in the wider world, and package it up in a format that inspires our readers to further themselves. Favorite possession: Life
Guy Hipwell: Founding Editor and Creative Director @ Fashion156.com Job role: Creative Consultant working on external projects. Day-to-day editing of content for Fashion156. Conceptualising all themes of issues and creative directing of photo shoots. Most of my time is spent sourcing new designer pieces for our editorials. Externally I work as Creative Consultant advising strategies and producing campaigns for brands. Favorite possession: iPhone - with me all the time when I travel - all my family /friends / work related images are stored on their.
Karl-Edwin Guerre: Photographer/Blogger @ Swagger360.com Job role: I don't consider what I do a to be a job; it's a lifestyle. I am considered and have been called a writer, photographer, blogger and director. I like to consider myself a man working on becoming a Renaissance man. Favorite possession: I collect different items. Right now my focus is on photography, so I'll say my camera (today).
Domenica di Lieto: Commercial Director and owner @ ShineMarketing.com Job role: Domenica is the commercial Director for Shine Marketing, an eCommerce web agency specialising in upmarket brands. Domenica also has a wealth of knowledge with all things PR related! Favourite possession: My Blackberry! Russell Hammond: Retail Expert @ ScaphanNetwork.com Job role: We help independent fashion brands work smarter, increase their sales and improve their margin. We are a network of management consultants with over 15 years experience in the fashion industry and cover all aspects of the fashion business from suppliers to PR and sales to investment. Favorite possession: Work: my iphone (so many apps to make me more efficient!) pleasure: My house in France. No phone, no internet, no TV, just my Wife and I! Bliss!
Courtney Blackman: Managing Director @ forwardpr.com Job role: Courtney Blackman has held international roles in fashion and marketing before setting up Forward PR in 2004. She also sits on the Board of the Ethical Fashion Forum and the panel for Fashion Press Week. In 2006 she co-founded and launched Fashion Business Club, where she served as Co-chairman and Managing Director for 5 years. Favorite possession: A long brass necklace with a sliding box pendant that has brass insects in relief crawling across it.
Crosby Noricks: Founder & Editor @ PR Couture Job role: Crosby Noricks has more than seven years experience in fashion and consumer marketing. In 2010, Crosby was named “Blogger of the Year” at the inaugural ‘InfluenceSD’ Awards. Also launched PR Couture, an online resource that explores the ever-evolving role of public relations, marketing and social media in the fashion industry. PR Couture was named one of 25 Essential PR Blogs by PR Web (2010) and a Top 50 Niche Blog by Evan Carmichael (2009). Favorite possession: A tunic that my mom bought for herself during a summer spent in Italy when she was a teenager. She wore it as a dress. I do not.
Dr. Bob Deutsch: Cognitive Anthropologist @ brain-sells.com Job role: Cognitive Anthropologist who consults with corporations and agencies on how leading ideas take hold in a culture, on understanding the mind and mood of various publics, and on how to design compelling offerings to those audiences. Favorite possession: Whatever I own that puts me in mid-air (such as my extra-wide brimmed Fedora).
James Lightbown: Photographer @ Jameslightbown.com Job role: I've been a freelance fashion photographer for the past ten years and genuinely think I have the best job in the world. I've met some wonderful people, gained some great friends, fantastic clients and the most amazing partner from this industry.
Julia Reynolds: CEO @ Figleaves.com Job role: 27 years of retail experience, covering fashion and other products. Bricks and mortar, online ecommerce and international. A broad experience across all areas of retail, including sourcing, product design, building brands, marketing both online & above the line, IT and finance. Have worked in large corporates and VC backed business. Have run business units and an entire business at CEO level.
Katie Wade: Buyer (Womenswear Designer Brands) @ House of Fraser Job role: Buyer of womenswear designer brands - I select pieces from seasonal collections for sale in store and monitor product throughout the season. Favorite possession: A silver ring my mother designed and made for me.
Alana Kelen: Senior Fashion Stylist @ VH1 (alanakelen.com) Job role: Alana has over 10 years experience within the entertainment industry and is responsible for styling at VH1. She also works as a style consultant for many of the top entertainment channels, publications and designers including MTV, NBC, Nickelodeon, Bravo, InStyle Magazine and Michael Kors to name a few. Favorite possession: My grandmother's necklace.
Rachel Anthony: Art Direction @ EmmaGriffithsLondon.com Job role: Art Direction, Fashion Styling, Branding and Identity for individuals and corporate clients. A holistic approach to business, taking into consideration the goals and aspirations of the individual or corporate client to create an image/ brand. Favorite possession: My vintage mohair teddy with threadbare velvet paws that my great grandfather gave to me when I was born.
Tara Suga: Freelance Fashion Stylist and Business consultant @ Komodo International Job role: Freelance Fashion Stylist and Business consultant with a wide range of Fashion Brands and publications. Focused on luxury and eco/sustainable products as much and where ever possible. Strive to advance both the market and the industry's perception of waste, and worth. Firm commitment to craftsmanship and ethical manufacturing. Favorite possession: Freedom.
Teneille Sorgiovanni: Makeup Artist working @ teneillesorgiovanni.com Job Role: Makeup Artist working in Australia and London – freelance and assisting. Favorite possession: Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Primer.
Link Crush Directory
(Favorite links recommended by contributors)
www.fashionising.com/trends - The latest clothing and fashion trends from around the world. www.thefashionspot.com - Community based source of celebrity news, gossip and style trends. www.trendhunter.com - The largest community for Trends, Trend Spotting, Cool Hunting, and Innovation. www.fashionbuyeruk.blogspot.com - Essential fashion news and trend information for UK buyers. www.style.com - Covering the world of fashion, designers, models, celebrities, beauty and shopping. www.refinery29.com - Emerging fashion trends covered by experts. www.whowhatwear.com - Celebrity style, runway trends and shopping suggestions from fashion & beauty experts. www.frillr.com - Fashion trends, celebrity news, images and interviews. www.elleuk.com - Latest runway reviews, images, designer interviews, style trends and beauty. www.vogue.co.uk/Fashion - News daily, catwalk videos, backstage photos, fashion trends, interviews and more.
www.businessoffashion.com - Fashion business intelligence on emerging designers, technology and global brands. www.drapersonline.com - Fashion jobs, fashion news and the latest fashion trends & international catwalk coverage. www.wwd.com - Breaking news, comprehensive business coverage and trends - fashion, beauty and retail. www.retailminded.com - Professional blog that support retailers, wholesalers, boutiques & independent businesses. www.startupfashion.com - Comprehensive resource for emerging and established fashion professionals. www.stylesight.com - Trend forecasting service and technology tool provider. www.youngentrepreneur.com - Online forum offering advice to entrepreneurs worldwide. www.internetretailing.net - Internet Retailing analysis, insight and stimulus for Europe’s multichannel retailers.
Marketing & PR
www.prcouture.com - A good place to find out about fashion PR, fashion publicity, fashion PR agencies and firms. www.thelookbook.com - The Definitive Directory for the Fashion Industry. www.sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog - Seth Godin's riffs on marketing, respect and the ways ideas spread. www.rocketwatcher.com - A marketing blog that provides practical advice and tools for product marketers. www.fashionablymarketing.me - Brilliant blog about retail and digital media.
www.tumblr.com - A feature rich and free social blog hosting platform. www.blogspot.com - Free weblog publishing tool from Google, for sharing text, photos and video. www.copyblogger.com - A brilliant blog dedicated to explaining the various elements of producing good copy. www.technorati.com - Real-time blog search engine. www.blogsearchengine.com - Search engine and directory listings of weblogs and tools.
www.luxurysociety.com - Business network for the global luxury industry. www.fashionscollective.com - A resource focused on challenges faced by the fashion and luxury industries online. www.luxury-insider.com - Asia's leading online luxury magazine with luxury reviews and daily luxury news. www.luxist.com - Dedicated to covering the best the world has to offer on a variety of luxury and fine living topics.
www.ted.com - A small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading in the form of short videos. www.net-a-porter.com/intl/video/search.nap?search=Interviews - Interviews with designers and other creatives.
www.highsnobiety.com - A daily online lifestyle mag primarily reporting on sneakers, streetwear fashion and street art. www.hypebeast.com - Very good source of fashion news and information. www.nymag.com/daily/fashion - Daily fashion news with coverage of runway shows, trends, designers and models. www.fashiongonerogue.com - All the latest magazine covers from around the world updated daily. www.nytimes.com/pages/style/index.html - Style and fashion news from The New York Times. www.modemonline.com - A source of professional information dedicated to the fields of fashion and design.
www.Fashion156.com - Online fashion magazine that provides a celebratory platform for emerging talent. www.britishfashioncouncil.com - Supporting and promoting British fashion designers in the global marketplace.
Swagger360.blogspot.com - Image based blog for well-dressed ladies and gents from all over the world. www.jakandjil.com/blog - Another great blog focused on bringing you the best of real life fashion.
www.seaofshoes.typepad.com - Great shoe photos. www.kingdomofstyle.typepad.co.uk - A style blog relating to fashion and all things creative. www.whatkatiewore.com - Joe writes the words. Katie wears the clothes. A different outfit every day. www.fashiontoast.com - Personal style and fashion blog from southern california by blogger Rumi Neely. www.5inchandup.blogspot.com - One of my favorites - girls got style!
www.thecoolhunter.co.uk - The very best of random design inspiration from all over the globe. www.butdoesitfloat.com - An eclectic curation of aesthetic beauty. www.coutequecoute.blogspot.com - Random news on fashion, art, design and pop culture. www.goo.gl/Sk6ie - Lectures given by industry experts - a fantastic way to be inspired by very talented people. www.designboom.com/eng - Trendy design ezine with topics on art, architecture, fashion, photography and graphics. www.altamiranyc.blogspot.com - Random photos of models off duties. www.lovelypackage.com - Curating the very best packaging design.
www.fashioncareersclinic.com - Great support and career advice for new designers. www.fashionmag.com - Jobs for fashion, luxury and beauty professionals.
Designer Resources / Research
www.firstpullover.com - An informative footwear production blog dedicated to footwear professionals. www.design-seeds.com - Brilliant blog dedicated to exploring the wonderful world of colour. www.shouldiworkforfree.com - Help and advice for those considering freelance or self employment. www.creativeboom.co.uk - Online mag and free network community - aims to inspire and support creative industry. www.core77.com - Devoted global audience of industrial designers ranging from students through to seasoned pros. www.designmuseum.org - An exhibition programme captures the heart of design, architecture and fashion. www.headoverheelshistory.com - Shoe history. www.fashionmonitor.com - A good source for fashion and beauty contacts, news and events. www.ftape.com - One of the best directories for models, photographers, designers and brands.
www.thewebdesignblog.co.uk - Web design tutorials, articles, freebies, downloads, reviews and interviews. www.freewebstore.org - Create your own free ecommerce web store. www.ecommerce-templates.volusion.co.uk - Professionally designed ecommerce templates. www.order.1and1.co.uk - Hosting package, Domains and Web space & more features. www.software.toptenreviews.com - Great site for comparing software to help you build your business. www.seomoz.org - One of the most popular SEO software providers. www.uxbooth.com/blog - Articles and resources on usability, user experience and interaction design. www.useit.com - Research findings from many usability studies - one of the most popular sites on the subject!
www.linkedin.com - Find connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners.
www.shopstyle.com - Find the latest couture and fashion designers while shopping for clothes, shoes and jewellery. www.Amazon.com - Find books on any subject along with everything else under the sun. www.ebay.com - Sell your possessions if you’re serious about setting up your own business…you’ll need the money! www.oki-ni.com - Shop exclusive designer menswear at oki-ni.com. www.polyvore.com - Shop the latest products and styles handpicked by a global community of trendsetters. www.belleandboo.com - A collection of artwork from the imagination of illustrator Mandy Sutcliffe. www.makeupstore.se/eeen/home.php - Massive online store dedicated to makeup. www.notcouture.notcot.org - A sophisticated and stylish roundup of fashion's finest brands.
www.mashable.com - Social Media news blog covering cool new websites and social networks.
www.ffffound.com - Image bookmarking. www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days - One of the best online photo management and sharing sites about. www.google.co.uk/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi - Endless supply of images.
www.photographers.co.uk - Directory for UK based photographers - also offers a forum, exhibitions and more. www.vanilladays.com - Good photography blog. www.photoschau.de/index.php - Another one! www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/forums/forum.php - Photography discussion and chat - huge community! www.talkphotography.co.uk - Free photography forum, community and resource with discussion forums and chat.
www.elitemodel.com - One of the world's most prestigious international modeling agencies. www.premiermodelmanagement.com - London based agency represents women and men for editorial / runway work. www.ukmodelagencies.co.uk - Online Directory of Model Agencies in the UK. www.bmamodels.com - Model agency presents male & female models, Child & Baby Models for TV, fashion, catwalk shows. www.bookingsmodels.co.uk - Model agency est. in 1976 with good selection of female fashion and male models. www.motmodel.com - Model agency specialises in high quality commercial and fashion models for stills and TV com. www.nevsmodels.co.uk - Kings Road agency represents men & women for editorial, runway, and ad campaigns.
Trade Shows & Events
www.emapconferences.co.uk/fashionsummit - The Drapers Fashion Summit - A must see! www.theindustrylondon.com/ - Networking club bringing bright-minded, fashion business professionals together. www.ffany.org - Fashion Footwear Association - not for profit trade association for footwear manufacturers globally. www.gds-online.com - International platform for shoes and accessories. (28,000 trade visitors from 79 countries) www.lineapelle-fair.it - International exhibition dedicated to leather, accessories, components, synthetics and models. www.londonfashionweek.co.uk - Amazing platform for fashion designers to show case their creations to the world. www.micamonline.com - One of the best footwear exhibitions in the world. www.milanounica.it - Brilliant trade show for textiles. www.premierevision.com - One of the world's premier fabric show. www.prescottandmackay.co.uk/student-information/events - Offers a unique range of short courses on shoe making. www.purelondon.com - Leading trade fashion event for sourcing women and mens wear. www.thekensingtonshoeevent.co.uk - One of London’s leading events for footwear and fashion buyers.
www.ezinearticles.com - Hundreds of quality articles on many niche subjects published by expertrs. www.ipo.gov.uk/home.htm - Official government body responsible for granting Intellectual Property (IP) rights. www.businesslink.gov.uk - Self-help portal of action-focused information for SME’s. www.smarta.com - Business support and advice for start-ups, small business owners and entrepreneurs. www.businessballs.com - Free online education for ethical work, business, careers and life learning. www.lebook.com - One of the most comprehensive and current directory of the photographic industry. www.chb.com - Brilliant directory of Photographers, Illustrators, Designers, Casting services and more. www.fashioncapital.co.uk - Resources for fashion designers, manufacturers, latest fashion news, trends & jobs. www.whoistesting.com - London fashion photographers, stylists, hair and make up artists and model agencies.
Mark’s recommended reading
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki: http://goo.gl/k3Con - Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan: http://goo.gl/mei2s - Let them eat cake by Pamela N. Danziger: http://goo.gl/XulzH - The Pocket Guide to Fashion PR by Sophie Sheikh: http://goo.gl/dSpdW - Word of Mouth Marketing by Seth Godin: http://goo.gl/aOvt0 - Marketing to Women by Martha Barletta: http://goo.gl/2Mjya - Debrett's Etiquette for Girls by Fleur Britten: http://goo.gl/H2lah - Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion by Bernhard Roetzel: http://goo.gl/sSMFL - New Shoes: Contemporary Footwear Design by Sue Huey: http://goo.gl/ZX8e3 - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne: http://goo.gl/oYwpg - 365 Days of Shoes Calendar by Workman Publishing: http://goo.gl/yqx60 (Not really a ‘read’, more of a recommended ‘look’ - every shoe lover should have one!!!)
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions: email: email@example.com twitter: @tfdg_
I hope you enjoyed reading it, good luck!
by Mark Charles
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