How to be a successful fashion designer in 2016

As an industry expert it’s been a blessing to watch the fashion industry and fashion consumer market evolve over the last decade. There are thousands of young talented fashion designers that are on the cusp of graduating this year and will be moving forward into today’s fashion industry. These bright young individuals are full of life and energy in which some will inevitably become movers and shakers in the industry.

Unlike the days of their predecessors, these breed of designers are going to be more vicious, innovative and successful thanks to powerful tools that are at their disposal aka TECHNOLOGY. These designers don’t need huge capital, don’t need middle men (retailers), don’t need huge marketing budgets, don’t need physical stores scattered across the globe, don’t need to hire thousands of employees and the list goes on and on.

Here are 10 essential steps to being a successful fashion designer:

1. Have Talent: This is not a necessary but sufficient condition. In a saturated market like the fashion market you need to continuously be on your A-game if you want heads to turn when people see your product or stand out from the crowd.

2. Do Your Research: When you know the beast you are fighting the pain is more bearable and less shocking because the fashion industry is not for the faint of heart but not bloody either. Study the different aspects of the fashion industry right from the almighty haute couture right down to casual wear (Couture, Casual, Lingerie, Sportswear, Footwear, Accessories, Streetwear). Study the roles each aspect plays in the fashion market and how important they are.

3. Pick Your Beast: After doing your homework decide which beast you would like to tackle first cause God knows you don’t have what it takes to tackle them all at the same time. If you can, then we need to be friends ASAP.

4. Make Industry Friends: As huge as the fashion industry is, trust me when I say everyone knows everyone. You just need to have a few people whom you have a genuine connection with and the rest will fall into place. The purpose of these people is to keep you up to date with what is going on and support you along the way to realizing your goals.

5. Find A Home: Look for the closest fashion incubator and be part of it. They will give you access to a lot of connections in terms of sourcing materials, manufacturers, industry experts/mentors, grant funding and more. You can also use this avenue to make friends because majority of the people at fashion incubators have the same drive and passion as you (Eg Fashion zone, CFE, CFDA ).

6. Work Work Work: Get into your room, studio or cave and get busy. Do what you were born to do and turn those designs in your head into a reality. Make prototypes and take pictures of them cause you are going to need them for number 7.

7. Validate Your Work: You have spent hours creating your masterpiece, now it is time to test the waters of the marketplace to confirm your masterpiece is indeed a masterpiece. Upload your pictures to Style Minions and share your masterpiece with your friends and industry experts to know if they would wear it, buy it or pre-order it. When your friends give you their feedback you will know if the product will be a hit or miss and how many you could potentially sell. You can also acquire pre-order sales before you launch which is the best indicator of success for a particular product or collection. Nothing feels sweeter than people immediately throwing their hard earned money at you to be first in line to get their hands on your work.

8. Define Your Brand: This is the fun part. You are going to have to give your brand an identity and it can be whatever you want it to be. Think of it as being the promise you are making to the consumer market and yourself. This will make you stand out the most in the marketplace, and will make your customers loyal to you as long as you keep that promise. Make it simple, clear and stick to it.

9. Build An E-commerce Website: Congratulations you have discovered your collection will be a hit and you are ready to start reaping the rewards of those sleepless nights. Get an E-commerce website for dirt cheap (Shopify, Bigcartel, etc), buy a sexy theme for $100 max and set it up all by yourself without learning how to code.

10. Build A Kickass Team: Think of this as the icing on the cake. You are going to need people you can trust to help you build your vision. If you have trust issues now is the time to face it and get over it. You cannot do it all on your own. Just make sure that there is no weak link in your team and if there is cut it off ASAP.

If you made it this far then you are on the right path. Now go forth and be great 🙂