July 10, 2012 12:00 AM | by Amira Azzouz
Secrets to Becoming a Successful Fashion Designer
It's a competitive market, moves super fast, and you're still up for the challenge to draw your own path towards being a successful fashion designer. Well, we have to warn you it's not easy, but it's doable as long as you have the will, the power and these sets of secrets, we have combined through our continuous work with fashion designers both in the Middle East and abroad. And now we're ready to share some of these secrets, but the question is, are you ready to hear and apply them?
Know exactly what you want to do, your own style, clientele and which voice and type of designs you'll be going for, and more importantly do it with your own creativity. It's hard enough to be a designer who has skills, talents and outstanding quality, but then you see another unimaginative wannabe designer copy your work and get the credit for it. Well, we've seen that happen so many times in front of our eyes. What should you do about it? Getting angry doesn't do the trick here. But if you get even more determined to continue going your own path, then believe us, there's no way the person who's copying you will keep up, because you'll always be one step ahead. With good PR and marketing of your brand, one day after the other people will start realizing who's in it because of the passion, and who's in it for the fame.
Be social, but in your very own way. Meaning you need to have your own voice and branding on social media platforms. It’s not enough to have a fanpage or an account on Twitter, but it’s how you run them that make all the difference. Let’s take Oscar de la Renta as an example, although we think they should have added a more appealing cover photo to their fanpage, but everything else on there is perfect. Starting with the customized tabs, the fanpage picture and more importantly the content. They give you sneak peeks of the show, daily images of the office and Oscar de la Renta himself, his PR girl wearing some of the most coveted pieces…etc
You don’t always have to promote your work directly, that’s certainly not the key to success. Be active on the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and run your own blog on your website. Make sure to vary the content between promotional and personal. You need to let your fans know more about yourself as a designer, your interests, inspirations, the process of the design and what you’ve been up to. Use your Twitter account to share the latest news and what you’re up to on there, Instagram to take daily pictures of what’s going on in your interesting life and with your designs, and sync it with Twitter to get more followers. Pinterest to share your designs and have more people pin it, and also to share your own personal inspiration of images you like. It’s also a good idea to sync it with Twitter. Keep your blog for the more personal material, like where you’ve been, what you’re currently up to, and of course push in your brand in the process smoothly. As for your Facebook page, it’s the place where you need to share everything on there; images from Instagram, your latest blog posts, images from Pinterest, your own collection, events you’ve been part of, press clippings, sneak peeks…etc. But don’t make the mistake of having your tweets appear on your Facebook page, because then it would just be too boring for your fans and they might Unlike the page.
Think about it that way, people love Louboutin as a brand, but they equally love Christian Louboutin the person behind the brand. Does that push the sales and publicity? Yes, it does! So start getting active and push the boundaries.
A SOLID PLAN
Going on without a plan can be one of the most dangerous things for a business, or for that matter a brand. Even if it's all in your head, you need to sit down, lay it all out on a paper and figure out where you want to be in the next year, and five years from now. Plan ahead of seasons, in order not to approach stores and boutiques later than their buying season. And please do understand that each collection needs to be ready one season in advance for the orders, not have the Spring/Summer2012 ready to be revealed the day Spring starts! That's a common mistake we see lots of designers committing here in the Middle East.
GIFT THE RIGHT PEOPLE
You know an influential IT girl, or an Editor of one of your favorite magazines? Then make sure you always give them sneak peeks of the collection to be launched, not just that, but a gift from the collection. If they’re seen spotted in it, and with the right marketing and PR, you’ll be able to create a buzz around it and have much more people wanting to own that piece.
Know how to describe your brand in one sentence and what makes you different, because you'll need that skill when meeting new people in events. Don't be afraid to show off your designs, whether you’re personally wearing them or a friend is. Never get tired of jumping to an opportunity to introduce yourself to someone and even if it's via email, especially if it’s someone influential to your brand, like an Editor, Blogger or Buyer. Networking is the key!
EVENTS & COMPETITIONS
It’s important to be part of events and exhibitions whether it’s in the region or abroad. It’s a good way to get your name out there, and especially since the visitors are potential clients who would put a face to the name, which helps a lot. Additionally, attendees will include press and buyers as well, and you wouldn’t want to miss on such a chance. It’s also a great to use it for press releases and social media, let your fans know about your preparations, sneak peeks of the pieces to be part of the event and what actually went on. Competitions are also a great way to get more fans, and generally more people talking about your brand. Whatever the competition is, you just need to know your audiences’ interest and do something relevant to it, for it to actually be beneficial.
Collaborations are essential for creating the right kind of buzz for your brand, but make sure you associate yourself with the right kind of people. If you think collaborating with a designer who has similar goal and designs would be a conflict of interest, then how about going for something slightly different; like a jewellery designer with a handbag designer, or a prêt a porter designer with a shoe designer. The secret word here is Limited Edition. People go crazy over that word, and it makes them want those pieces even more. You have to PR your way through such a collaboration, spread the word and have the most influential magazines and bloggers speak about it. A launch event would also be beneficial, even if it’s on low budget, but that’s the good thing about creativity, if you have it there’s so much you can do with simple things to make it an unforgettable event.
DO IT DIFFERENTLY
Everything needs to be done your own way, starting from the logo, the branding, the tone you’d like to use, how you customize social media, the press releases and of course the designs. How you display your designs is also equally important. There’s of course the Lookbook for the buyers’ orders, where you’ll need a good model, a white background and good styling. But there’s also the photoshoot, which needs CREATIVITY. It’s easy to copy, but then you lost your own voice and approach to things. Build a story and a unique concept for the photoshoot, because if it’s appealing, everyone would love to see it and share it, and they’ll wait from season to the other to see what you’ve prepared for them. Behind the scenes or sneak peek videos are also a must, so be prepared to get your video camera with you on set.
Taking a lot of work will only kill creativity and energy. Make sure to delegate tasks, to keep moving forward instead of staying still, and having a great team is the key to success. If you’re still a young up-and-coming designer, then speak to one of your friends who’s good at PR or marketing, or who’s a hard worker and can help you on their free time.
When speaking to the press, make it personal, build a strong connection with them, because they have the ability to make you shine if you already have what it takes. Make sure to share the news in a more casual way rather than just sending press releases. We're not saying press releases are a no; on the contrary they're a must. But let's take two designers as an example, we'll call them X and Y, because we wouldn’t like to reveal names. X always sends in press releases, is very formal when reporting on the latest news and has a title of “For Immediate Release” and just asks us to publish them, so they go onto the pile of emails we receive on a daily basis. It's the normal approach and everyone else does it in the industry.
However makes it personal and fun. Y sends in the latest news to share with us the excitement of what the brand has achieved, and of course along images and the press release. She/He gives exclusive sneak peeks, or asks us over for tea to check out the latest creations. Get the difference?