Fustany.com collaborated with Bazarna Events a while back, to host a fashion industry talk which included designers, media and creatives. We all sat down to discuss the challenges designers are currently facing in Egypt and more importantly to find ways on how we can solve such challenges to build, one by one, a stronger industry.
Because we know there are more designers out there and industry insiders who couldn’t attend the talk, we decided to share with you some of the key challenges discussed at the meeting, putting in mind these challenges vary according to the stage the designer is at within their career path.
1. Country Regulations
In a country that doesn’t see the fashion industry as a strong field where they could compete in internationally, the rules and regulations they set won’t in any way have these small sized industries in mind. The quality of fabrics available here aren’t ones we can compete with to produce the desired garments, which leads us to the next issue, exporting garments is very expensive and the taxes paid for such, result in the designers having to raise their prices and hence the items they produce might be above market price for them to be able to make profit out of them. Another interesting factor mentioned during that meeting is that we don’t have a law that protects the consumer rights, if a designer hands over the garment to their client of less quality than it should be or much later than they agreed on delivering it, making it harder for clients moving forward to establish a trust with other designers they work with.
2. Creating a Union
One of the very interesting points mentioned within the talk by a furniture designer, is that within their own industry they have created a code of honor, enabling a group of furniture designers to work together within the same space, helping each other out when there’s a shortage of craftsmen, and even though they’re competing, but they’re also helping one another to push that industry to the next level.
3. Competition Shouldn’t Scare You
While some might portray competition as a threat, the ones who actually come together to exchange ideas, resources or aid one another with different challenges or business solutions will surely have a much stronger support system. In other words, designers don’t have the mindset of helping out each other, because they shy away from potential competition. Collaborating and sticking together instead, even if it has to be in forms of a union, will excel much faster than the ones who prefer the individual setup.
4. The Craftsmanship
This seems to be a big issue with all sorts of businesses, and not just the fashion industry. You find someone you trust to execute your designs, you train them and then they’re gone with the wind, which means you need to start that process all over again. Doing so will only mean wasted time and opportunities. We have witnessed a successful module for such in Lebanon, one factory that does all the production work for some of the well-known Arab accessory designers, where top notch quality is guaranteed along with the highest level of secrecy, to avoid any of the designers working with them copying the work of another.
5. Designing = Business
Now to the last and most crucial challenge they face, and this is more of a general one for most designers... Designing is a business. Meaning? It’s not a hobby and it’s not only about the garments or final product designed, it’s a full business that needs proper knowledge of designing, financials, marketing, managing a team, sales and the list goes on and on. Seeing that most designers like to focus more on the creative aspect of things, they need to be aware or have basic knowledge when it comes to the rest, to be able to fun a fully fledged and successful, not to mention a scalable business as well. Learn the basics and then move on to partnering up or working with a team who compliment your weaknesses in such areas.