FABRIC AGENTS – how, who, where, what!?

FABRIC AGENTS – how, who, where, what!?

Posted by on Oct 2, 2018 in Emerging Designers, Established Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Manufacturer, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

As part of our Fashion Label Launchpad program we have a group call with our Mentees to discuss challenges and questions they may have. It is also a great opportunity to chat with industry, and like minded people who are in the same position as you. Who knows what next great idea or inspiration will come out of the conversation! During our August catch up there were a range of great questions (and answers!) but let’s talk about the very first one “HOW TO CONTACT FABRIC AGENTS.”The reason I am choosing this topic, is because fabric sourcing is often one of the first questions we get asked when people first approach Sample Room. It is hot on everyone’s lips to say the least. Unfortunately we will not supply you with fabric. This would be an impossible task as there are 1000’s of fabrics and I believe that fabric should inspire your design process. This is far less frustrating than choosing a fabric that you can not find locally. We will however provide guidance in where to do and if a fabric is suitable.  So; how, who, where, what!? Let’s start with WHEREYou don’t need to find someone in your local state. If you choose the right agent and communicate your needs correctly there is no reason why you can’t use an agent interstate. Most fabric companies will have a local rep so please call and find out if there is someone near you. You could search overseas as well but keep in mind the shipping charges. To begin with, try not to think about having a fabric made up just for you as the minimum order qty will be out of your reach (often 20-60 rolls). Which leads us to HOWThis is the most important part. How you approach Fabric Agents and how you communicate your needs will determine your fabric success!I recommend the first contact made is via a phone call. But before you pick up the phone be prepared.Prepare yourself by:–Creating two moodboards; one for colour and one for styling- this is important to show the agent what you need  if you don’t know the names of the fabric-Detail, very specifically, who your target market is so they understand the price point and end look.-And, how will your target market be using your garment?-You might also like to find garments that use similar fabrics so show what you like.Have this at the ready and pick up the phone. Ok, so WHAT fabric do I need?Leave this up to the Fabric Agents! They are very knowledgeable, they ARE the experts in fabric. You can have a look through the range but if you give them an idea of what you are looking for from the above list then they will be able to suggest a variety of fabrics to suit.  If you follow the previously mentioned preparation steps they will be able to...

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Q & A With Mentee Joseph Carl

Posted by on Sep 10, 2018 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Mentee, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Joseph Carl Streetwear by our mentee, Joseph CarlWe love seeing our mentees journey throughout the Launch Pad program. A lot of hard work goes into every stage of design, construction and production and it is wonderful to see their collections in their final form. Below we have a Q & A from our past mentee, Joseph Carl, we discuss the challenges, successes and the big question – Would he do it all over again???  Visit Joseph Carl. What is your range about?Joseph Carl is a high-end streetwear brand with it’s main goal of merging luxury elements with streetwear. We are inspired by trends and era’s mixing old and new, street culture, music and sporting lifestyles. Our first collection “Chapter One: The Introduction” is an introduction of the brand to the people. It is a set of limited edition high-end streetwear basics that can be worn all together or separately and be styled formally or casually.Who is it for?It is a menswear brand but the brand is suited for anyone (male or female) who have an appreciation for street culture and luxury.What did you do for a career before you started your label?Before I started Joseph Carl, I was studying a university degree and graduated with a Bachelor of Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations, while working part-time for a media company.What is the biggest thing you learnt whilst working through the development process.There have been so many things I have learnt while starting this label. It’s been a massive learning experience. Stepping into this industry with no fashion related experience the whole development process has been a massive eye opener. I didn’t realise how much it took to create a single garment. Fabric knowledge, Sampling stages and garment construction, and dealing with people in business and the fashion industry are the biggest areas in which I’ve learnt the most.What would you do differently if you did it all over again?Time management is something that I would work on in the future. focusing your time (hours/days) on certain sections of the brand/business to really be able to excel in all areas. If this is achieved in future collections, it will be a smoother ride.How can people buy your product?People are able to purchase items through our online store at: www.josephcarl.comWhat is some advice you would give someone else looking to start a label?My advice to anyone starting is to do your research. Know exactly who you want to target and what short and long term goals you want to achieve. Once you have this you have drive to achieve the things you want.Another piece of advice is to be able to think on your feet, not everything is going to go to plan. Be able to think quickly and have a solution to problems that you didn’t think you would...

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Seasonality in Design

Posted by on Nov 1, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

Are you someone who’s ready to jump into the fashion industry? Are you an aspiring creative? Maybe you have a business that is linked to the industry, or you create gorgeous designs. You know you’ve got style, the eye for detail and the ambition that is needed to drive success. But there’s still so much within the industry that eludes you. Maybe you are already in the design stage and ready to choose the gorgeous fabrics that you’ve imagined for your designs. Maybe you don’t know how to approach a fabric supplier.There is a bit more to seeing a fabric supplier than you might imagine. Let me explain. A fabric agent is a trendsetter the same as a designer is. They are ‘designing’ their range in the same way a top design house does. They look to future trends in colour pallets and fabrication from the leading authorities and design the range of base fabrics and colours so that when you, the designer, come to see them they have what you have been inspired by. They understand what fabrics they need to have on hand so that you can design the look you are after.There are also 2 major different ranges they hold. One is stock fabric and one is seasonal. Did you know about the seasonal aspect behind fabric selection? If you are looking for the latest in fabrics and colours you will be looking for seasonal stock. This stock is limited and will not repeat so the fabric agent can bring the latest and greatest to their range each season. You will need to be quick from initial sampling to purchasing bulk as this fabric sells out and does not repeat. You can put a hold on the amount of fabric you need, but only for a short time. I can tell that some of you might be nodding your head because you have experienced this, but believe me when I tell you that there are plenty of people out there who aren’t aware. I feel that seasonal fabric buying is best left to the experts who understand the pace of the fashion industry and their customer requirements.There is also forecasting of fabrics. For example, when Melbourne is in the heart of winter and you look out the window of the tram in the city, you see the teeming rain and bleak greyness. You also glimpse people moving around – under umbrellas or running for cover – dressed in the chic style of winter: scarves, boots, hats and coats. Understand that designers are way past that season. The colours you are looking at today were selected a year ago and have come and gone from the fabric agents. Designers are beginning to sell summer stock to buyers and retailers for a full year ahead and they are delivering summer stock into retail stores that they first saw...

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The Initial Design Meeting

Posted by on Oct 27, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Industry Know How, Manufacturer, Mentee, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

When you first start your label it is a really exciting time. You have every right to feel proud and eager. But, you may also feel apprehension too. This is normal. You will have a lot of questions; this is normal too.One of the most common questions we hear from start-ups is ‘What do I bring to my design meeting?’ and ‘How do I explain what I want?’ Well, at Sample Room, we can help answer these questions no matter who you work with, as well as alleviate any concerns you may have.The initial design meeting is the most important stage in development. It is not something to be rushed and there is a certain process that is needed to get all your ideas out of your head and mouth in a way that explains it to a pattern maker to create your vision. It is your chance to unload everything to us.Your worries, your ideas, everything. This meeting is about anything you choose; it’s all about you, your designs and dreams, your budget, and your questions. It’s a good idea in the weeks and days leading up to the meeting to jot down some of the issues you’d like to go over. Write down all your questions, note the choices of fabrics that you’re thinking of using for your garments, bring in garments to show fit, make or fabric, bring in swatches, and tear out pics from magazines. You can use this meeting to simply have a chat with us; to bring forth the ideas that are presently buried within. We understand that ideas have to germinate in your brain; equally, we understand that an idea will stay as just that until you talk it over with someone.The best advice we can give you, however, in preparing for the design meeting, is to make sure you know your customer. This is so important, we can’t stress it enough. You need to have researched every aspect about your customer, you need to have invested time and energy into them. If you’re about to launch a label, you have to know that person is out there to buy it. It’s no use creating cycle wear for women who wear Size 16 and over if you’ve not done the research to show that such a product will sell. Likewise, if you are designing quality work-wear for the professional woman, make sure you understand everything about her. What is her age bracket? What is her salary range? Is she a working mum, or is she child-free? What movies does she like to watch? What are her hobbies?Does she do yoga, or is she a marathon runner? Know the other brands that your customer purchases. Have a clear picture in mind, so that you are well-placed to succeed in launching. Reach out to your customer, get their feedback, and make conversations and connections.Why...

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Customisation versus Bespoke

Customisation versus Bespoke

Posted by on Aug 9, 2017 in Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 2 comments

The fashion industry is always moving. It’s the ethos behind it, really. Fashion moves us, shakes us, tempts us and encourages us to try something new.The latest disrupter to our world in fashion is known as customisation.It’s happening all over the fashion world: with handbags, shoes and clothing! It is also happening with consumer goods as well—do you remember Coca-Cola selling bottles with your name on it, as did Nutella? That’s all part of customisation.There are a number of factors behind the increase in customisation. Creating a point of difference in a tough retail market can give your brand exposure and create a successful profitable business. One highly positive way to view customisation is the pinnacle of customer service. It makes your customer feel special. You are able to give them something that no one else can.It’s exciting and interesting. But also very tricky for a start-up. Customisation can be quite cost-prohibitive for a start-up. Perhaps if you are lucky to have partners or investors, you can dabble in this latest trend, but generally speaking, it makes for headaches for you, the designer, and your manufacturer. It is important to understand the difference between Customisation, Made to order and Bespoke (or made to measure).Customisation is the first level of making something individual. It is where the customer gets to personalise their product. If you’re designing a T-shirt, your customer, through customisation, can request to have a short sleeve T-shirt, instead of the long-sleeve tee you’ve designed. Or, request for their own initials to be placed on the front pocket or a split where a seam would normally go. Of course, you want to give your customer enough choice in details to make it individual while keeping within the parameters of what is capable. What do I mean by this? To understand the parameters it is important to understand the basic economics of mass production (by mass I mean more than one garment).The price of these products is determined by the cost of making the product (fabrics, trims and make costs) plus margin, plus mark up to wholesale and then the retail mark up.In order to keep within a reasonable price-point, you must keep the initial cost of fabric and production as low as possible. The way to do this is through bulk production. We start this process by creating a production marker (laying the pattern pieces on the fabric in the most cost effective way. This allows for greater than 75% usage of the fabric which is very high) you then lay fabric on top of each other in multiple lays, sometimes 100 lays, to reduce the time to cut each garment (this is called bulk cutting). Garments are then sewn in a production line of a few machinists all working on their individual machines at the same time to utilise machinery and time. Economies of scale reduce the...

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What is a Toile?

What is a Toile?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

Photo: Actual Toile Fitting in Sample RoomThere are many tricks of the trade within any industry. Certainly, within the fashion industry, one such trick is a toile. But what is it, exactly?A toile is a word, derived from the French language, which describes a mock-up of your design. It is an early version of a garment, made of a cheaper, but similar fabric, to test and perfect the design. You can see how important this is to the industry, and also you, as the designer. It is in this toile that a designer can see if the garment is going to sing or sink. It is a necessary step and will assist in avoiding wasting money on sampling that will otherwise fail. I like to call it a quick and dirty version of your design.When it comes to a toile, it is essential to use a fabric that is similar to the one you will use for your garments. If your design is made from a heavy and stiff fabric, then find something cheap and similar to this. If you’re going for a drapey, slinky and lightweight feel, then yes, do the same: find something close to this, but much cheaper and use for your toile.In addition to being a similar weight and feel to your actual fabric, the fabric for a toile should be light in colour, so that you can use tailor’s chalk to mark out where changes need to be made. Here is where you get to test the design lines, and the fit of the garment. You can make markings on the toile and see if a lower V neckline will suit better than the round neck that you initially sketched. The toile will guide you to add darts, or lengthen the hemline, or if cap sleeves will fit better than a three-quarter sleeve.The toile is your important chance to play with your design.Once you’ve made the changes to the toile, then translate them back to your pattern. If you’ve had to cinch in areas on the toile where there was too much fabric, or if you’ve had to loosen where the toile showed pulling and stretching, translate these into your pattern. You might even choose to make a second toile if you’ve made a lot of changes.We prefer to start with a toile. There is nothing worse than making a garment up with topstitching, pockets, overlocking and lining only to find out the shape is not right. It really is a waste of money. A toile costs approx half the cost of a sample if not less. Therefore this is valuable money wasted. I much prefer that we get the shape, length and placement of key measurements right first before creating the final garment.Another option is the make the toile in the final sample fabric but only make it to a toile standard. We call this a...

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