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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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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Fabric and Printing

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Lifestyle, Manufacturer, Sample Room Solutions |

 Photo: Sample Room’s WorkroomAs an emerging designer, how do you know what to do to achieve the look and finish for your designs? And if you want prints or logos on the fabric, whether small or all over, which is the best way to go ahead with that? Is it easiest to purchase the type of fabric you’re after with the prints already on them? But what about your logo? How does that get printed? What if the print is a specific design in itself – which is the best way to have it printed?So many questions! So many possibilities! It can be more than enough to discourage a start-up!I am hoping that the information below will help guide you, at least with a few things to think about, although I am aware that it might confuse you more. When we work with a client, we can help guide them and answer all the questions that arise. It may be just a few key questions that narrow down the choices to the one that suits your design, brand and label.Most often, we’ve found that the answer to these questions lies with the individual designer, you may have the vision but just don’t know what it is called and how to go about the process to get the result you are looking for. It really will be dependent on how much money is at your disposal.If you are looking at adding prints to your designs, there are quite a few choices and different reasons for each choice.The type of fabric, the final use of the garment, the finish you are looking to achieve and the quantity of garments you would like to make, all have an input into the final decision you will make.For example, if the stretch of the fabric is important to the design such as sportswear then the print finish will have an effect on the stretch of the garment. Choose the wrong print and you will find the print will restrict the fit and pull, resulting in a poor finish.However, there are some rules when it comes to printing. Let’s take a quick look at some of those options.Yardage Printing This type of printing is all over the fabric and is best suited if you are designing a garment that has an even all-over design. If you are looking to design your own print or have a surface print designer to design one for you then be mindful to choose a 2 way print (can have 2 panels cut in different directions that look the same) over a 1 way print as this will give you better fabric usage, reducing your garment costs. Often a yardage print is the right choice but depending on how you print it, you might be up with a large initial outlay depending on the number of colours, the detail of...

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Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

Influencer marketing. Have you heard of it? It’s huge these days. But what is it, really? Even if you haven’t actually heard of it, or recognised the term, we reckon you’re probably aware of it.Wikipedia defines influencer marketing as a form of marketing where the focus is placed on key individuals, or one in particular, rather than the target market itself 1. It’s really the sway of one individual over others, influencing choices, purchases, and lifestyles. We already know that people buy from others that they know and trust. Influencer marketing builds on that premise and is about people buying from other people who they admire and respect, and importantly, who are seen as authentic.But how does that affect you as a person who’s about to delve into the market? At Sample Room, we think influencer marketing has the potential to impact your business and the ultimate success or failure your brand. There’s a lot of murky waters surrounding influencers, so it’s best to be well-informed. Here are a few tips for you to ponder.• You need to think about your brand, about who you want to represent it. If your brand is luxury bed linen, you need to approach someone who embodies class, all things luxe and lavish.• Do your homework before you get involved with an influencer. There’s a lot of fake influencers out there, those who are in it only for the perks. Some want to be paid for their role in promoting your brand, others are content with discounts off your merchandise. Your homework should include an understanding of the other brands that the influencer works for, to make sure they complement yours, not compete against it.• To use an agent or not to use a PR agent? An agent might provide much-needed assistance to wade through these murky waters, but it comes at a mighty cost. Can you afford the outlay of an agent’s fees for your brand? Can your brand afford not to use an agent? You alone can answer this.Influencers do speak with each other. Despite it being a huge part of the marketing world, it’s still small enough for influencers to know each other. While you’re doing your research behind influencers, before you make your pitch, make sure you tailor your request to the individual influencer. Think about why you want to work with that particular person, and what is specific about them. Don’t simply ‘copy and paste’ your requests, as it will reflect poorly on you and your brand. You can also use various apps such as Tribe and Brandsnob.• Draw up a contract. Clearly outline what you want from the influencer, and what you’ll give them in return, whether that be product or payments. This is a business relationship, not a friendship or a favour. Make sure that the influencer follows through with what they say they will do...

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Start-up Fashion Designers – Why Isn’t Your Label Going Ahead?

Start-up Fashion Designers – Why Isn’t Your Label Going Ahead?

Posted by on Jul 5, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

Why do so many new and emerging designers who have exceedingly good sketches and ideas for the latest shakeup within the industry fail?We think we might be onto the answer.At Sample Room, we have contact with many new start-ups and emerging designers. It’s part of our business to provide the education and assistance that newbies need to succeed in the industry. We’ve been involved and engrossed with all things fashion for decades so we’ve got some knowledge behind us.Sometimes the very keenness, the excitement and the utter doggedness of a new start-up can be what is standing in your way of success. For example, did you know that there is a certain language that is solely used within the industry, and if you’ve not been properly educated we can tell straight away, like click-of- the-fingers quick? You cannot fool your way into the industry. Sorry, we realise that seems a bit harsh, but it’s true. At Sample Room, we’ve blogged about this before; that the business owners and manufacturers will make up an excuse to avoid being stuck with a start-up, one who doesn’t know the language and terms that we use.A perfect example of this is a recent conversation I had with an enthusiastic start-up who did not have any experience. He believed that all he needed to do was to bring in sketches and we would provide a run of 100 garments, per size, without another question asked. As we chatted, he mentioned that he had spoken to another development house who had rebuffed him by saying it was not possible to do what he had asked. This, of course, prompted me to respond by enquiring what exactly he had asked her; he proceeded to say, ‘I want to take old ripped jeans and put a fabric colour behind it.’ This then opened a list of questions from me to clarify what he meant.Do you mean a contrast fabric?Or is it denim that you will then garment-dye?Will you need a stone wash or enzyme wash?Or will you leave the garment unwashed?Or is it the topstitch colour that is differentWill you require it to be the same softness as the rest of the garment?What is the reason for doing this? Durability?His reply? ‘I don’t know what any of those words mean.’This is the irony of a conversation about education. There are thousands of questions and literally thousands of options. It is impossible to work with a start-up unless they have some education or you will have two very frustrated and unhappy people.Businesses within the fashion industry work to very tight schedules and we simply can’t afford the time to spend going over explanations and education, explaining terms and concepts that every designer, who’s been properly educated within and of the industry should know. If you’re here at Sample Room and, as a start-up, ask a question about grading...

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