Honing Inspiration & Defining Your Customer; what does it mean and where do we start?!

Honing Inspiration & Defining Your Customer; what does it mean and where do we start?!

Posted by on Nov 5, 2018 in Emerging Designers, Established Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Manufacturer, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

From paper to production, there are SO many factors to consider in bringing a design to life. But after meticulously stewing over fabrics and hemlines for months on end, who is going to be wearing your garments?! And what needs do they have? As part of our Fashion Label Launch Pad program, our group of mentees hold a monthly phone call to discuss queries and roadblocks as they work towards launching their first fashion labels. During our call this month we chatted all things sourcing inspiration and how to tailor your brand to suit the people purchasing your product. With what can be such a tricky task, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind for the designer carving out the personality of their brand. INSPIRATION As a creative, inspiration is all around us. Everywhere we look there is a new idea waiting to be thought up, designed and created into something wonderful. In the beginning stages of design, observing the spaces around us and collating stimulus for later reference can be invaluable. But inspiration can be unpredictable and we might not always be prepared for when our light-bulb moments hit. So, below are a few tools we love that you can use to immediately house your sources of inspiration when they come to mind. All of which are easily-accessible apps you can instantly download to your phone! These will also become valuable platforms you can use to assist in determining your customer.Trello Whether you have a more left-leaning analytic brain or a visual mind, Trello acts as a project management application where you can jot down those fleeting thoughts in list form. It’s super easy to categorise with labels, throw in screenshots and cue in whoever you want to check over your ideas. Check out how it works here > https://trello.com/tourPinterest You may have used Pinterest already, but what a great tool for the visual mind it is! Here you can create mood boards, collate photos and combine an endless amount of stimulus that might take your fancy. The perfect tool to assist you to formulate the overall feel of your collection. Check it out here > https://business.pinterest.com/en/how-pinterest-works DEFINING YOUR CUSTOMER In using these platforms you’re off to an excellent start. Now it might be a little easier to visualise an overview of what you want your label to represent – encompassing mood and overall feel. You may have numerous categories and ideas representing different ends of the spectrum and this is great!However, in determining who you’re creating for and who will be purchasing your product, we have to get down to the nitty gritty and be specific. Ideally, we want to create 2-3 profiles or ‘personas’ to match the looks sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum. Eg. If customer A loves to wear rich, colourful prints and customer B wears monochromatic tones and tailored fits;...

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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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Organise Yourself

Organise Yourself

Posted by on Nov 24, 2017 in Industry Know How | 0 comments

When emerging designers come to Sample Room and join our mentoring program, Fashion Label Launchpad, we understand that they can all be at different stages of their design cycle. This is because the program runs for six months but the start of that program is up to the individual.However, the nature of being in business for over ten years gives us some experience which we can offer to you in the form of guidance, no matter where you are in your design or manufacturing journey. Advice is a form of nostalgia; looking back over any career there are areas in which you can see where something could have been done better. One such area is to better organise yourself and, therefore your time, and your business.In our digital world, it is now easier than ever before to keep track of your work and social life. Google alone has much on offer to assist in this area. Use Google’s Calendar to plan events and set up reminders for future happenings that you are interested in attending, even if they’re in twelve months’ time. By the time the Melbourne Fashion Festival rolls around or your favourite marathon, you’ll be organised, prepared and good to go.Google Alerts will help you to find businesses that are similar to yours. Enter keywords that will highlight exactly what you’re after: articles, newsletters, competitions, websites and journals. You can set up how often, and from where, these alerts come to you: on a weekly or daily basis. Save those that are most interesting to you to read through at your leisure. When you’re ready to start your press for your brands, you can use snippets from these articles and emails to guide and assist you. It’s always much easier to duplicate and borrow what someone else has done; there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.The secret to a successful fashion label is to Organise Yourself. The right tools are the key to fashion label success.Click To TweetIf you’re in the very early stages of your design and branding, do an online marketing and media course. There are courses that specialise in the different aspects of social media whether it is Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook Ads or Copywriting. This will help you to reach out to your customers through social media. Find businesses on social media that are similar to yours, and reach out to them with thoughtful comments. Look at their own followers’ sites and comment and like those as well. This will build your customer base as well as effectively shape collaboration with other designers (see our posts on Social Media Platforms here and Influencer Marketing here).Find a way to entice your future customers to your mailing list through blog posts, special interest stories or basically asking people if they would like to know more once you have launched your label.The aim is to build your...

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Working on Shoots

Posted by on Nov 15, 2017 in Industry Know How | 0 comments

When most people think about fashion, the development very quickly leaps from drawing a picture to a full-blown photo shoot. By now, if you have read any of these blogs you will understand there is a whole lot of complicated work that goes on in between. But today we would like to discuss the planning of the photo shoot so that when you get there you are as prepared as possible to make the best use of the time and money you are spending on this day.This step in your design career is more like a leap, especially if you’ve never broached this arena before. Yes, we’re talking about working with photographers and models. It sounds scary, and if you’re unprepared, or even under-prepared, it can be. But it doesn’t have to be! At Sample Room, we’ve got a few suggestions for making it smooth, well…how about luxuriously smooth silk?1. Work out your budget. Money. It’s always the primary thought, have you noticed? It’s so true though, everything hinges on affordability. If you can afford to pay for Cindy Crawford (who? I hear the millennials ask) to be the model on your shoot for your luxury lingerie brand, by all means, make contact and if she’s available, use her. But if you’ve only got a budget of $200 for models then don’t waste your time on Ms Crawford. Keep in mind that a small budget doesn’t mean your brand can’t get high-quality photos and exposure, though. Which brings us to our next point…2. Choosing your photographer. This is so important, we can’t stress it enough. Often the photographer can guide you, if it’s your first professional shoot, and help with a selection of models. Photographers can be really fussy, perfectionists about their work, which is a good thing, because once you’ve got the ONE, you know you’re in good, reliable and trustworthy hands. Have a look at their style, Instagram is a perfect place to start this process.3. If you are choosing your own model, remember there are places out there on the internet that can help you. Melbourne Last Minute Models and Melbourne Creative are private groups through Facebook which you can join. Simply provide all the details you need and BOOM! before you know it you’re hooked up with a model for your shoot. This is a time for you to be highly specific – there’s no need to worry about sounding racist when asking for a model. If you are after a model with dark skin and a huge afro, here is where you put it out there. If you want a redheaded, voluptuous woman, again, you ask and you get what you want. Let them know eye colour, hair colour, skin colour, dress size, EVERYTHING.It’s all about the right model for your brand, so don’t be shy. The more specific you are, the more on point...

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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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