Sustainability in Fashion

Sustainability in Fashion

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Fashion, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

The fashion industry has not always been known for its kindness to the environment. Furs, anyone? Dyes that are high in toxicity? Sweat shops? But in today’s world, you’ll hear the term sustainability in all areas, and the fashion industry is no exception. Customers are concerned, and rightly so, about the impact fashion has on the world around us. Customers are savvy, they’re aware of the landfill and contributions to this from old clothing, fabrics and materials.But what does sustainability look like in fashion? What does it mean exactly? Well, there is no one specific explanation, so let’s take a look at some of the terms it can refer to.Fabrics & Materials It can be as simple as the fabrics used in a garment. Organic cotton, naturally processed wools, and low-impact dyes, all contribute to the sustainability tag for your design. Natural fibres, organic production, recycled fibres and job lot end of run fabrics all relate to sustainability as they all have less of an impact on the environment.Slow-fashion This term is used to describe the care and time taken to ensure the longevity of the garment. This can be achieved by creating a timeless classic with natural and durable fabrics; it can be done by ensuring the materials used can be recycled. Your customer is more likely to hold onto the garment for more than one season if they feel an emotional connection to it. The way you can help to create this connection is to be transparent with your customer, by noting your production and manufacturing processes. If your customer can see the process behind the garment, then they will feel a greater link with you as its designer.Reuse This is similar to recycled and upcycled fabrics, as they, too, are being reused. But there are other ways that you can offer to reuse your garments, to increase your sustainability focus. You can, for example, create a buy-back option: when your customer has finished with the garment, you buy it back to create something new. Alternatively, you can offer a percentage off their next purchase if they donate the original garment once they’ve outgrown it. Or why not set up a forum where people can buy, sell and swap with other fans of your garments.Marketing The way you market yourself and your brand goes a long way in speaking of your efforts in the sustainable fashion. Make sure your labels are clear and your customer understands them as this is one of the ways the sustainable fashion message is passed along. As noted above, be transparent with your customer, give them a chance to get to know you, the designer, as well as your brand. At Sample Room, we believe that marketing yourself begins long before your begin your designs (read our blog post on Marketing here *insert hyperlink*) and creates the connection that you need with...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Which Social Media Platforms Should Your Business Use?

Which Social Media Platforms Should Your Business Use?

Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

 Social media is prolific. It almost seems there are new sites, new platforms springing up nearly every week. There’s so much choice out there. How do you, as a fledgeling business, know which ones to use? Which ones generate the most traffic? Which sites should you set yourself up with?Here at Sample Room, we think, along with most things, that it comes down to your business, your brand and importantly, your customer. If you’ve done your research about your target market, then you know who your customer is. You know who you’re selling to. And that means, you know which social media sites are going to get you the most exposure that will benefit your brand. Ultimately, that will translate into more business dollars.But, let’s be honest, there are some sites that generate exposure more so than others. There are social media sites that are good for businesses and there are ones for, well…um…social linkages, to phrase it in the nicest possible way.So, firstly, let’s talk about Instagram. If you’ve got your brand ready to launch, if you’re looking to widen your exposure to your target market, then get yourself a business account on Instagram.There are many ways for you to increase your followers on Instagram.Be strategic about who you follow: make a list of the brands that identify with yours the most, including the reasons why, and follow them.Make interesting comments on those sites; comments of ‘geez, cool’ aren’t going to generate interest in your brand. Be thoughtful, interesting and funny in your comments. That is what will lead others to your site and they become your new followers.Look into ways to streamline your posts so that it’s more time effective. Let’s face it, nobody, except for teenagers avoiding homework, has time to endlessly skulk through Instagram to create posts and make thoughtful, engaging comments. Look into the various apps that can schedule posts. Canva helps you do all your posts and allows you to set up schedules for posts – and it’s free too! If you haven’t already heard of it or started using it, get onto it! Similarly, Schedugram is another useful tool for scheduling, posting, hashtags and all things related to Instagram. It’s not free – keep that mind.Hashtags! Not so long ago, most of the world assumed that hashtags were useless. Not so. Using the right hashtags can help you expose your brand. Have a clear strategy in place for your use of them. Do your research and discover which hashtags your followers are using most, and which ones are most active. Use them. You can also use those active hashtags to search for other posts that use those same hashtags.Once you’ve found some that you identify with and aligns nicely with your brand, then start commenting.Pinterest is another high traffic social media site that we suggest you think of for your brand exposure....

Read More

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...

Read More

Start-ups In The Fashion Industry: Why It Sometimes All Goes Awry?

Posted by on Jun 28, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

Photo Credits: Laura CallaghanHere at Sample Room, we’re extremely fortunate to be a well-known supplier, educator and consulting business within the fashion industry. Our website and online presence is highly visible. Our phones ring constantly. And this is what we want. We’re a business, so we want customers. We are more than happy to work with new and emerging designers, because we’ve developed a proven method that assists newcomers with the education they need in order to be a success and not waste precious time and money. We see a lot of start-ups contact us to make enquiries about launching their brand. They are excited, and rightly so; they’ve produced fabulous designs, and they are chomping at the bit to get out there. They know what they’ve created is going to take off, it’s going to be the NEXT BIG THING. So, sometimes, sadly, we see their excitement prevents them from listening to expertise, the company with the industry knowledge, the know-how and the advice to help them.Within the industry, what a lot of start-ups don’t realise is that there is a language, specific to the fashion industry. We can tell straight away if someone is attempting to bluff us with a few key words, to try to make themselves sound ‘legit’ to get through the gatekeeper. We are able to tell pretty much if they know what they are doing, and equally, if they don’t.What we also know, is that sometimes, manufacturers and suppliers will invent reasons not to work with start-ups. We saw this very recently here at Sample Room, when a business owner told a newcomer that they didn’t have any availability to help them until 2018. We know that is most likely a furphy: the business owner picked up straight away that this new designer had no experience and put them off, knowing all the time and resources it would take to work with someone who’s green.This may seem a little harsh, so I would like to explain why we have made this decision. It is hard to explain to someone who has not studied fashion or worked in the industry just how much information they need to know to successfully develop a range of clothes. Every person you speak to along the development and manufacturing process will ask you technical questions that only you can answer. So often we are asked for just a pattern and sample. It is not until you are in the thick of development, that you realise it is your responsibility to supply fabric and trims suitable to the style, explanations of price point and how you wish the garment to be finished. It is your responsibility to provide clear instructions on grading, markers and ratios, as well as many other questions in order to successfully reach your launch day. On the flip side the fashion industry is not a...

Read More