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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Planning Your Day

Posted by on Jan 4, 2018 in Sample Room Solutions | 1 comment

Happy New Year to everyone! Did you do some planning over the break? I sure you did with a G n T in hand. No doubt you have big plans for this year and all you would like to achieve. How is that going so far???Procrastination. No one is immune.How do you ensure that your days are the most productive they can be? How do you stop yourself from stumbling frequently into social media, or hopping up to make coffee after coffee? How do you make yourself do those tasks that are less than enjoyable? The drudgery of some aspects of business means that there are often small, or sometimes (gasp) big jobs that we push to one side, deliberately ignoring them, simply because we’re too busy, or we don’t want to do it.Planning is imperative in business, and whether it’s small or large. It is important to set goals for your business, and yourself. This helps immensely in, not only your work structure but also achieving greater productivity, which essentially leads to greater profit.Just recently, we have been trying a few new methods to somehow control the madness that goes on in Sample Room. I am discovering a better way to plan out my days every day. I’d like to share a few with you now that you might find useful in your business.We have just introduced Asana to help me with planning and the giant list of tasks that need to be completed for each style we work on. If you haven’t heard of it, or if you are guilty of being easily distracted in your workday life, I encourage you to look at this program.Asana offers something for everyone. There is a free version, for very small businesses, those with up to fifteen staff. It offers a basic search function and a basic dashboard for you to navigate, as well as unlimited tasks, conversations and project options. Asana also has Premium and Enterprise versions, for which you pay a monthly amount, and thereby have access to wider options within the program.Key to planning? Learn how to schedule your priorities.Click To TweetOnce you’re signed up, you can organise your projects and break them down into manageable tasks. You can arrange due dates for each of these tasks, and have bells and whistles to bring in the reminder for those tasks. You are able to send messages to your team members. You can even assign yourself tasks such as shopping for labels, or a phone call to a fabric wholesaler. I find that when I break the tasks down into a timeframe such as ten or fifteen minutes, then I can tick more off my to-do list each day. If a task is too big, or its predicted time too big, then all too often we choose to avoid it.Asana also integrates with other platforms, such as Google...

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Off-Shore versus On-Shore Manufacturing

Posted by on Dec 14, 2017 in Manufacturer, Marketing, Sample Room Solutions | 1 comment

At Sample Room, there are many questions that we are often asked. One of those is ‘Where is the best place to have my designs manufactured?’Whether you choose off-shore or on-shore, remember that you are creating a partnership. They are considering you, just as you are considering them.Click To TweetWe don’t mind answering this question however many times it is asked of us because our job is to support you. But there is not one answer that fits all designers, all products, and all fabrics. Even if there are a number of designers who are creating similar products, there will still be more than one answer to this question. It comes down to many things, one of which is cost. How much are you prepared to pay for manufacturing, and how much can you increase your price point to cover this important part of the process?Firstly, no matter if you decide to go on or off-shore, you need to ask the right set of questions.These include:Do you work with small companies? What is your limit on production runs? Do you specialise in certain fabrics? How do you handle production flaws? What are your payment terms?If you decide to manufacture off-shore, be prepared to travel there as often as this builds trust and forms the base of a good relationship between you and your supplier. It also gives you a chance to see the factory and know the manufacturing capabilities, as well as the conditions. Be prepared for language and cultural barriers and understand that this is an area from where most mistakes germinate. Most factories have a specific person who speaks English and therefore the conduit to a perfect design. But accept that there might still be mistakes. Do your best to work within the confines of these barriers and be patient. Also, keep in mind that some countries are better equipped for manufacturing certain garments. For example, Bali is a good option for manufacturing swimwear. India manufactures excellent silks and natural fibres, and Fiji is great for sportswear and team uniforms.Some things to keep in mind when you are weighing up offshore production. You need to factor in all of these costs. You will no doubt be looking at the very attractive low manufacturing cost but the extra costs need to be included —Development costs to get a sample right (or at least the cost of freight back and forth which is approx. 8 x $100)Freight, import duty and GST (unknown until it is too late),At least one (1) visit to the factory (flights, accommodation, a week off work).There is also hiring a QC company to check your production and of course, there is faulty stock. I was told recently that some companies factor in 30% loss straight away. That means they only expect to sell 70% of what they paid for and the rest goes on sale or...

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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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Sample Room: Account Manager / Customer Service

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017 in Fashion, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

Now, prepare yourself. We are hiring!Are you a pattern maker who feels that doing tech packs for the rest of your career might be the end of you? Use your exceptional skills in a new role!We are looking for friendly experienced pattern maker ready to step into a customer facing role to help designers to create their ideas. Experience in Business to Business Account Management with small through to large business would be a huge asset.If you are someone who prides themselves on developing great relationships with their clients and has an exceptional ability to attract clients, nurture relationships, communicate design requests and close the loop on the design process then we would love to have you on our team.Location: Northern Suburbs, MelbourneWork Type: Full TimeKnow more about your tasks and...

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