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

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 different
Will 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 or weights of fabric, we’re going to guide you directly to our Fashion Label Launchpad program. Within that program, there are videos that explain the grading system, there are sessions on weights of fabric; it contains all you need to know. We can’t really go ahead with your label, continue to work with you if, as a designer, you don’t have this knowledge already embedded.

These kinds of questions take the time to answer. You might think all that’s required for a response is a quick, off the cuff answer. But there’s much more at stake. Sample Room does not have the intimate knowledge of your range, we don’t know your brand, your competitors, your product range – and that is what is at stake. Your label, your money. The wrong answer costs a remarkable amount. The success and failure of your brand rides on this question.

Sample Room provides newcomers to the fashion industry with everything that they need to become educated. We provide, through Fashion Label Launchpad, structured and specific learning for the newcomer to succeed as a designer. It includes everything, such as the importance of building a customer profile, knowing the fabric composition, the easing required, even down to the washing requirements for the garment. This is all imperative to the success of your label.

We don’t want you to sink. We want to work with you and make you a success.

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