What every retailer wished you knew before you tried to sell to them.

I know I am in a pretty lucky position. I get to meet hundreds of amazing creative business owners with a wide variety of work history and skills. Every now and then a client comes to us for an initial meeting and they have a skill from a previous ‘life’ that I don’t have, and so I ask away. Today was one such meeting.

I had a great meeting with Glenda. Glenda used to be a retailer before moving into her own range of soft furnishings and is now looking to make the move back to fashion. It was lovely to meet her and to chat about the way the fashion industry used to be in the 80’s.


I delved into the world of retailers with Glenda to test and confirm some of my own beliefs around range planning. Lately we have had a number of young designers wanting to just make a shirt. Just one shirt. I have my own beliefs around why this is not a good idea but I was interested in Glenda’s point of view.

Back in the 80’s/90’s Glenda had a very successful boutique selling some very well-known Australian labels. They produced great ranges and were consistent in design and quality. They and Glenda did quite well out of this business relationship. One of the reason was because with a range of clothes to sell that matched to each other it was very easy for Glenda to upsell and cross sell so even if the customer only came in for a single top they would walk away with five things on lay-by to complete their purchase.

When the financial crisis on the late 80’s hit some of these labels changed their tactics and started to produce individual pieces, thinking that the customer could not afford to by five pieces at once. And they were right that the customer only bought one piece at a time.

Unfortunately this was the nail in the coffin for Glenda. Selling one piece at a Retailtime was just not viable and was not much fun either. ‘There are not many people out there who know how to put an outfit together, that is up to the designer and the store owner to show them the way.’ I love this quote. Even as someone who works with clothes all day, I love nothing more than a great sales person who sees me as a valued client and uses their designer flair to style me up. It is our job as designers to provide the tools for these store owners. If you are designing one piece then please don’t expect a store owner to invest in you as they will see that you are not investing in them to make their job easier or enjoyable.

So why not go crazy on some designs and then use Pattern Room patterns to fill out your range? You can make these patterns your own by making slight adjustments to pocket details, lengths etc. It is much more cost effective than starting from scratch and then everyone gets what they need to be successful!

We are actually just about to update our Pattern Room website to make it even more useful and valuable to you. Would you like to be among the first to see it? Join our “early adopters community” by clicking here.

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