As an insider in the fashion industry, I can confidently tell you that there has been a tremendous transformation in the industry in the past few years. Marketing of Nigerian-made designer outfits is getting better by the day, and waiting until tomorrow maybe too late as the best time to enter into an industry is while it’s growing thereby presenting lots of avenues to explore, grow and carve out a niche for yourself. Here are some of the tips top fashion designers in the world have shared for breaking into the Fashion Industry:
- Before you venture into the fashion industry, do your research. It simply means the age old adage of “knowing your rope” still applies to this dynamic industry. In the past few years, lots of self-acclaimed fashion designers have flooded the industry. A good number of them don’t know the nitty-gritty of fashion designing. Some go to the extent of buying already designed and made outfits, showcasing them on the runway as their brain-child. Some others showcase works that many won’t want to glance at twice due to poor taste in designing or over-flogged designs. Well, the truth is that time will tell if they will actually be able to last longer and be relevant in the industry in years to come. Just like every other profession, fashion design requires a good knowledge of the in-and-outs of the business for one to be successful. To be the best, you have to learn from the best. Go to a fashion school and possibly look for internship positions at renowned fashion houses. The good thing about learning from the best is that someday you will definitely be better than your master if you learnt well.
- Pay attention to details. The greatest designers of all time, not just in fashion, pay great attention to details. A perfectly done piece will not only speak well of you but will also put you ahead of the competition. Nigerians love quality- come on who doesn’t? There are people out there who are ready to pay good money for you to make them look good-I can testify to that. Not just me. Look around you.
- Gain experience. Experience, they say, is the best teacher. Working as an intern or an apprentice will not only get you the necessary experience needed in the business but will also allow you make mistakes that will cost you less. One of the world’s top designers, Zac Posen interned with Nicole Miller at a young age. He learnt from an expert making his journey of becoming an expert himself much easier.
- Do your math. When you have gathered the necessary experience, another very crucial part is the mathematics part. Yes. It matters. Knowing how much it will cost you to start up the business, location, and other considerations too. Fashion design business is like the 21st-century startup company with different sectors. At first, you might have to do everything from design, marketing, sales, strategy, and other necessary tools for successfully running a startup. But as the business grows bigger, specialists in different fields will be in a better position to help your business expand unless you’re loaded with cash, you can go for it big, not without consulting experts, though. But most times bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, I believe in the principle of “Lean Startup”.
- Marketing is key. What is the essence of a perfect product or service if nobody knows about it? Marketing any product including fashion has not been as easy as it is now. With Nigerian Fashion shows of International standard gaining the attention of the international community, shows like Lagos Fashion Design Week, Native and Vogue International Fashion Week, Arise Fashion Week, Music Meets Runway, Africa Fashion Week, Nigeria Fashion Week and lots of other amazing fashion shows, are great ways to market your products. The good thing about the fashion shows is that if you have done a great job, your craft will speak for you. The internet and social media is another platform to leverage on for bringing your marketing game to the fore. Fashion influencers, fashion bloggers, fashion photographers, fashion PR etc are another option.
- Know your target customers. Specify who your target customers are and how best to reach them. Specialising in one aspect is also very important, I wonder who will not. You can take on Men’s Suit, Women Suit, and Lingerie, Casuals, or kiddies. There are countless opportunities out there.
- Be unique. Ituen Bassey is known for her patchwork and fringed dresses, Orange Culture is known for his crazy designs, Bunor Creazioni by Frank Osodi’s is known for his artistic attention to details; what amazes me about his work is that he makes sure he gives a finishing and perfecting touch to the dresses. Several other designers are also unique in their own way. The likes of Mai Atafo; he is a genius of a designer, his bespoke suits overlap your body as if you were born with it. Jewel by Lisa has a touch that makes anyone wearing her designs feel 10 years younger, also, there is Ade Bakare, Jason Porsche, Yomi Casual, Ouch Couture, and many others. Nigeria is blessed with creative fashion icons in the person of designers who are too numerous to mention here. As a designer, you can definitely make your works as amazing even more. Just be creative.
- Be passionate. Every successful designer who has distinguished himself against all odds has attributed their success to their passion for fashion. In the words of a legendary fashion icon, Oscar de la Renta, “Everything around me is an inspiration for a design.” Passionate designers draw inspiration from everything around them. From everyday life to wildlife, arts, science fiction, and even the craziest of things.
- Customer relationship. An excellent customer service will definitely make the client refer you to others and definitely come back for more. But the reverse is the case for a bad service.
- Networking. Building a network is about one of the most crucial assets in business. Most of the times, it’s not really what you know that counts but who you know. Attend fashion shows, networking events, join groups of like-minded people, for example, the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria. All these give you the opportunity to meet and share ideas with the best minds in the industry. It also helps you get to know about the latest happenings in your business. The world is too big that it can contain your dreams no matter how big it is. Dream big, set your goals high and the sky will be your starting point. See you at the top.
Source Connect Nigeria.