Review: Wednesday's Mentoring Event

Emma Crosby and David Jones
Allen Scott
Eudon Choi
Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Martyn Roberts
 'The night was very useful, we are all gradually learning each day!', Yukun Zhao from Jasper Garvida.
 'It's great to be around like minded people, the location is so central and it's really relaxed', Yvon Modu.
 'I've been to lots of these events, they're great, it's fantastic what Vauxhall Fashion Scout do', Delia Covezzi.
Anna Brett

Well, Fashion Week’s over, and it’s time to start pushing for sales. With umpteen press days lined up, manufacturers to source, and funds in short supply, our info packed night aimed to lead designers through the Fashion Week comedown and into the money-making phase. With double the usual number of panellists, a highly selective guest list and running an hour longer than usual, our first, post Fashion Week mentoring event, sponsored by the LDA, was set to be a busy one.

Making up the bumper line up of panellists was Emma Crosby, Sales Manager for Vauxhall Fashion Scout, David Jones, Luxury Freelance Fashion Consultant, Allen Scott, from New Planet Fashions, Anna Brett, MD of Image Studio Production, Alison Lowe, MD of Felicities PR and Emma Davidson, Recruitment Consultant and Finance Manager from Denza International. With the booze flowing, and questions a-plenty, here are the top tips gleaned from our fabulous, double event!

Dealing With Buyers
‘A buyer from Browns told me, ‘I’ll give everyone 5 minutes of my time, but only 5 minutes’, David Jones.

If a buyer has suggested they are interested, but hasn’t followed up, don’t hound them. Try them a couple of times, then follow up with a friendly email setting them a deadline date to make an order by, and thanking them for their interest.

Be open and transparent: if they ask you about other stockists you have, tell them as it
may be reassuring for them. However, try not to offer up that information voluntarily.

Buyers Outside of London
‘You wouldn’t attempt to learn how to drive around Hyde Park Corner, so it makes sense to cut your teeth outside of London’ David Jones.

Don’t just target big retailers in London; there are lots of great retailers outside of the capital.

Higher disposable income outside of London means that sales are more likely, and buyers are more receptive to new designers. They don’t have designers knocking on their door everyday like London buyers do.

Money: Getting Paid, Sale and Returns, and Deposits
‘Arrange payment plans with people to spread out the cost, like paying 50% now, then 50% in 30 days. Lots of people will say no, but someone will always say yes in the end, so give it a go’, Emma Davidson.

Consider who owes you money, and start collecting it. If you’re organised and have payment plans set out, you are much more appealing to buyers and manufacturers.

Don’t automatically offer the buyer 30 days to pay you, purely because you think it sounds professional. Ask for payment sooner, and then negotiate from there.

Never deliver the second season’s product if you still haven’t been paid for the first, and if a store is failing to pay, keep following up. Those who shout the loudest get paid first.

Sale or return: only consider this if you are able to stay in constant contact with the shop. Try giving stock to a shop for a month’s trial period, so if it doesn’t sell, you can try it at another. However, always set a strict time limit on it.

Retailers tend to push the items that they’ve purchased, rather than the borrowed stock, so bare that in mind when offering a sale or return deal.

Press Contacts
'PR is about your wider public. It’s about telling everybody and anybody you come into contact with what you are doing’, Alison Lowe.

You must keep up communication with press contacts between fashion weeks, what new things are happening with your label? You should be contacting the press with something new each month.

Tell of your successes, tell other buyers about new stockists and release the story as soon as you can.

Create a professional image: rename your flat as a studio, set up a different phone line just for press and use letterheads.

Dealing with Manufacturers
‘If you can’t get a deposit, ideally 30%, then don’t work with them’, Anna Brett.

Get ahead of yourself, plan which manufacturer you would like to work with way before you need them. Don’t wait until you suddenly have a huge order to fulfil.

Manufacturers want designers to be punctual, focused on what they want to achieve, and well prepared with the correct paperwork (toiles/spec sheets/samples/time plans).

At the design process, you should be considering how much the garment will retail at, then what it will wholesale at, then how much the fabric will cost. You need to consider this from the very beginning.

Make sure you check the blog for info on the next mentoring night!

Fiona Anderson
Images by David Maunder

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