Doing fashion not dreaming fashion – turning British talent into more viable fashion businesses

As SS16 begins to play out and the British Fashion Council initiatives to support emerging talent reached their catwalk culmination many of the designers who have benefited from various forms of assistance over the run up to the event will be starting to wonder what happens next.

How do great fashion designs turn into a business?

Curated shows are fantastic – they present the best collections to buyers and showcase them to the fashion press. But then what? How do you move your designs from concept to production? What are the processes that lead to a successful sourcing exercise? How do you protect your intellectual capital in an intensively competitive environment?

Katie Roberts-Wood on her first steps into the fashion world

Katie Roberts-Wood talks to FASHIONbasecamp about her first steps into running a fashion business following the attention after winning the FASHIONSCOUT Merit Award (see feature image for a snapshot of her collection).

For newly emerging designers – such as those on the NEWGENSS16 initiative sponsored by TOPSHOP – these questions may be career-breakers. Design is not enough. The ability to transfer concept to form is vital, but not sufficient. Most young designers have the drive and desire to complete the journey to success, but can lack the guidance to know where their skills are low or their current business practices ineffective.

As highlighted in a recent intelligence article about the relationship between young designers and retailers by BOF: “Even though a strong stockist can act as a calling card for a fledgling brand — a sign to other retailers that a young designer can manage the business — the logistics, production and business reporting involved in supplying to a big store can be a shock to the system for a young company — something stores don’t always take into account.” It goes on to quote Bernadette Kissane from Euromonitor: “Inexperienced designers sometimes struggle to deliver orders on time or to quality standards, and there’s a risk of the designer not being able to keep up with the demand”.

FASHIONbasecamp, created by experienced fashion business mentor and consultant Ben Muis and fashion media creator Darren Paul, aims to bridge the gap between design skills and business expertise.

By flagging up the landmarks that indicate challenges ahead before ensuring provision of solutions, FASHIONbasecamp will both educate designers about the evolution of a fashion business and develop their core skills in entrepreneurship. As shown by mentees who have already progressed through mentoring programmes run by Ben Muis the process works. By extending the programme into FASHIONbasecamp many more British designers will be able to access this business development process and progress on their journey to success without the roadblocks they may currently experience.

GVYN's Ulrike Seeber was mentored by FASHIONbasecamp Head of Mentoring Ben Muis

Ulrike Seeber, founder of London based leather brand GVYN, talks to FASHIONbasecamp presenter Nimi Mehta about how mentoring helped her to succeed where others failed.

One example of such an event is the “Dealing with Fashion Retailers and Distributors” workshop for emerging fashion brands, which FASHIONbasecamp is organising in November at the Fashion Retail Academy in London.

Looking at fashion ideas as business proposals

Every new fashion line may need funding, but equally important may be the need to understand wholesale, master ecommerce, or having expert support in establishing brand identity – these and other aspects of growing a fashion business are fully explored through a range of FASHIONbasecamp tools and events, including curated videos that anatomise the vision, challenges and successes of emerging fashion brands as a route map for new fashion entrepreneurs through to one-to-one mentoring from industry experts who can lay out a range of potential solutions to support each young fashion business.

Funding a fashion business

The sticking point for many fashion designers is finance. Knowing how to make creative ideas fundable is an art, and being able to translate fashion concept to start-up vocabulary is a craft. FASHIONbasecamp’s mentoring team has been chosen for their variety of skills, while events such as the workshops will allow emerging fashion businesses to develop their abilities to pitch their work and negotiate for their business with confidence and clarity.

FASHIONbasecamp is a complete platform to support and develop Britain’s fashion designers in the face of global competition for publicity, funding and brand recognition. Using FASHIONbasecamp in conjunction with well-developed initiatives such as London Fashion Week, the UK’s new fashion talent will be superbly supported through the process of becoming viable fashion businesses.

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