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Archive for September, 2008

Green and responsible fashion is a big topic these days, now that so much awareness has been raised about the horrors of what goes on behind the fashion industry’s curtain. Things like de facto slavery, heavy pesticide use, and many other indignities require a closer look. Fortunately, many emerging designers are arriving onto the scene with truly responsible, sustainable business practices, while established fashion houses grapple with how to become more sustainable, and succomb to greenwashing. As a society we need to ask more questions about where our fashion comes from, and not accept anyone’s brand promise at face value anymore. We need to dig much, much deeper.

Here’s a great article from Condé Nast Portfolio that highlights greenwashing in the fashion industry:

“Cloaked in Green” by Dana Thomas

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The name of your label is going to be the most important marketing/branding asset you have. It should be well-chosen, should evoke the feeling of your line, and should be memorable. It should also be unique enough to be trademarkable and to distinguish yourself from others.

Unfortunately, the latter criteria is very difficult to achieve, as new businesses are exploding onto the scene every day, and new sounding names are hard to come by. Coming up with the right name requires patience. First, create a brand strategy statement that sums up your desired image. Then come up with a list of names that fit the tone and mood of your brand. This list should be longish, as you’ll need to do your due diligence and see what names are taken on the web. Once you narrow it down to your best choice, I would also seriously consider trademarking your name. A good trademark lawyer can help. But first, you can search the US Patent and Trademark website on your own to see what’s out there. Go to www.uspto.gov

There’s a great article in a recent issue of W magazine that captures the height of the unique name frenzy happening in the fashion world. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. You can read it here:

The Name Game: On Racks and Web Sites Throughout the Land, It’s the Era of the Sartorial Head-Scratcher,”
by Dana Wood

In another post, I’ll write about some naming strategies, especially those that I use when working with clients.

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I just received a question from the kind folks at CloakInc, who had a great question about getting noticed on a small budget. Here is a question from Johanna Pradek at Cloak, followed by my answer:

“Hello,

First of all, thank you so much for providing all of this useful information. It is so helpful and very applicable.

I am one half of the CLOAK Apparel Inc. creative team. CLOAK is a new fashion brand with a cause. We are using our passion for fashion and design to become a vast resource for charities and missions groups around the world. We are focusing on producing designer tees and scarves for the moment and have already launched a collection titled, “Positivity Moves.” Positivity Moves is a designer t-shirt with a large + symbol on it that represents positivity. The profits from that collection will be donated to help the food crisis and recent hurricane devastation in the nation of Haiti.

We currenly do all of our selling online. Because we’re a small start-up, we don’t have a large budget to attend trade shows where we could get get large quantity orders. Most of our budget has been spent on producing the shirts at sample quantities. We’ve been selling the shirts piece by piece on our website. We obviously can’t continue to do business that way if we plan to reach our business objectives. Our #1 problem is a lack of knowledge as to how the business works. We KNOW we have a great product and we’ve have tons of designs just waiting to get produced. We’ve worked hard on our presentation, look book, line sheet and overall brand ID.

So, the BIG questions are…
How do we get our product in front of buyers?
Who should we be sending our look book to?
Is there a directory with contact info available?

PLEASE HELP!!!”

__________

Johanna, thanks so much for your question, it’s a great one.

First off, congrats for starting a line that gives back to great causes. The world needs more people like you.

Now, some advice for you. If you can’t afford trade shows, you’re going to have to take a grass-roots approach. It’s hard work but the best way to get started until you can afford a sales rep or big marketing budget. Before a client of mine was able to hire a sales rep, he started out by first identifying local shops that would be ideal venues for his product, a line of organic, fair trade fashion. He then made appointments with the buyers at local retail shops that supported this type of fashion, and showed them the product in person. He was able to get local commitments to his line from this very grass-roots approach. I recommend you do the same. Find the local shops that might be interested, and give them a shout. Most boutique owners are hungry to get new lines that no one else has, so you can work this to your advantage.

Then to get exposure across the country, we did a mailing to boutiques that supported organic, fair trade, and socially conscious fashion. This built excitement for the line and generated inquiries. Within days of the postcard going into the mail, we had several inquiries of buyers wanting to see the lookbook, requesting more info, etc.

You asked if there are directories for contact info for retail buyers.

There isn’t really a directory to my knowledge. But you could build your own targeted mailing list (rather than buying a list from a list broker). To do so, first research some brands you like that have some similarities to yours and are also reasonably successful and have lots of exposure. Then, go to their websites and see where they’re stocked. Chances are, those stores might be interested in your product too. Send them a postcard announcing your line, and make sure your contact info is on it, along with a call to action.

Other ideas:

• Work the Press and Social networks: Get very comfortable with PR, learn how to write your own press release to save money. Send samples to the press. The more press you can get cheaply, the more advantage your brand will have. Imagine if you got into LUCKY magazine? Also, identify key bloggers in the socially conscious fashion world and send them samples too. You want as many people talking about you as possible. And there are some great social shopping sites that can generate a lot of page views, where people will review and form groups around your product. They are:

– Crowdstorm

– Kaboodle

– Stylehive

ThisNext

And, I’d love for you to create an amazing video and post it on Youtube. Don’t forget to include your URL.

• Go “guerrilla”: get as much exposure on the street as you possibly can. But don’t get just anyone wearing it. Identify the local hipsters on the scene—local celebrities—and send them samples. Let them become brand evangelists. If they’re spotted wearing your shirt, it increases your street cred and generates attention.

You may already be doing some of this stuff, but keep it up and don’t be afraid to step it up. I wish you tons of luck! If you ever have any questions in the future, don’t be afraid to reach out.

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Back from a very long break

Hi everyone, 

I had taken a very long break from this blog, as my business has been doing extremely well this year, but sadly that leaves me little time to write. However, I feel strongly enough about this topic that I want to get back into the swing of things and focus on you, the up and coming fashionista. 

So, I’m back, and wishing you peace and love and success!

Best,

g

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