As we head into the fall season, or ‘fashion season’ as many know it, the buzz begins around the fashion industry, the designers and the glamorous, red-carpet lifestyle that seemingly comes with it. Most major cities in the world will be hosting a ‘Fashion Week’ from New York to Milan to Toronto and Halifax. Yes, you heard it right. In case you didn’t know, Canada has a well-developed fashion scene with an incredible number of talented designers. And from October 18th to 21st of this year, 30 designers will be celebrated with their innovative designs coming down the runway at Atlantic Fashion Week, taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
But for every fashion designer we celebrate on the runway, there are hundreds more who haven’t been able to ‘make it’ in the fashion industry. And, many that have the privilege of showcasing during these exposure opportunity platforms, still struggle. Designer after designer have failed in the attempt at making a living through their passion of creating a fashion line. So many talents with the creative vision, design ability and desire to create piece after piece but lack the necessary skills, knowledge and support required to take their brand to the next level. So, besides the sweat, tears, fabric, and design ability, what is required to become a successful fashion brand?
In the fall of 2017, we launched The FADD Agency, aka The Fashion Agency for Design and Development, a non-profit, pan-Atlantic trade association representing our fashion and design sector in Atlantic Canada. Up to this point, there has been a void in supporting this sector. We do a great job supporting film, music, craft and other creative industries, but fashion seems to frivolously fall through the cracks. And people often overlook the important role that fashion plays in our culture. Though I’ve been immersed in the fashion industry for years, this past year was one of deliberate research in trying to find ways to best support this sector, to uncover the true challenges that our designers are faced with. And, though there are many, there are two that seem to take the forefront: Production and Presentation.
Firstly, Production. It is a costly but a necessary investment. So many designers can produce a line, but what happens when you find that buyer who loves your stuff and wants to order 100 pieces? Have you prepared for that? Have you done your necessary homework to source out the best way to produce? Do you have support with a team of professional sewers who you can trust to deliver quality? Often there is so much focus put on marketing to get your brand out there, but if you are alone in your basement trying to do it all yourself, you will never be able to scale your business. And know that from a FADD Agency stand point, we are working tirelessly to convince our government officials and agencies with funding capabilities, that a fashion hub or incubator is necessary to help support your growth and increase export capabilities.
Secondly, how you present yourself and your brand is imperative to your success. Fashion Designers need to know how to properly present themselves and pitch their brand. Do you know how to persuasively communicate why people should buy your designs? Do you speak with clarity on your niche market and what you have to offer? Do you have an outreach sales strategy? I’ve had the privilege of working with so many talented designers who lack the necessary communication skills and confidence in presenting and selling themselves. Presentation of yourself and your brand is everything.
And from the community, your help is required to complete the sale. Quality fashion is for sale in our country, and your support helps in growing business, growing a sector, and growing dreams. Tickets for Atlantic Fashion Week are on sale at www.atlanticfashionweek.com. See you at the runway.