Category Archives for "Fashion"

Apr 13

How Well Do You Know Your Market?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

How well do you know your market? This is an important question. Unfortunately some Entrepreneurs aren’t even sure what the market is for their product.

The term “your market” is a group composed of characteristics which are used to identify a specific target group of consumers or of a market segment and can be understood with information composed of the demographic, psychographic, and socio-economic factors of the population.

The internet is a great place to find this data. There are many sites that will give you detailed information on your potential audience.  HubSpot posted a helpful article called: “17 Tools & Resources for Conducting Market Research” which as the title says gives you sites you can go to in order to do research, many of which are free.

Throughout the course of starting and developing your business make sure you ask your buyers what they think at every stage. You should be led by what they will buy, not just by what you think they will want.

Additionally “knowing your market” encompasses knowing your products competition. The most successful people I know in the fashion industry are very in-tuned to their market. They are constantly in the stores and speaking with salespeople and consumers, or walking the floor with their buyers.  This reinforces their ability to be relevant to their customers and not fall behind.

No matter how high up you are in your companies hierarchy never stop interacting with your market. When I ran businesses I would visit the stores that carried my product and spend hours working with customers one on one.  It is amazing what you learn when you sell directly to the end consumer.   There is no substitute for hands on exposure.

Never assume you know all there is to know and that your markets wants and needs won’t change.  By constantly studying and learning your will assure your brand of continued success.

 

Apr 07

Finally A Fashion Industry That Embraces Inclusiveness

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

 

Black, White, Brown, Red, Petite, Tall, Skinny, Plus sized, Freckles, Disabled, Elderly, Transgender, Gay, Queer, Lesbian, and the list keeps on growing…

The difference among people is immense.

The world is getting bigger, and thank goodness, more tolerant. When I was young “coming out of the closet” as it was called was a scary thing indeed. Similarly, standards of beauty were narrow and restrictive. Today, we celebrate our differences, and the fashion industry is finally beginning to embrace inclusiveness.

Ann Taylor has a promotion called “Our Pants Are Everything”. Which shows women in all shapes and sizes. See photo above

The Spring 17 runway shows saw, transgender, race diversity, women of 50 and older, as well as curvy women.

Iris Apfel a quirky senior citizen with tons of personality, was featured in ads for the handbag line Aigner.

Tracey Norman, the first African American transgender model, appeared as the face of Nice N’ Easy’s “Color as Real as You Are” campaign for Clairol.

Urban Outfitters launched a 2017 fashion campaign highlighting diverse bodies. Calling it the “Class of 2017”, they feature all different shapes, sizes and different genders.

Models with disabilities graced the runways.

The list is long.

But, what we are finally seeing is that the standards for beauty and fashionability have expanded. There is no longer only one way to look. As women have rebelled against the high and narrow standards that our society places on pure physical beauty, the fashion industry is jumping on board.

What does this mean to you as a fashion entrepreneur?

This season I have clients that are making adaptive clothing, and an athleisure company making plus sized clothing. I’m also working with a mens line that targets gay men.

The beauty of all of this is that there are as many opportunities to serve these audiences as their are audiences. If you’re open to the possibilities, you can find truly passionate groups of people with specific needs and desires. By crafting both your products and your messaging to these needs, you will be giving yourself a leg up in the market.

Remember, it’s always much easier to talk to someone specific than to try and talk to everyone at the same time. Not only does it help you keep your focus, but it will save you gobs of marketing dollars at the same time!

Apr 06

When people see your product do they know it’s you?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

What makes your brand uniquely you?  Do you have a point of view that is recognizable?

When you look at Chanel apparel, even without a label inside you know it’s Chanel.  If you see a Versace dress it is totally identifiable as sexy.  Calvin Klein, clean, modern. and sophisticated.  Ralph Lauren, Americana.  We always speak of brand consistency.  Which of course is very important.  Labeling, packaging. Photography, website, all brand collateral must be identifiable to  the brand.

However, first and foremost is product.  Are you creating product that when a customer sees it they recognize your style?  Have you endeavored to have a signature look?    High end fashion lines tend to have an easier time as they are creating trends where less expensive lines more times follow them. But, no matter what your price points, you can most definitely have your own style.

Tom Ford once spoke about the importance of product and how it is key. I used t0 jokingly say that product was first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, in other words everything.  It still is.

Differentiate yourself from competitors through a strong brand personality in your space and create product that is uniquely you.  What makes you identifiable?  Can you articulate it?  When a customer sees it would they know it is you without seeing the label?  This is somethings all designers should strive to do.

Consistency creates brands people trust that are dependable.  They also are recognizable.  It’s like handwriting, uniquely you.

“It’s frankly easier to create something new than to rework someone else’s attempt,” Adam Judge, Author of ‘The Little Black Book of Design’.

 

 

Apr 03

5 Things an Entrepreneur Should Know Before Starting A Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Starting a fashion brand is exciting.  But, it can also be quite daunting. As Sophia Amoruso founder of Nasty Gal once said, “It takes a lot more than just knowing how to put an outfit together to succeed in the fashion industry, so more power to you if this is where you want to be; just don’t expect it to be an extended trip to the mall.”

I know we love the glamour and excitement we perceive being in the fashion business will bring.  But it is a lot of hard work and sometimes a lot of disappointment before you can start to see success.  Here are 5 things you should know before you start.

  1. What is your big idea?  There is a lot of competition out there.  So you need to know how you will stand out.  What will you bring to the table that is new and different?
  2. Who is your customer?  Having a very clear picture of your customer allows you to build a collection that is focused on what you buyers wants and values.
  3. How much money do you need and where are you going to get it?  Planning your financials is a critical component to your success. Making a plan for what it will cost to run your business and then raising the money first will help you with the significant outlay of capital before your business starts making money. One of the main reasons most small businesses fail is that they simply run out of cash.
  4. How is your product being produced?  The best designers I ever worked with kept production in mind while they put together their lines.  Many newbies create great designs only to find out they are not financially or technically feasible.  Working closely with a good production company will save on time and money as they direct you to the best factories and suppliers for your product.
  5. What is your sales and marketing plan?  Unfortunately many designers come up with a line and sometimes even a production run before they even know how they will get it sold.  Without sales there is no business.  So make a plan from the beginning.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”-Coco Chanel

While it is a business, for many of us, it is still a passion.  If you have the passion than go for it and fulfill your dreams!

Mar 13

Creativity on Demand

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Vibe Consulting

According to Donatella Versace, “fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream.”

Ok it is a new season and you have to design your collection. Except you just finished last season and your creative juices are running a bit thin.

Wouldn’t you love to be consistently creative?

The truth, though, is that we all get stuck from time to time. So here is what I do when I need to turn on my creativity.

First, I submerge myself in inspiration.

I look at the runways, on line, pinterest, magazines, museums, movies, stores, pretty much any and everything that gives me ideas. Then I start to see a thread develop and my vision takes form.

Second, I start to focus in on what I truly find exciting. From there I create. The more ideas I have the better. And I don’t censor them. I throw a lot on the board before even think about narrowing in.

“Studies from the University of California Davis and MIT have shown that groups who produce a large amount of bad ideas also tend to produce the most amount of good ideas as well.”

Sometimes having no inspiration and living totally in my head helps me create ideas.

I find hiking, driving a car, or even taking a shower is where I get some of my best ideas from. Doing something that I can do on auto pilot is also a great way for me to get my brain to start dreaming. (Just don’t space out while driving!)

Another tool that I hear works well is to just start.

Writers for example will start writing anything just to fill a page in order to get themselves in the mindset. For a fashion designer that might be just starting to sketch and see what comes from it.

Finally if all else fails, walk away.

Just like there is writers block, there can be designers block. Instead of pressuring yourself to the point where your mind is a blank, do something else completely different and then come back to it totally refreshed.

After all, we aren’t robots. Although creativity comes more naturally to some people than others, you still can’t expect to be constantly “in the zone.” Give yourself a break and let the inspiration occur!

Mar 09

3 Stockbrokers walk into a bar…

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Once upon a time I was married to a stock broker.

I know it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s true! One thing he would tell me is that when everyone is excited about the market, that is when the NASDAQ is about to go down. Like Warren Buffet says, “the time to buy is when everyone else wants to sell.” When everyone wants in, the smart money starts to take their money out – in order to capture profits.

While I wouldn’t say fashion cycles are exactly the same as the stock market, there are some similarities. When a trend is being bought by everyone and their mother, we know that it’s about to start fading.

Right now we are going to start seeing that with Athleisure. I mean they are putting the word in the dictionary soon for goodness sake.

Athleisure product is everywhere and every major brand from Tory Burch to Calvin Klein is now doing some kind of performance/casual brand.

Of course they all look the same.

One of the biggest fails of our industry is the way we copy things to death without having a unique point of view. Don’t you think wearing yoga pants every day is getting boring?

Aren’t we jonesing for a fabulous skirt with a cool pair of pumps?

Industry site the Robin Report predicts that athleisure “is rolling over for fall and its growth rate will dramatically slow, and then stall out”.

I don’t believe that this trend will ever fully end. The American people love casual dressing so this kind of apparel will leave the realm of trend and become a staple category just like jeans did.

However, I think the next trend is going to be a bit more dressed up.

And I for one am glad.

It will be fun, new, and, fresh. Isn’t that what fashion is about…change?

Feb 28

You Screwed Up. Now What?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

You saw the news everywhere.

While announcing the best picture Oscar award at this past Sunday’s event, there was a mix-up of cards and presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty initially declared the musical, La La Land, the winner.

Ooops!

But just as La La Land’s producers were accepting the award, they were interrupted by Host Kimmel who stated La La Land was not the winner, Moonlight was. As you can imagine chaos and confusion erupted on live TV.

Wow! That is a big error!

Who’s fault was that? And how does the guilty person recover from such a huge mistake? Can you image that person’s rep in the industry? I bet they won’t be stuffing envelopes for a while!

Embarrassing, yes – but not really all that uncommon.

In the fashion industry people screw up all the time, many times publicly.

Remember when Lululemon had to recall their yoga pants because they were too sheer? Or the time Andrew Marc was sued by The Humane Society of the United States after an investigation revealed raccoon dog fur violations? The investigation uncovered evidence that the brand continued to sell raccoon dog fur (a species of dog) despite a court order prohibiting it after March 2013.

Think of one of the biggest business blunders ever! Coca Cola changing their soda formula. Overnight Coca Cola experienced a huge drop in sales.

How do businesses come back from these mistakes? And they all did.

According to Paul Schoemaker, the research director for the Mack Center for Technological Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and co-author of the forthcoming Brilliant Mistakes, most people tend to overreact to their slip-ups. They “make asymmetric evaluation of gains and losses so that losses loom much larger than gains,” he explains.

I know in my many years in business there was a time or two where I made cringe worthy mistakes. We all do. Then I dwelt on them for months rather than remembering the successes.

So how do you handle a mistake?

First you own it. Acknowledge it, even if it has to be public. Maybe apologize. Learn from it. Then course correct.

You can’t undo what’s already happened. You can’t miraculously make people forget.

However, by being honest, humble and up front about it, your chances of quickly recovering are good. People are usually forgiving of honest mistakes.

They may laugh at you for a while, but remember: no one ever died from a red face!

Feb 23

Should your Fashion Business Go “Seasonless”?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

My goodness, is spring already here?

Wasn’t it snowing a couple of days ago?

The weather is so strange. It seems winter is later and spring is earlier every year. Climate change is all too real an issue for our industry.

Many years ago I was taking May 30th for Fall deliveries from Saks Fifth Ave. Now no one wants inventory before August. For 6 years I worked in the coat industry. Each year business became more and more difficult as the cold weather took longer and longer to arrive.

One solution is the buy now, wear now model. Creating clothing much closer to need as opposed to showing way in advance of the season. “The current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to customers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense,” stated Tom Ford.

Another solution is to include “seasonless” pieces in your collection.

These are items that feel timeless and can be worn again and again, but are still interesting enough to make the customer want to buy. I don’t know about you, but I find myself wearing the same clothing all year round.

This is a trend that brands need to be on.

Seasonless fashion is on the rise, and we can’t afford to ignore it. And this isn’t just about heavy coats and lighter fabrics. This change breaking some of our hardest kept fashion rules.

Now you can wear white in the winter and cashmere in the spring. Also using lighter weight fabrics that are layered in the fall and then stripped down in the summer. You see women without hose in the winter, and all sorts of weird fabric combinations.

Then there are companies like AYR (https://www.ayr.com) that stands for All Year Round. They were founded in 2014 when the founders saw the need for seasonless clothing. And Catherine Quin (http://www.catherinequin.com) who’s website says the brand was “created as an interchangeable wardrobe reflecting the needs of the modern woman, the Catherine Quin collection transcends occasion, climate and culture with seasonless versatility.”

Is this a strategy for you?

Obviously I can’t be sure. However, I think this is a strategy everyone needs to consider. Almost certainly there should be some element of “seasonless” incorporated into just about every collection.

Feb 13

Ever Feel Discouraged?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Sometimes it’s hard not to get discouraged.

Deliveries are delayed, samples come in wrong, stores are late making payment. Believe me, I know that sometimes things happen in my business that are out of my control and I also get discouraged. It’s just human nature.

Running a business is not always smooth sailing and it is often harder than you ever expected. (similar to marriage and raising children, lol).

For entrepreneurs, being discouraged from time to time comes as part of the gig.

Entrepreneurship is filled with peaks and valleys. And from experience, I know the valleys can feel like someone has trounced on your spirit. Someone wearing big heavy military boots.

This can lead to questioning and self-doubt.

So what is the solution? Sometimes you just need to step away. Read a book, see a movie, or go to the gym. But what do you do if that is not an option?

Listen closely, because I have a multi-step sure-fire solution that works for me:

Step 1: determine what the exact problem is…without blowing it out of proportion. For example if a delivery is delayed, rather than thinking I will go out of business, I slow down and state the exact problem. Many times it is not as bad as I thought.

Step 2: make a list of possible solutions. For the delayed delivery I may ask the factory to give me a discount, or send by air rather then boat if they are coming from overseas. There are always viable alternatives if you breathe calmly and look closely.

Step 3: take action. In our hypothetical case of the delayed delivery, I get on the phone and start negotiating. The key step is taking action.

To me the cure for discouragement is activity.

Movement always beats sitting there in the dumps. I totally understand that when you’re in the thick of the problem it can be difficult to see a solution as you get so emotionally involved. You just can’t think straight.

When that happens get your team on board. This is when your business consultant is worth her weight in gold.

Contact them to talk you off the roof and brainstorm solutions.

And remember, a month from now today’s mountain of despair will seem like just a bump in the road!

Feb 07

Is Your Website Stuck in Traffic?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Over the last several weeks I’ve spoken with four new clients, and they all seem to have the same nagging ache: converting online traffic into sales. For some reason, this is a recurring theme with many fashion brands out there.

You see, all four had great products – that wasn’t the problem. Their prices were reasonable and they mostly had good images too. So, what’s the story?

The story’s the story – that’s what!

The truth is you have about 8 seconds before the majority of visitors leave your site. And in that short span of time you have to achieve a whole lot. Most importantly you have grab their attention and reel them in by giving them a compelling reason why they should stay on your site.

Does your landing page clearly show visitors who you are and why they should do business with you? Is there a clear call to action? Is it easy to see what their next step should be?

If not, you’re leaving money on the table.

One of the four clients had a very confusing website. I didn’t know where to go or even when I hit a button it didn’t do what the button said it would. That kind of sloppiness causes a really bad impression.

Also, how good is your photography? Are you products shown to their best advantage? Sometimes it is as simple as using a steamer to press your clothes.

Is your traffic the right traffic?

Acquiring the wrong traffic is one of the biggest reasons your website isn’t converting. Make sure you are focusing your marketing on the right demographic for your line. Believe me, it is better to have 1,000 raving fans on your list, than 10,000 lukewarm ones.

Does your website load quickly? Have you ever gone to a website that is incredibly slow to load? Most people just bounce away when that happens.

Do you require too much information to check out? I find it very annoying when I am required to set up an account in order to check out. I want things to be speedy (It seems I am always in a rush).

Make it easy for a customer to seal the deal.

Competition for customers on the internet is high. Make sure your site is as effective as it can be.

After all, you may only get one shot at that potential buyer!