10 Critical Mistakes Fashion Designers Make

By Maria Pesin | Business

Being aware of the critical mistakes fashion designers make and avoiding them will raise your chances of being successful in your business.

Being a fashion designer is not just about making pretty clothes. Though wouldn’t it be fun if that were all it was? The fashion industry is a business and the point of it is to make money, how much is up to you.

A designer who realizes that it is necessary to keep their eye on the bottom line will have increased their ability for success. However, many forget that when they are designing, which can cost them sales. 10 Critical mistakes Fashion Designers Make

1. Not designing with production in mind – When designing a style a designer must be sure that technically it can be made and within price structure of the line. I have seen many a design that had to be dropped from a line because the production department did not have the ability to produce it.

2. Choosing fabrics and trims that are too expensive – I know sometimes you see a gorgeous fabric or a great button that you just have to have. But, if you don’t stay in the price range you can afford than you will not make a profit.

3. Not having the right fit – Yes, you know you need to have a good fit. But it is also important to have the right fit for your customer. A young contemporary line needs to fit a young persons body where a missy fit is more appropriate for an older person. Make sure your fit is right for your ideal customer.

4. Not having a target customer – How many times have I heard a designer say they sell everyone. But truthfully your collection has to have a focus otherwise it doesn’t stand for anything. You can sell everyone but you must design and market with your ideal buyer in mind.

5. Not understanding your customer – Once you have a target customer than you have to know your customer inside and out so that you can create clothing that will fit their needs. Keep in mind how they live, how they shop, and what social platforms they like, etc.

6. Not having a strong unique selling proposition – Having a good fit, or good quality is not enough to set you apart. Those are the basic expectation a store buyer will have for your product. You need to bring something special to the table. What is your reason to be? Why does the market need what you are selling?

7. Assuming that the factory understands you sketches – There is the saying that when you assume, you make an ass (out of) u (and) me. That goes doubly so for fashion. When you send sketches to a factory you must highlight every detail from stitching, to facing, to darts, and whatever other details are on the piece. Otherwise you will be wasting a lot of time on poor samples.

8. Not shopping the stores – A good designer will always shop the stores so they know what is out in the market. They need to see what is selling and what isn’t. They also need to see what their competition is up to.

9. Not always keeping sales in mind – One of the best designers I ever worked with always knew her numbers. She knew how many pieces a style sold or if a style wasn’t successful. This way she would design more of what was working and less of what wasn’t.

10. Not having advisors – No one knows everything. So having professionals you can go to in areas that you are not an expert in is just smart business. Even I work with professional advisors. I have hired consultants to help me with my consulting business.

The best designers avoid making these critical mistakes when they design.

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About the Author

Maria Pesin knows fashion, especially the business side of the fashion industry. Do you know how Manolo Blahnik got his start in the industry? How he leveraged a paltry 3 grand into one of the world’s most famous luxury brands? While she doesn’t take credit for Manolo’s success, Maria has walked a similar path on numerous occasions. The world of fashion is not silicon valley, and it has nothing to do with Madison Avenue marketing. In this industry there is ALWAYS room for something new and exciting, but you have to have your ducks in a row. If that’s what you need, believe me, Maria is the General Patton of fashion ducks!

  • Steve Han says:

    I am new to the industry. Very informative.

  • Jackii R. says:

    Thank you for this helpful, straightforward article.

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