5 October 10

Top 10 ‘DON’TS’ For Fashion Businesses

10 of the biggest mistakes made by fashion wholesalers and designers.

1. Overlooking production
As your name is going to be on the final product, it is crucial you keep a close eye on all aspects of production. Fit and finish must be perfect. In fact I now do a critique on sample bras all the time to ensure a successful launch and collection. Your products must match your samples! The biggest mistake I see is that the samples are not perfect. They go on show at fashion fairs and shows where can shape and fit are there for all to see. Retailers are looking with a hawk eye at this kind of detail and if the fit isn't there they will not buy. Think about this; would you invest in something that you weren't 100 per cent sure of?

shirley2. Shoddy shipping
Credibility is everything and the fashion business can be very unforgiving. You can't ship one season late; that will be your downfall.

3. Wanting (too much) to be in certain stores
Designers sometimes under-price their goods in order to have prestigious boutiques or department stores buy their lines, with the strategy that they can raise prices later. This doesn't work. Those stores bought you to fit into a certain price point. Slip out of it and they won't be buying your next line. It may work for one season but not for the life of your company. What's more, increased volumes will not necessarily cover the shortfall of underpricing. It might work for offshore mega producers but if you take that route, you're not a fashion forward line anymore are you?

4. Spending now, worrying later
Designers often get caught up in the whirl of marketing and PR, putting on fashion shows and spending up on promotions, thinking they can pay the bills later. There is no later. Focus on your spending priorities; invest in your product so it's not necessary to spend valuable resources on expensive PR.

5. Believing your own publicity
While making the pages of a glossy magazine is a feather in anyone's cap, it's not a million dollar deal. You're not a star. There is no instant stardom. Making it in the fashion business is not an overnight accomplishment; the product is what it's all about.

6. Not targeting credit worthy stores
Designers and wholesalers make the mistake of assuming a prestigious, beautiful-looking store is a good credit risk, bypassing mainstay stores. The store is beautiful because they spent a lot of money on it, which may mean leaving them less money to pay you! Don't assume a beautiful store will be a credit worthy customer. You have to take a hard line; honourable long term businesses aren't built on weak credit.

7. Speculating
Do not over-produce. Do not cut extra goods with the potential of reorders in mind. As it is, you'll get some goods returned, so you'll end up with more inventory on hand than you'd expected. As a rule of thumb, you should never cut over 3 -5 per cent of total orders. Your aim is to increase the initial order amount.

8. Selling on consignment
You never know what you'll get back and you won't be able to use it or resell it to anyone because it'll be shop worn. If a retailer wants the goods on consignment, they're not committed to you. You're much better off selling on straight terms.

9. Dropping the ball
Somebody must watch the watchers at all times in every stage and that's you. Keep it simple, this is a cash business. The sooner you see that fashion is a one season, cash flow business, the better off you'll be. Focus on the long term by producing the best product and keep unnecessary extravagant expenses low.

10. Allowing one store to dominate
Above all, avoid over-concentration. It doesn't matter if it's Myer or David Jones, one account should not dominate your customer portfolio. If it does, you can be hit hard if the store drops your line. Diversify. One customer should not account for more than 25 per cent of your sales. A way to create exclusivity is to create a piece in a particular colour for them and put a time frame on it.

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  • Renee,

    Really good insights here.
    I’ve made a bunch of the mistakes you mention here over my journey with haul.
    Solid, simple rules to follow.

  • Hey Scott,
    I think we all have but we learn more from our mistakes then our successes. Thank you I am so glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    Renee x

  • WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by
    searching for mistakes made by fashion wholesalers and
    designers
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