TIME TIME TIME ...
TIME TIME TIME ...
You have a great concept, you have the backing and the drive, but all of these things can’t make a line successful if it doesn't ship on time.
One of the biggest pitfalls for designers is staying on schedule and making their deliveries on time. It’s a struggle to design, produce, ship and sell on time, especially for designers who are learning how the fashion calendar works. The industry has standard dates that are predetermined for designers to follow as guidelines:
- Fabric shows – when the season’s fabrics become available
- Sales shows – when the current season collection is presented to stores
- Store delivery dates – when stores accept orders
Designers Who End Up With Late Product Either Do Not Stick To Their Calendars Or Are Setting Their Calendars Up Incorrectly.
How you organize your time before and in between these industry dates will make or break your business. It’s easy to get caught up in the design process, forget about Chinese New Year and mill closings, or not realized that the trim you want is out of stock and needs 6 weeks for delivery. Argh!
This is where a TIA – Time in Action— calendar comes in. You can build your calendar by marking key industry dates and then working backwards from your final due date keeping these guidelines in mind.
Below is a list of important dates to help guide you:
1. DESIGN – Work backwards and see how much time you realistically have for design
TIP: As a general rule, this time needs to start earlier than you think! You should have an idea of the collection, concept, silhouettes and fabrications you are looking for while at the fabric shows. This way you can order sampling to test early on while making muslins. Try to have your ideas and details hashed out before starting your first samples.
2. DEVELOPMENT OF PATTERNS & SAMPLES – Block a time for development and STICK to it! Think through every detail in terms of fit, construction, fabrication and be decisive. It’s easy to keep designing but there is a moment when you have to say yes or no and move on. You should strive to go through 1 or 2 rounds of this and then proceed to final samples.
3. SAMPLE MAKING – Make sure you give your sample room or factory ample time and all the trims that they need. They get booked up and you want to make sure your garments are sewn properly so you will have an accurate sample to show the buyers.
4. SHOW DATES/ SAMPLES READY - Where are you showing (NY fashion week, a booth at a trade show such as Coterie, D&A, or at a showroom)? Do you need one set of sales samples or more? Do they need to go to the showroom or be photographed for a look book? (BTW - It’s always good to shoot the clothes before they go to the showroom or show as it can often be hard to get them all back as sales doesn’t like to relinquish them).
5. SALES DATES - There is a certain time frame the collection will be shown during market, which occur during set times in various locations. Are you doing more than one market? LA & Paris shows are later than NY. Do these dates interfere with your fabric ordering? Are you able to project your fabric buy? You may have to in order to get your fabric in on time.
6. FABRIC – How long does it take for your fabric to arrive? Is it a stock item or does it need to be woven/knitted from scratch? Most production fabric coming from Italy takes 8-10 weeks but could even be 10-12. Lab dips for custom colors will add time to this. Add in time for an approval cutting before they ship bulk so you make sure that your fabric is finished correctly. Consider their Holidays—Italy is usually closed for the month of August. Not ordering fabrics on time is a fatal error because when fabric ships late, factory gets it late, factory ships late, you ship late and lose credibility and business. All of this can be avoided if carefully planned for.
7. TRIM – Don’t forget the trim! Does it need to be special ordered? Certain colors, finishes, sizes etc. take extra time. Make sure when you sample that you know what the delivery date (and minimum) is to order more trim if they are out of stock.
8. PRODUCTION - How long will it take to produce the clothing? (be realistic J) Add two weeks to this time for extra cushion. Factories are busy so the sooner you get your cut work in the better off you are. Don’t let holidays take you by surprise - Chinese New Year, European Christmas or summer holidays can seriously bum you out and mess everything up if you do not allow for that extra time so add accordingly.
9. DELIVERY DATES –While this is the last step, this should be the first date on the calendar during which everything will be planned backwards from. For example:
- Fall 7/30 & 8/30
- Spring 1/30 & 2/28
TIP: Make sure it is clear if you offer an ex warehouse delivery date or an in store date. Also note that department stores have special procedures for shipping so take note that this often will take time to set up, and may even require outside help. Stores will cancel orders if they are late and you will be left with product.
Working backwards from the above list will help you stay organized and keep realistic goals for sample making and production.
Best of luck planning!
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO START A FASHION BRAND?
Isn't that the million dollar question?
Unfortunately there isn’t one answer to this question. The answer depends on many aspects such as the product type, target market, price point, business concept, strategy etc.
In order to build a strong fashion business with real chance in being successful you must spend money to make money!
Just like with any other business.
More so, with the complexity of creating a product from scratch you can’t cut corners and you’ll need to plan ahead.
By planning ahead I don’t mean creating a wish list with what you’ll hope would happen re: I would like to sell in 50 stores in the first season, be profitable after the first year, have a markup of 80% etc. I mean a detailed, well thought of, step by step plan with a strategy, milestones and cost for executing the plan - in other words, you need a business plan.
The biggest financial challenge that start-up fashion brands face (which unfortunately most of them are either not aware of or simply ignore) is cash flow. As a fashion brand you are creating a product from scratch and are responsible to pay upfront for everything involved in making the product, you will than wait anywhere from 3-6 months before your customers pay you for the product and In the meantime you will also need to pay for the development of your next season.
This can adds up to a big investment,
For example, although you might only need 10k to start the business and develop your first season you will still need maybe 100k as an investment to get you through the first 2 years considering the circle of cash flow described above.
Than how can you figure out what it will cost you to start your fashion brand? Here are the steps to help with that:
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LAUNCH A FASHION BRAND?
Similar to cost, the time question does not have only one answer and the answer depends on different aspects of your brand, such as your product, your target customer/ market, your commitment and availability (time and money), your business concept, business strategy and more.
I’ve seen brands that launched in 6 months and others that took 5 years. I wouldn’t necessarily say that one had better chances to be successful than the other cause I have seen success stories with both scenarios.
Launching a fashion brand the right way means planning ahead carefully, having the right support system in place (service providers, financial backing, supporters etc.) and a 100% commitment to the project (it doesn’t mean 100% of your time, you can still have a full time job). Having these components in place will make a big difference in how quick can you can get your product to market.
Below are points that will impact how long it will take to launch your brand:
Author: Human B
Billi Doyle, I'm sharing info in this collective blog from various articles that have helped me in my retail business ventures thus far. Please feel free to share these with those who need help getting started in the apparel industry.