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Starting my own label

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by Arethusa, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. Dill

    Dill Senior member

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    This thread is very informative. I want to bring up Trovata as an example of a fairly sucessful company started by four liberal arts undergrads with no fashion experience or training. IIRC, they just started putting stuff together and sent it to different stores. I believe they were first picked up by Barney's. I have never tried emailing them, but they would probably be willing to answer any questions you have.
     
  2. hermes

    hermes Senior member

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    ... even companies like "imitation of christ" that were taking preexisting items and deconstructing them really had a hard time making it in the marketplace and if you look at the company today, i believe only one of the two original designers are around and they design now, don't deconstruct (it's a limited market i guess)

    ... josia lamberto-egan at trovata responds back well to inquiries, albeit often in a highly obscured creative manner
     
  3. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Unfortunately, this is pretty much exactly how I feel as well. I wouldn't mind doing the prints separately, but beyond that, I don't know.

    Learn to cut and sew. Oh, and obviously how to make patterns. There are plenty of books on the former, and the latter you can try by starting from existing patterns. You will learn a lot about what is, and what is not possible, not have to go the tee-shirt and hoodie route (although there are plenty of good brands that start that way), and when it comes time to work with other people (the cutters, graders, etc...) for scaling up your production, you will be set.

    Another way to go about this is to open a retail store, and introduce (along with other brands) a first rate house line (first tees, hoodies, shirts, belts, and other things that can easily be Made-to-order, then more). Steven Alan, Opening Ceremony, Nom de Guerre, all started this way.
     
  4. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    The practice is the foundation. All creative work is supported by a foundation. Spend the next 10-15 years working on your practice, that is, the thing that is going to hold your work up.
     
  5. Jen

    Jen Senior member

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    In whatever way you prefer to do so, you need to educate yourself. Arethusa, it seems from your posts that you have an aversion to doing this which I do not understand. It is a common fallacy that ignorance breeds creativity. Picasso could replicate the great masters.

    Fashion design is not my profession, so feel free to correct my list of topics that one should know in starting a new business in fashion design.

    1-Fabric: All artists need to know their media. The choice of fabric is foundational to any piece, and you need to know what is available. IMO, this is Jay Allen's biggest strength. He was patient enough to get the chemistry right between the fabric and the dye.

    2-Diction: You need to be able to talk the talk if you are going to walk the walk. You must be able to accurately describe your work and your ideas. It is not just about sounding like an insider (this can help or hurt) but about communicating enthusiasm for your work and also giving your reps/retailers the language to describe it.

    3-Trends: What has been done (everything)...ok, then what has been done recently. You should follow the popular culture well enough to see the rise and fall of trends and to be ahead of the curve. I know, I know, your line won't be trendy, it will be timeless.

    4-Construction: You should be familiar with how garments are made even if you are not the one making them. You must be able to check QC on production or on the pre-fab products that you are choosing between. You want to make a good first-impression, and the buyers that you will be talking to know something about construction.

    5-Retail: As mentioned in 4, unless you plan to only hock your wares on the web, you are going to deal with retailers. It is useful to know something about their business as it will strengthen your position in negotiations. It goes without saying that you should know when to show your stuff (when the buyers are buying for fall, show fall!)

    6-Customer: Somebody needs to buy this stuff. You might want to figure out who would both wear your designs and have the money to pay for them. Then you can focus on retailers who attract those customers.

    7-Finances: This is a business after all. Unless you plan to hire an accountant, you should learn how to keep good records (everyone should know this) and become familiar with tax law for small businesses. Sure, you don't need to know about this when you're just printing runs of 30 t-shirts, but by the time you need to know, you'll be too busy to learn. You should also decide how you plan to raise initial capital. Good credit could get you a loan. If you don't have the money yourself, good samples and a good vision may be able to land you a backer (with some loss of creative control).

    8-Plan: What does success mean to you? If you have no plan, you just might end up a very bitter old man.
     
  6. Arethusa

    Arethusa Senior member

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    In whatever way you prefer to do so, you need to educate yourself. Arethusa, it seems from your posts that you have an aversion to doing this which I do not understand. It is a common fallacy that ignorance breeds creativity. Picasso could replicate the great masters.
    Where are you getting this? Seriously.
     
  7. Tck13

    Tck13 Senior member

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    There is something to be said for starting small also.

    T-shirts and hoodies would seem to be the easiest place to start with the least amount of money. One can purchase the shirts and have one's own design/s (or someone else's designs) put on the shirts. Sell the designs at local band gigs or local flea markets and that sort of thing. Very low investment / start up costs and some profit. My mother started a costume jewelry business this way. Eventually, after doing the flea market circuit for a year or two, she had enough money to open her own store.

    Another example would be Bill's Khakis. Bill took an already existing pattern (ww2 pants) and re-created them. One can use already existing patterns without having to create them from scratch. He then took the patterns to a local factory and they made the clothing using the fabric chosen. Resulting in a high quality, up to date, high end product which was not already on the market. He didn't re-invent the wheel, but tweeked it a little bit.

    This took some cash but did not involve patternmaking (or making one's own patterns as they already existed), sewing, computer designing, and many things associated with starting a full clothing line from scratch.

    It has all been done before but the up to date interpretation makes it seem like new again.
     
  8. tweedlesinpink

    tweedlesinpink Senior member

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    when people point to mcqueen, trovata, and all those other labels which worked their way from scratch to the top, they always ignore the millions of would-be labels who've failed miserably.

    just a thought.

    but i'd just hit it, arethusa. can't hurt, but just be realistic. i think you're taking this pretty sensibly.
     
  9. Jen

    Jen Senior member

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    Where are you getting this? Seriously.
    Your thread-starter for one, as well as your reaction to suggestions that you learn how to sew or study couture methodology.

    If that is not the case, you are the better for it...
     
  10. Max

    Max Senior member

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    Where are you getting this? Seriously.
    I'm fairly unconvinced that art schools are very much worth it. While they provide great technical instruction, technical instruction to the exclusion of basically anything else does not foster art; it creates craftsmen. I'm not really interested in that.

    ...
     
  11. jay allen

    jay allen Well-Known Member

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    Figured I would chime in here....give my 2 cents worth.

    I should start by saying that I don't have a LABEL, or a BRAND, and I'm certainly not arrogant enough to consider myself a DESIGNER. I design, and produce, interesting t-shirts and hoodies. I believe this to be an honorable thing to do....and something that I'm pretty freakin' good at.

    Do I have plans to expand my offerings to one day have a real LABEL....absolutely. Do I hope that LABEL one day becomes an actual BRAND....you bet. Am I aware that the chances of this happening are remote.....yes. Some of the stumbling blocks to doing this are:

    1. I have no fashion education - I sincerely wish I did. Unfortunately, at 45 years of age, with a wife and 3 children, it isn't going to happen. If I were your age Arethusa I would ABSOLUTELY learn the trade from the ground up. You can philosophize (not a word, I know) without a degree in philosophy. I'm sure of this...because I do it all the time. My coffee vs. tea post should be proof enough.

    2. I have no significant money. I don't mean to say that I'm starving to death because I'm clearly not. But to start a full blown brand takes an enormous amount of capitol. My plan is to become proficient at my craft and focus on a very small, well defined, segment of the market. If I can do that...it will allow me to expand my offerings into that market because I will at least have access to the decision makers......which is as important as the product itself. If this ever comes to pass...I will hire people that have skill sets that augment my own. Fill in where I'm weak so to speak. I have no shortage of ideas....it's almost a curse, but being able to take those ideas from my diseased brain and articulate them well enough to ever reach a retail floor will require technically proficient people working with me. It has taken me over a year just to get people to talk to me. Much of this was accomplished through my association with Fok....the rest through attending the Pool show.

    3. The other reason I may never have a BRAND is that I may not be good enough. It really is that simple. I love playing basket ball....and was pretty good...up here in Maine. I was also a damn good football player.....up here in Maine. But being 6'2" and 235 lbs doesn't go very far if you are a power forward, and gets you no where if you are a defensive end. My point is....I may be good at what I do (and I believe I am) but I may not be GREAT at what I do. Is this going to stop me.....hell no. I have developed a skill set that allows me to play the game. Only time will tell if I'm good enough to play with the big boys. I can tell you this....I'm not scared of the big boys....and have always been willing to fail. If you aren't willing to get your ass kicked from time to time....you may as well not even start....because it WILL happen.

    A couple of other thoughts in no particular order:

    1. You have to be obsessed with this business. If you aren't...don't even start.

    2. Your project will have a far greater chance of success if you some education in the field. I don't think that education HAS to come from a school...it could be as an intern, or apprentice.....get a job with a screen printer if you are interested in that sort of product. Just immerse yourself in the field. DO NOT do what I did.....lock yourself in a shop for a year and figure everything out on your own. It sucks....it's stupid.....and while it may actually pay off in my case....it really is the hard way to do it.

    3. Have a point of view....set the trend, don't follow it. I can tell you that my experience at the Pool Show confirmed that for me. There were probably 300 t-shirt brands there. If you took the signs off the booths...you would have thought 250 of them were the same company.

    4. Start small....start with one piece.....this business can be overwhelming if you are trying to launch an entire line. Remember...Project Runway is a TV show. Not many people can live with no source of income.....fighting and crying on a daily basis.....and produce a fully mature line of apparel in just 3 months. Hell....even they couldn't do it.

    5. I believe Jen mentioned getting a handle on the business side of things. That is good advice. The restaurants of NY and LA are fully staffed with people that have great design skills......and no clue how to run a business.

    OK...I've rambled long enough. The bottom line is that this business isn't something you dabble in. You are either all the way in....or you are wasting your time. Make sure you actually enjoy the work and not just the perceived lifestyle. Believe me....it ain't that glamorous.
     
  12. Horace

    Horace Senior member

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    From what I can tell, they didn't do this just to waste time and money, but to gain contacts and credibility in a very difficult industry.

    Every person I know who attended an art school (post-graduate) said they did it for the reasons you ascribe, contacts and cred. Plus, too often, in my experience at least, artists are "lazy" when it comes to their own PR -- and so having a built-in network helps. Few people seem to have both intellectual/artistic talent and hustle.
     

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