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A platform for Fashion Industry News| Business Advice Reviews | Resources

Friday, December 14, 2012

Video of the week - Harpers Bazaar on Marc Jacobs

Back seat with Harpers Bazaar, Derek Blasberg and co, who chat about Marc Jacobs's Spring/Summer 2013 fashion show at New York Fashion Week, and their own personal highlights and model inspirations.

Marc Jacobs show gathered a large audience including celebrities such as Kelly Osbourne and Ricky Martin.

What stands out the most is the strong sixties feel to the collection. Models walked down the catwalk in tailored skirt suits with thick stripes and bold patterns. The collection is outstanding as ever and very definitely Marc Jacobs!

Interested in Jacobs's street inspired or tailored looks? Then have a look at this video.

More photos from the collection:

What do you think of the Marc Jacobs collection?
Please leave your comments.

By Sophie Gunn

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pinterest Tips to Promote Fashion Brands

Pinterest, the virtual scrapbooking site, has become one of the fastest growing media platforms around, especially among women. Its visually driven content has led to millions of fashion brands and retailers to use Pinterest to promote their goods as it can prove to be a valuable way to build brand awareness for a fashion label.

I like it because it's also one of the easiest platforms to set up and maintain!

Below are my 5 tips to help you get the most from Pinterest:-

1. Plan a range of boards
First research what your target customer is pinning and other pins, boards and brands that are getting results. Then decide on the themes for your range of pin boards.

Create pin-worthy content. Pinterest is a highly effective tool to share your personality and unique view of the world, all while building a relationship with your existing and potential customers.

Choose great images and videos from your blog - you may - want to consider adding a watermark with your website URL to each of your own images, so that pinners know where it originally came from. Fashion favourites, travel destinations, exhibitions and things that inspire you work well on Pinterest. If you're selling a product then add the price to the pin description. If you want to pin an image from other sources, be sure to ask permission, or make sure the image is royalty free.

It’s good to mix personal content while marketing your business, so try to incorporate your Pinterest content into your blog or website. For example, if you sell jewellery, make your product images as attractive as possible so people will want to buy (and re-pin) them. What you want is for people to find something on your board they emotionally resonate with and repin to their board. This will increase exposure to your board, and ultimately your brand.
Fashion Angel Pinterest Board

2. Start pinning.
In addition to giving your website visitors something pretty to pin, visit other sites and pin, comment and repin their images as you browse online. You don’t want to limit yourself to just pinning your own images, as it will seem too self-promotional and could turn off other users. Plus, the more you can show your audience what a great authority you are in your field, the more you’ll establish yourself in your niche. Tag other pinners by name and say thank you for repins.

Another example: if you’re a footwear designer, you could create boards devoted to historical shoe designs you love, photos of your designs worn by celebrities, images of outfits you think work well with particular shoes, your inspiration behind a forthcoming collection etc.

Being creative and genuine will help build your Pinterest following, which ultimately boosts your business’s potential reach.
Fashion Angel Pinterest Board

3. Get your pins found. 
Consider what content will bring users to your pins and what you want them to take away (repines). Add categories, keywords, hashtags and urls to make your profile and pins SEO-friendly.

Optimize your website for pinning by encouraging your website visitors to pin your content by adding a “pin it” icon to every page of your website. This will let anyone on your site repin any image on your site they might like. Before you do this, you will want to put your website on Pinterest and make sure that the images on your site are “pinnable”. If you’re not sure about this, ask your web designer.

Once you’re up and running, you can then post a “follow on Pinterest” button (available on the Pinterest goodies page) on your blog, email signature, and integrate Pinterest share buttons on your other social media platforms.

4  Host a competition on Pinterest.
Several businesses large and small have hosted “pin-to-win” contests on Pinterest, which can create a tremendous amount of viral excitement around your Pinterest presence. When you get comfortable with Pinterest, you might want to give this strategy a go. Everyone loves free stuff, so the cooler the prizes you offer, the more excited people will be to share with their followers.
I’ll be covering tips on running a successful contest in a future blog.
Fashion Angel Pinterest Board

5: Keep at it. 
As with all social media sites , it require maintenance. If you decide to start a Pinterest board, it’s important that you stay in the game, rather than starting and forgetting your Pinterest account. Dormant Pinterest boards won’t attract new followers. If you download the Pinterest App for mobile/tablet and add the Pin It button to your browser it makes it easy for you to create and add boards wherever you are. You can use the dead time in between meetings or sitting on a train
to browse and add new pins .

If you want to learn more about Pinterest and how social media and blogs in general can help promote your fashion brand, you’ll find our forthcoming Social Media for Fashion Brands talk on 30th January very useful. We’ll be joined by fashion blogger Lois Waller from Bunni Punch and Fashion Communications lecturer Jayne Sheridan.

Tickets are FREE for Fashion Angel Business Club members or £18 for non members. You can book online on the Fashion Angel Events page.

Have you joined Pinterest yet? How do you use it to promote your business?
Please share your tips and experiences with us.

By Alison Lewy
Follow Me on Pinterest

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cara Delevingne: Britain’s Model of the Year

Cara Delevingne, 20 year old British Fashion Model wins award for Model of the Year.

Face of vogue.

She is currently the face of Burberry's beauty campaign, and has also worked with  other companies such as H&M, Victoria Secret, Shiatzy Chen, Jason Wu, Oscar de la Renta, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Stella McCartney and Chanel.

Burberry beauty campaign.

Words from Mario Testino “She’s great, I work with her on all the Burberry ads. She is like the new Kate in a way, if you think of her personality and energy and attitude.”

By Sophie Gunn

Video of the week - how to dress for the Christmas party season

Dont know what to wear to your christmas parties this year?
In this video stylist Nicole Smallwood talks to Head of Design at Monsoon Sheradene Rose to give you some tips!
I love the short cream dress, with a mixture of textiles. The feathers really stand out and make the dress look very pretty.
Dont forget, wear a lot of sequins and embelishment this christmas!
By Sophie Gunn

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Using Trade Marks To Protect Your Business

Your brand is an important and valuable asset!

This weeks guest blog is by Tahir Basheer, a partner at Sheridans law firm and advises clients in a wide variety of sectors on brand protection. Tahir shares with us his top tips on using trade marks to protect your brand.

'Your brand is the part of your business that communicates to the outside world who you are, the quality of your goods and services, and your company’s image. One way of protecting your brand is through registering it as a trade mark. Trade marks are also a valuable asset for your company.

  1. Why register? Registered trade mark protection gives the registered proprietor the exclusive right to use the brand. Furthermore, the trade mark registration is evidence that the registered proprietor is the owner of the brand.  Once registered trade marks last for an initial period of 10 years (for the UK at least).
  2. Protecting your brand identity It is possible to register most names, slogans and logos as trade marks. The more distinctive the trade mark the more likely it is to be registrable and also the stronger trade mark protection you will have once it is registered.    Therefore, it is important to identify the key aspect of your brand identity and seek to protect it.
  3. Picking your goods and services of interest Trade Marks are registered in respect of goods and services divided into groups called classes. A carefully and strategically drafted specification will be important for both brand protection and brand exploitation.
  4. Select your key territories Trade marks are territorial in nature. Therefore, you should apply to register your trade mark in your key territories of interest. This may be where you are currently operating or where you have an interest in expanding in the future. Think about the territories where your manufacture and the territories where you exploit. If you have a number of territories of interest, we can advise on a trade mark filing strategy that will meet your brand protection needs whilst being sensitive to your budget.
  5. Make your brand work for you Once your trade mark portfolio is in place you can use these assets to work for you. You can licence your trade marks, or enter into franchise deals with, third parties in return for a royalty/receive share. You should note that in some territories, trade mark registrations are required before you can licence, commercially exploit or import goods into that market.
  6. Trade mark as an asset As well as licensing, trade marks can be bought and sold. A registered trade mark is an identifiable asset which attracts value. Therefore make sure your trade mark and its value are maintained.
  7. Recognising trade marks as value for money Whilst the application costs are upfront, given that the trade mark protection covers 10 years, spread out over the 10 year period they are good value for money.
  8. Preserving the value of your brand Once registered it is important to monitor any third party use of an identical or similar brand. Any unauthorised use may infringe your trade mark rights, which in turn affects the value of your company name and the business which the brand attracts. Therefore you should identify a strategy which deals with infringer's in terms of their risk to your brand.
  9. Important Notice Registering your company name with Companies House provides you some (albeit weak) protection to protect your brand. However, this does not give your business the same protection or benefits as a registered trade mark.
  10. Other strategies Consider protecting your brand through other means. This includes copyright and also registering domain names for your brand.

We are pleased to offer Fashion Angel Business Club members a 10% discount on our standard fees. For more information, please feel free to contact me on
T: 0207 079 0103, E: tbasheer@sheridans.co.uk.

By Tahir Basheer

Friday, November 30, 2012

JW Anderson wins the emerging talent award.

JW Anderson has done it, he has won the prestigious Emerging Talent Award at the British Fashion Awards. Presented by Pixie Geldoff, Anderson picked up his award at the ceremony in the London Savoy Hotel.
Earlier this year in September Anderson launched his collection for Topshop, which will also be followed by a collaboration in early 2013.
Topshop Design By JW Anderson
His design signatures are
"Things that can be borrowed from a man to a woman and from a woman to a man." I love this way of looking at fashion, there is no reason why a man can’t get all glammed up, and why women cant wear suits these days!
Anderson has a loyal celebarity following, his clothes have been seen on Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe, Rita Ora and Leigh Lezark.
Rita Ora wearing JW Andersons Cabel knit jumper.
JW Anderson is now collaborating with Dontella Versace by
creating a capsule collection for Versus. His collection will include both womens and mens Ready To Wear and accessories. The collection will be unveild around March or April next year and sold at top department stores worldwide as well as being sold online at Versus.it. Versace has stated "I saw something different in what he was doing, a real desire to push forward. I think Jonathan is a perfect fit for this inaugural capsule collection. In addition to being a talented designer, he's well versed with the new digital world and is, therefore, an ideal partner for our new direction."
JW Anderson has had a very busy year and personally I think he deserved the award, but do you agree?
By Sophie Gunn



Video of the week - Versace Men Spring/Summer 2013: Designer at Work Donatella Versace

The video I chose this week is from the Versace Menswear Spring/Summer for next year. The video features coverage of the runway highlights and some of what goes on backstage. Dontella Versace tells us about her new collection with the meaning to send a message of strength through the mind body and clothes. She also says how she wants to deliver her message to the world: to fight for your dreams and goals in life.

Versaces garments have the style of gladiators using blacks, browns, whites and golds, reminding me of the baroque style which I love at the moment!

What do you think of Versaces 2013 Spring/Summer style?

By Sophie Gunn


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Video of the week - Haiti's first fashion week.

Video of the week - This week i chose this video of Haiti's Latest Trends and Styles 2012 at their first ever fashion week!

Organisers say it is a chance to give the Caribbean island's image just a dash of much-needed glamour! It took place on November 8 through to November 11, 2012 at the five-star Karibe Hotel in Port-au-Prince.

The event featured more than three dozen different designers.

A model presents a creation by Haitian fashion and accessories designer Giovanna Menard during Haitian Fashion Week 2012

Please watch and feel free to give your opinions.

By Sophie Gunn

Friday, November 23, 2012

Do you agree that Miranda Kerr is the new Kate Moss?

Australian supermodel 29 year old Miranda Kerr married to Orlando Bloom, started her professional modelling career back at the young age of 13. She has featured as the face of Maybelline New York and Levi’s jeans. Miranda has also been known as a Victoria Secrets ‘angel’ since 2006. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 Miranda has made it onto FHM’s ‘100 Sexiest Women’ Poll, as well as being number 1 on the Australian version in 2011. But this year, since the last Victoria Secrets show her status seems to have boosted and everyone is talking about her!

Miranda Kerr, Victoria Secrets Fashion show 2012

Spanish fashion retailer ‘Mango’ has made her become the new face of their company announcing that she will feature in print and video ad campaigns for them. Miranda posted in the labels blog, "Mango is a brand that I love. You always find the perfect garment for every occasion!"

Mirada Kerr shooting for Mango.

Miranda is joining the long line of supermodels being Kate Moss, Milla Jovovich, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Claudia Schiffer and Christy Turlington who have all also represented the brand.

It is great to see the Model doing something she enjoys so much, she has said, ‘I am delighted to be collaborating with Mango for the spring/summer 2013 season. We had a great time shooting the campaign and it was very easy working with the entire team.’

                                         Here is an interview with the model Miranda Kerr.

I think Miranda is a beautiful model and perfect for the Fashion retailers Mango, but what do you think?

By Sophie Gunn








Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fashion Angel and Poq Studio - Increasing online fashion sales with mobile apps

Last week we hosted another of our vibrant networking talks, this time focusing on how mobile websites and apps are revolutionising online shopping, Smartphones are becoming a force to be reckoned with for the industry, with over  25 % of online searches relating to fashion brands come from a mobile device.

We discovered how easy it is for a fashion brand to now have their own mobile app and make sure they are not being left behind and benefiting from changing buying patterns of consumers.

The evening started off with a short presentation from Michael Langguth, co-founder of mobile app developers Poq Studio. This set the scene and showed us that its isn’t necessary to spend a lot developing your own app – it’s much simpler and more cost effective to use an existing platform.

After the presentation, Sonja Todd from jewellery brand Tatty Devine joined us for the panel discussion. Tatty Devine launched their own mobile app around 10 months ago and have seen their online sales increase as a result.

First we discussed how to decide whether your brand is ready for a mobile app or not. This is fairly simple as Google Analytics allows to see whether traffic to an existing website is coming from. If you see that a lot of traffic is coming via  a smartphone then you can assume that a mobile app will benefit your business as your target audience are engaging with you this way.

One of the key benefits with an app is the ability to use push notifications as a way to drive sales on your app (it’s like text messaging your customers!).

As ever, good product images are essential – its important to have a few shots of each images so the customer can see the product from different angles, and also to have clear descriptions with key measurements.

As you’d expect some brilliant tips came out of the discussion

Sonja’s top tips for improving online sales:
  • Use Twitter to woo celebrities – and then make the most of any famous connections 
  • Listen to your customers and see what they want
  • Use social media to respond– be as quick and as helpful as possible
  • Find the channels that work for you and stick to them, but don’t be afraid to experiment
  • Clever discounting can work wonders and boost sales 
Keep your product ranges tight – especially if you are a small brand

Michael’s top tips on getting mobile:
  • Check your webshop stats to see how much mobile traffic you’re currently getting
  • First step is a mobile website which will work on all platforms. Then an iPhone/iPad app is a must for online businesses that want to grow.
  • Choose your developer carefully – ask to see their portfolio to check that they’ve made apps before.
  • Don’t be scared – mobile is a great opportunity!
For those that were unable to make the event, Michael’s full presentation is below

Interested in getting your own mobile shopping app and website?  If you’re a fashion or design brand thinking about taking the plunge into mobile, we have arranged a special offer for you with Poq Studio.

They are offering an amazing 30% off the set-up cost and first three months of mobile shopping solutions. Click here to take advantage of the offer.

A big thank you to Michael and Sonja for making the evening such as a success.

Our next event The Shoe Lounge is on 5th December and focuses on setting up a successful footwear brand.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top tips for fashion designers on getting good PR and their designs worn by celebrities

We held an informal talk on PR and Product Placement and were joined by PR practitioner Alison Lowe from Felicities, and freelance music and celebrity stylist Aimee Croysdill.

Aimee is a successful stylist who liaises with record labels, music videos, press shoots, styling for staging and red carpet events. During the talk she explained that if you are a designer looking to get known you should:

Forge a relationship with stylists- when your garment is used for a shoot or video, your designs will be noticed by many people in different areas of the industry.
Take a chance with new music artists- they may be up and coming but could be the next 'big thing' so this could be very beneficial for promoting your brand. Mulberry noticed Lana Del Ray and now they have named a best selling bag after her.
Fashion shoots are fast paced- garments may not come back in the same quality they left you, if a garment is very precious to you, only lend to editorial shoots.
Social networking is important- most stylists have a Twitter account and are on other social network sites such as Facebook and Pinterest, so make sure you are always following and interacting with them.
High profile events- If you know there is a big event coming up, contact the stylist in your network to see if they need anything for their clients. Let them know what you have available to borrow at that time.

                                 'Pixie Lott - What do you take me for' styled by Aimee Croysdill

Alison Lowe has run several successful businesses including Felicities, a specialist PR and business support agency for emerging fashion talent. As well as having her own business, Alison provides PR and business support to a range of emerging fashion brands. Alison's tips on generating PR for your business were:

Communicate- talk to everyone and anyone about what you do, you never know what contacts people may have.
Know your target market- look through magazines and find styling that suits you and then get hold of the stylist of these shoots. If you want to be a credible designer, put your garments on credible models.
Social networking- Emails to journalists regularly go straight into spam mail so try and build relationships on social networking sites whenever you can.
Use Twitter and Pinterest- ‘Twitter and Pinterest are the biggest things to hit fashion in... forever!’
Respond quickly to any press enquiries- make sure your images are not large file sizes so are quick to download. Large files should be sent via a http site such as Dropbox.
Press releases should always be straight to the point- journalists do not need to know your inspiration, your garments should stand up for themselves. Make sure you keep the information as back up ready if it is needed for interviews.

Alison Lowe, Alison Lewy and Aimee Croysdill
-Talk to everyone
-Use social media to build relationships NOT to bombard people
-Respond to opportunities ASAP, people will not wait around for you
-Target your audience
-Have sturdy samples with nice labels, good quality zips and materials

To find out about more of our events, sign up to our newsletter or go to our
fashion angel events page:

By Sophie Gunn

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fancy winning a copy of Design Create Sell - a guide to starting and running a fashion business?

We're super excited about the launch of our new Twitter competition.

3 lucky winners will receive a copy of  Design Create Sell - a guide to starting up and running a fashion business.

All you have to do is retweet this message:-

We've got 3 copies of Design Create Sell to give away. RT #fashionbook & follow to win. Who doesn't want help with their fashion biz?? 

This essential guide, written by Alison Lewy, fashion industry expert and founder of fashion business accelerator Fashion Angel, will give readers an overview of the fashion industry and what makes it tick. It will guide them through the issues they need to think about before they start and take them through the key steps involved in setting up a new business.

Readers will learn how to conduct the research needed for their business plan and get practical guidance on building their brand, getting their product made, marketing & PR and how and where to sell products. This comprehensive book will inspire fashion lovers to turn their dream into a reality!

Can't Wait? You can order the book now from the Fashion Angel Shop

Competition Terms & Conditions

     Fashion Angel is solely responsible for all aspects of the competition
     Participants must follow @FashionAngel1 and use the #fashionbook so we can  DM the winners
     Entries close: 23.59 on Monday November 12th 2012
     Open to UK residents only
     No cash alternative. Prizes are non-transferable
     Only one entry per person
     Entrant’s data is covered by UK data protection laws
     The winner will be announced on the FA homepage and through its social media networks.
     Entrants acknowledge that by entering the competition they are authoring Fashion Angel to contact them with relevant information.
     Entrants’ data will not be passed to third parties.
     Fashion Angel reserves the right to withdraw, change or cancel the competition at any time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fashion meets Technology - Highlights from the Fashion Decoded conference by Alison Lewy

I had the pleasure in attending the first London Fashion Decoded conference on Thursday. The goal of the conferences, which launched in NYC in April, is to promote creative collaborations between the fashion and technology sectors.

The event was even more poignant considering the organiser Liz Bacelar, and chair Dirk Standen from Style.com,  managed to get to London from New York despite all the problems caused by Hurricane Sandy. It was a tribute to Liz and her team that she managed to run such a successful the event even though soem speakers didn't make it and she must have been very concerned about friends and relatives.

The first panel discussion was on the Future of Runway in the digital age with designer Henry Holland, On/Off founder Lee Lapthorn, Erik Torstenson from The Saturday group and Gillian Harding Morre from Fashion GPS.

The question posed by moderator Noelle Reno was - are catwalks relevant in the digital age?

 Key point to come out of the discussion:-
  •  For some designers, such as House of Holland, a physical catwalk will always be important as the whole theatre and buzz of an event is key to building the brand.
  •   Live streaming of most on schedule catwalk shows means the opportunity is there to reach a wider audience and gives consumers a chance to feel the excitement around the shows
  •  Burberry was acknowledged as the game changer by being the first to invest heavily in technology and allowing customers to order at the same time as watching the shows.
  •  Lee felt whilst it was undoubtedly necessary for some high end luxury labels, it depends on their brand positioning. The costs are often prohibitive without sponsorship which is becoming harder to attract. There are now viable alternatives to show a collection via digital catwalks with the advances of 360 technology and this method of showcasing will be adopted more and more in the future.
  • There is also something to be said for the Tom Ford approach – just inviting the really key buyers and press to a small presentation as in reality probably on 50 people attending shows are important buyers or press.
  • Erik suggested that as consumers were able to watch and even order items from catwalks as they are live streamed the next step could be that designers could reserve a number of seats for key buyers/press at their shows, and then charge customers/fans to attend, as a way of financing the shows.
I was so delighted that the fashion tech keynote interview was with Aslaug Magnusdottir from Moda Operandi, as have been interested in their business model since they launched in February 2011. Moda Operandi really did disrupt the fashion industry hierarchy by providing customers immediate access to runway collections. A summary of how they have become so successful:-
  • As soon as a designer’s catwalk show has taken place, their team photograph the collection which is then uploaded to the site within 48 hours.
  • The beauty of this is that customers pay 50% deposit and the balance on delivery which helps the designer finance the production.
  • When they started they were told it would never work but they now have over 350 brands featured on the site.
  • The US and UK designers were supportive from the beginning but the French designers were the hardest to convince.
  • They have a very clear idea of their target customer – their average customer is a high net worth female age 43.
  • The average ticket price is $800 and average customer spend per transaction is £1300
  • The high level of customer service is paramount to their success - personal stylists are on hand to advise their customers on making the right purchase and putting ‘looks’ together.
  • They use archival packaging so the customer receives their purchase beautifully packed.
  • When they first started around 50% of customers used the stylists but now customers are more confident buying from the site its around 20% and tend to be the high spending repeat customers.
  • Next stage of their business development is the launch of in season product later this month.
  • Although an online business, they do see having a physical presence too is important for brand building – they host trunk shows to promote their designers and customers can get advice from their personal stylists.
  • They are also planning to open up a pop up store in Brazil in March which will heavily feature London based designer brands.
  • Social media is very important to them, particularly Pinterest which they use to build interest around their designers – it’s a common misconception that high end customers don’t engage with social media.  

This point was reiterated in a later interview with by Tracy Yaverbaun, Facebook’s Director of Fashion and Luxury partnerships. Their research has shown that high net worth consumers spend a disproportionate amounted time on Facebook compared to other traditional media. To prove the point they have run very successful campaigns with both Tiffany and Cartier.


One message came through loud and clear throughout the whole day – the future is mobile - all the businesses represented on the various panels were heavily investing in their mobile technology and strategies. According to Martijn Bertisen, Head of Google Retail UK/IE, by Christmas 40% of fashion related searches will come from a phone.  

The popularity of our M-commercefor Fashion Retail talk on 14th November shows that SME fashion businesses are also realising this is something they cannot ignore. If you want to book a place go to our Fashion Angel Events page.

Next week part two of my personal highlights talks about The Fashion Pitch section.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting it Made - Part 2. Deciding whether to use UK or Overseas production.

In my last post I already talked about how you go about selecting the right manufacturer for your fashion business. But should you use a UK supplier or one based overseas?

It is usually practical and cost-effective to produce goods overseas if you are ordering large quantities. If you are manufacturing offshore, it is helpful if you can produce your first samples in the UK to ensure you get the pattern and the fit right; this will minimise the chances of mistakes when the full run is then made offshore. Consider getting manufacturing quotes for both UK and overseas production so that you can offer competitive prices to a buyer wanting to place a large order.

The benefits of producing overseas

1. Costs: offshore production is generally more cost-effective, especially when producing large volumes. Production costs will vary from country to country.
2. Machinery and technology: unfortunately there has been a lack of investment in manufacturing for many years in the UK, and offshore factories are more likely to have the most up-to-date machinery and CAD/CAM systems. This is particularly applicable to accessory and shoe production.
3. Large pool of skilled labour: some countries still have a pool of skilled labour of specialists workers, particularly in craft areas and embellishment. If the process is time-consuming, with cheaper labour you are able to be far more adventurous.

The disadvantages of producing overseas

1. Costs: economies of scale dictate that small volumes would not achieve favourable costs, and some factories have high production minimums. This is changing, however, and more and more overseas units are gearing up for smaller volumes. Also, you will most likely be subject to currency fluctuations which can affect your profit margin.
2. Quality control: it will be harder for you to control your production. You will have to factor into the production cost your travel expenses to visit the factory. You can sometimes work through an agent; however, they will charge you a fee and it is not always easy to find an agent you can trust to adhere to your high standards.
3. Communication: does your factory have English-speaking staff, or can you speak the local language? How easy will it to communicate what you want? You also have to take into account the time differences and whether they have good broadband connections.
4. Logistics: if you are having samples made overseas you will have to allow for the courier costs of sending raw materials/toiles/samples back and forth. Some of this would be avoided if the factory are sourcing materials locally for you. When working out your production schedule you must allow shipping time (could be several weeks) and also be prepared for production getting delayed or goods stuck in customs. Transport, delivery and insurance costs will also need to be factored in.
5. Cash flow: until you build a relationship with a factory, they may well want 30 per cent payment upfront and the final payment when goods are collected.

The benefits of UK production

1. ‘Made in UK’ can add value to your brand.
2. Costs: your production costs may be higher, but you will have more control over them and they won’t fluctuate.
3. Smaller quantities: UK factories are more willing to produce small quantities.
4. Control: you will be on hand to check the quality and deal quickly with any problems that may arise.
5. Communication: you still have to be organised with your production processes, but communication will be much easier.
6. Scheduling: you will be able to produce orders more quickly as you won’t have to allow extra shipping time.
7. Delivery costs: these can be kept to a minimum and you don’t have to worry that your goods will get stuck in Customs.

Disadvantages of UK production

1. Cost: labour costs are far more expensive in the UK, and therefore the price of production will be higher.
2. Skilled labour: the situation is improving, but manufacturing has been in decline and therefore it can be hard to find good sample and production machinists and cutters. Craft workers for processes such as embroidery, appliqué, etc, are also in short supply so costs may be increased and turnaround times may be longer.
3. Machinery: there is a lack of machinery investment, so it may be hard to get your product made.
4. Digitisation: manufacturing processes have been vastly improved with CAD/CAM systems. However, the cost of these systems has been prohibitive for many UK factories.
Consider getting manufacturing quotes for both UK and overseas production so that you can offer competitive prices to a buyer wanting to place a large order.

Buy Design Create Sell for £12.99

Published in association with Country Living magazine, Design Create Sell offers an overview of the fashion industry and a comprehensive guide to setting up and running a small fashion business, including sections on branding, money management, customer research, the production process and finding routes to market. It’s available from the Fashion Angel Shop for £12.99.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Diary of a Fashion Start up - Part 1

We are pleased to host a new series of guest blogs from Meeka Harrison-Topham who's blog my fashion start up chronicles the issues faced by an aspiring fashion business entrepreneur.

Business plan 101

Putting pen to paper and churning out a 15 page document mapping out the backbone of your business can be an excruciating task, despite the wealth of resources and guides at our finger tips via the web. To help me along the way, I decided a bit of interactive focus wouldn’t go amiss, so last Thursday I found myself biking over to Tottenham Court Road to attend a workshop run by Alison Lewy of Fashion Angel, entitled “how to write a business plan”, aimed at fashion design businesses.

While these kinds of workshops inevitably put forward the same guidelines and tips contained in business guide books which you can get for a fraction of the price, the money spent was well worth it  – as the interactive style workshop ensures that you come away with better presentation skills, a clearer idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your idea, and maybe a fruitful contact or two found through networking.

Here are some key points I took away with me from the workshop:

  • A business plan is essential to provide a clear structure for your business, as well as to create momentum and keep you along the right path.
  • Research is key, and will form the most labour intensive part of the process, from looking at your market segment, ideal customer, competitive field, price points, to targeted boutiques.
  • Financial forecasts can be brutal tasks, but are vital in order to draw all the aspects of the plan together in numerical form, and of course ensure that you make money!
  • Business plans evolve – they are not static, so keep on adding to it as your business grows and changes

The workshop put a useful amount of emphasis and time on how to put together financial forecasts, and to monitor cash flows – no doubt both the dreaded nemesis of any designer! So all in all a productive morning, and very useful to meet Alison, who has just written a book called “Design, Create, Sell”, offering advice on cracking the hard nut of the fashion industry, which I’m sure is vital reading…

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Getting it Made - Part 1. Tips for finding a manufacturer for your fashion brand

A challenge for anyone starting a small fashion business is finding a good, reliable manufacturer. This is just one of many fashion start-up topics addressed in my new book Design Create Sell, published by Brightword Publishing.

Every designer needs the skills and support of a reliable manufacturer if they want to scale up their business. Finding these factories can be difficult, so make sure that you use
any friends, contacts or professional networks, and scour the web to identify the best candidates. Once you have done your research and compiled a list of manufacturers, it is important to assess their suitability to be part of your network of suppliers. this can only be carried out by visiting their premises and seeing how they work.

When you visit a potential manufacturer, it isn’t just to assess the physical conditions and their manufacturing procedures, it’s also to get some idea of how organised they are. Look to see if all the trims for the factory’s dockets are kept clearly labelled in one place. Are the working areas clear of clutter and is their paperwork neatly arranged?

The UK Fashion and Textile Association has a directory of UK manufacturers called Getting it Made and there are some LinkedIn in groups, such as Made in UK, which are worthwhile joining. Our Fashion Angel Business Club also provides members with a useful suppliers directory, as part of their benefit package.

Find a manufacturer: a 10-point checklist

1. What other designers do they work for and do those designers have the same quality and pricing strategy as you?

2. What type of products and/or materials do they manufacture?

3. Do they have all the machinery you require?

4. Is the factory willing and able to make your quantities by your deadlines?

5. Are the factory’s health and safety, ethical and housekeeping working practices compatible with your business?

6. Can they achieve the quality that your customers expect, within the price that you can afford to pay?

7. Are the premises easy to get to? Will you be able to pop in if there is a problem?

8. Is the owner/manager the sort of person you can create a business relationship with?

9. Have you discussed, and do you understand, the factory’s payment terms? You are unlikely to get credit terms straight away, but if you stick to your part of the bargain and pay promptly then they may offer you credit in the future.

10. Now that you have compiled a list of potential manufacturers, you have to match the factory to the orders. If your collection is multi-category and includes, for example, jersey, denim and lightweight dresses, then your choice of manufacturer will be determined by their technical capabilities. If, when you visited them, they were making tailored woven jackets, are they going to be able to successfully make chiffon dresses?

  • The most effective way to select the right factory is on the basis of a sample that they make up of the style in question at a cost agreeable to you.
  • You want to avoid being totally reliable on any one supplier, so try to source an alternative as a back up.
Find out more about how to source and manage your sampling and production effectively at our GETTING IT MADE workshop on 3rd July 2013.

More about this topic and the processes you need to have in place when outsourcing your manufacturing is in the Design Create Sell book available
 for £12.99 in the Fashion Angel Shop.

By Alison Lewy

Friday, September 28, 2012


a guide to starting and running a successful fashion business

We are pleased to announce that Alison Lewy, experienced designer and founder of fashion business accelerator Fashion Angel, has released a brand new book  Design Create Sell, an essential guide to this fascinating industry which will give readers an overview of how it works and what makes it tick.

As demand for British fashion soars and the number of designers setting up fashion labels increases every year, Alison gives readers everything they need to start their own successful fashion business.

Produced by Brightword Publishing in partnership with Country Living Magazine, this book will guide readers through the issues they need to think about before they start and take them through the key steps involved in setting up a new business. Readers will learn how to conduct the research needed for their business plan and get practical guidance on building their brand, getting their product made, marketing & PR and how and where to sell products.

Alison welcomed the opportunity to write the book and support aspiring fashion businesses in this way:

“Setting up a new business is difficult and the fashion business model is unique and has its own challenges. I wanted to draw on my background of running a fashion brand, and experience of working with and mentoring designers , to produce a practical step by step guide to help fashion labels start, develop and grow their businesses.”

The book is being published as a celebration of the success of London Fashion Week  to support the designers that contribute to an  industry that contributes over £21 billion to the UK economy.*

With consumers in the UK spending over £30 billion each year on clothing, shoes and accessories, and with 33% of people saying they try to buy British when they can, now is the perfect time to turn that passion into a successful business!**

This comprehensive book will inspire designers to turn their dream into a reality!

*The Value of the UK Industry, The British Fashion Council / **Make It British

Published 30th September 2012 by Brightword Publishing,

ISBN: 9781908003348, Paperback/eBook, RRP: £12.99/£5
Available from the Fashion Angel Shop and in all good bookshops

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Announcing the launch of our new competition to win an online boutique and mentoring.

We are super pleased to announce the launch of a new competition for one lucky fashion brand or designer-maker to win an all expenses paid online boutique and receive one to one mentoring from boutique ecommerce platform, SupaDupa.me.

Continuing our commitment to helping fashion brands find new routes to market and increase sales, we have organised the competition to coincide with our  FREE networking talk and live demonstration How to set up an online boutique in 15 minutes taking  place in London on 5th September 2012.

The competition is open to fashion brands and designer-makers that book a place and attend the talk, which is part of the Fashion Angel’s regular programme of inspiring networking events for creatives.  

Entries will be judged by Fashion Angel Director, Alison Lewy and SupaDupa Co-Founder, Guy Schragger.  The winner will be announced at the event on 5th September 2012.

Competition information
The prize
6 months all expenses paid Caviar online boutique on the SupaDupa platform
1-2-1 business support session with the experts at SupaDupa
Deadline for entries: Tuesday 28th August 2012 
Finalist notified:  Thursday 5th September  2012

Entrants Criteria
Open to those attending the Fashion Angel networking talk How to set up an online boutique in 15 minutes 
To enter the award, entrants must complete the online application form , submit  two product images and in 100 words explain why their business would benefit from winning the competition. 

BOOK NOW - Spaces a strictly limited and on a first come first serve basis

Event information
How to set up an online boutique in 15 minutes
DATE: 5th September, 6.30 - 8.30pm 
Club Workspace, Clerkenwell Workshops 27/31 Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0AT

More information is  on our events page