There has always been a pressure on young fashion designers to make a statement with their first collections. But how do you actually get it seen by the right people and create a collection without breaking the bank? Good thing we sat down with Elizabeth Solomeina – she had some useful tips on how to build your own fashion brand. Elizabeth is the Managing Director at Flying Solo, an innovative store and showroom in Soho, New York, representing independent fashion designers and selecting them for runway shows at Paris and New York Fashion weeks. Also, her jewellery brand, Solomeina Jewelry, has been featured in Vogue, The New York Times and L'Officiel. With over 10 years of experience in the fashion industry, we had a lot to talk about.
Here are some of the best insights from our chat:
ES: First of all, most young designers’ assumptions are that your first collection will be your best yet. That they will completely sell out and there is nothing that needs to change. With that mentality, they pay for a huge production run and then end up stuck with all this inventory they don’t know how to sell. There are so many potential variables out of your control when you first start out. For instance, manufacturers will try to convince you to do a big production run because they want to make more money from you. Start with a small sample run, sell it, then tweak the collection for the next production run. You don’t need to spend every last penny you have to make a big fashion statement with your next collection.
ES: Thanks Biria, that’s a great question. When you are young and in the position you are in right now, I would say double down rather than change anything. From fashion history, we know when people are suppressed and limited, there is a need to be creative and keep making. Some of the best collections are made when budgets are limited – keep making and when London Fashion Week returns, you will be ready. As a young designer, you are at an advantage compared to established fashion brands, as you don’t have big teams to pay or expensive business rates of owning a store. To be clear, when I say double down, I mean in terms of effort, not budget. Therefore, be resourceful and definitely double down on pushing your collection.
ES: Amazing, let’s do it!
ES: Create a newsletter, send it to all your friends, previous customers and your professional network – present them in the most beautiful way.
ES: On Instagram, direct message the top 20 stylists in the industry or anyone who works for the magazines you want to be featured in.
ES: Go through previous collections and assess what you already have. Whether its materials you can repurpose, always be resourceful with what you buy.
ES: Last year and this year, we have seen mid-size brands unfortunately die out, as they have been unable to pivot fast enough and change their business strategy. As for the next five years, this is good news for independent brands because there will be space for more young talent to grow their fashion brand.