Flying Solo: best tips to grow your fashion business

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:

FLA: Let’s start by talking about young designers who don’t know where to start with setting up a fashion brand and don’t have the business mindset yet to transform their passion project into a company. Over your career, what mistakes have you seen young designers make when they start out, and can you tell our audience how they can learn from these mistakes?

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.

We also invited young fashion designers to ask Elizabeth some questions. First up, we have Biria Carr who specialises in Menswear and tailoring: 

BC: Hi Elizabeth, I studied Fashion Design at Falmouth University two years ago, where I completed my final menswear collection. A lot of my inspiration came from New York nightlife in the 70s/80s so naturally there is a lot of colour, sparkle and texture in my garments. My challenge at the moment is selling a collection in the current climate in the UK – where no Fashion weeks are taking place and no one is clubbing. Until this changes, would you suggest I change my business strategy?

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.

FLA: Okay, we’re going to ask you to give some quick tips for all those young fashion designers out there. 

ES: Amazing, let’s do it! 

FLA: What’s one thing can designers do to sell one piece of their collection today?

ES: Create a newsletter, send it to all your friends, previous customers and your professional network – present them in the most beautiful way. 

FLA: How can you get your collection published in top magazines? 

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. 

FLA: One change you can make to save money when designing your collection. 

ES: Go through previous collections and assess what you already have. Whether its materials you can repurpose, always be resourceful with what you buy.

Our next fashion designer we spoke to was Dania Fraqair. 

DF: Hey Elizabeth, I started my fashion brand in Milan four years ago, where most of my pieces I create myself. As fashion brands we are pushing our collections by creating digital content. My question is, what do you see the future of fashion looking like in the next five years?

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.

If you want to learn industry insights from the fashion world, Elizabeth has curated our Build Your Fashion Empire course – view course details here


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