The Fashion Knowledge Report
I’m trill to have Malie Bingham, Senior Designer at PVH, fashion career coach, founder of fashion resource site pickglass.com and judges for YMA to share with us on this issue of The Fashion Knowledge Report™! This regular publication will provide you with ideas, strategies and information to help you succeed in your fashion business.
1) When did you start being a mentor for YMA fashion scholarship fund and what what drove you to becoming a mentor?
I started working with the YMA (Young Menswear Association) three years ago. It is a wonderful organization that gives scholarships to students all over the country. In addition, all scholars can attend free networking events during the summers here is New York such as “Lunch with the boss” events. They are also connected with a mentor such as myself that they can meet with and ask questions throughout the year.
In the past with my scholars we have reviewed their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and went through interview prep. We also keep in touch throughout the year on what their experiences have been and what they are enjoying. It has been a very rewarding experience.
2) What are the top 3 advice you give to young designers?
First, I would say that you the best advice is to always be learning. There is always something new to learn. When you keep your mind open you will always be improving.
Second, keep the end in mind, but stay flexible. What I mean is you need to set clear goals for yourself. Then you need to make sure you are constantly moving towards that goal. Even if you do one simple thing a day to get a little bit closer. That being said, you need to be willing to be flexible with your goals. Things change and you may decide you want a different goal or you want to reach it in a different way.
If a designer is looking to up level their career a common goal might be to get a promotion or to learn a new skill such as take a class on a new computer system, learn a new product category, and managing experience will make them more marketable.
If a designer is looking to start their own collection then their goals might be to research local sample rooms and get quotes. Or research how to make a tech pack for your collection.
Finally, do something that is outside of your comfort zone regularly. It builds character! Seriously. Staying “safe” in your job or within your network of friends is the fastest way to become obsolete in this industry. You must strive to meet new people, collaborate, learn a new skill, or put yourself out there. And if you do this regularly it won’t feel so scary. Promise!
3) What advice do you give young designers on balancing creativity and commerciality?
There is a famous rule called the 80/20 rule. In the fashion industry it has been described in the following ways: You make 80% of your profit on 20% of your product. That 20% is what we call a core item. They are generally sold in mass quantity and are more basic commodities. So spend time getting your core items right. They may not be the sexiest thing you design, but these items will afford you the luxury of designing the fashion pieces that will build your brands aesthetic!
4) What skill set young designers should have before they start their own collection?
If someone wants to start their own collection they need to understand that design is just a small portion of the business. I highly recommend one actually spend some time in various capacities such as sales, sourcing, marketing or PR. You don’t need to be an expert, but it helps to have a basic knowledge in the area. Even if you are able to hire someone to fill these roles you will need to be able to lead them.
Also, study best practices. Learn from other people’s mistakes so you don’t have to. Listen to podcast, read biographies, join groups or organizations, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who have done it already.
Podcast I like:
How I Built This
Always in Fashion by Mark Weber
D.V. by Diana Vreeland
Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso
Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht
We will be sending out this report about every two weeks. If you are facing some challenges on your fashion business then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !