Victoria Wright is a Philadelphia-based fashion designer who interned and freelanced for Walter, Rebecca Taylor, Urban Outfitters and Club Monaco. If you want to follow her, don't expect to get rich, but do expect to invest plenty of time and money to achieve your dream. It will take lots of networking and work, but seeing a satisfied customer can make the effort worth it. She offers five tips on how to design your own clothing line.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
"Know and accept that designing your own successful clothing line is NOT an easy endeavor. Ken Downing, creative director at Neiman Marcus, said it generally takes 10 years for your line to gain traction and to become well known. Overnight success stories are anything but. This is especially true if you are trying to start your line all by yourself. You will not only be designing clothes, but also sourcing fabrics and notions, keeping track of your finances, raising capital to fund your line, marketing your line, selling your own line, and more"
Stitch Yourself a Network
"Network and build a team of people to help you. In most creative fields it’s all about who you know. Don't be afraid to ask friends for help. Find the areas of running your business that you are having trouble with and see if anyone in your network can advise you or even join your management team. It really helps lower stress and helps you to spend more time on your strengths. You never know what connection will be able to get you in the door at a boutique you're dying to sell at, or into a magazine you've always dreamed about being in."
The Customer Is Always Right
"Know your customer, know your vision and stick to it. Research your target market and find out what sort of person you see wearing your clothes. What is their age? How much money do they make? What do they do in their leisure time? You can design an amazing and trendy silk mini dress that will look great on a 20-year-old model, but you have to know whether a 20-year-old can afford it. A less expensive material can bring the cost down to cater to a younger customer or lengthening the dress will make it better for a more mature customer with more disposable income."
Design a Plan to Save
"Gain as much experience as possible, and save up. Going to a fashion design school is incredibly helpful and important but not always necessary. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself is to work for another clothing company. Even unpaid internships can be invaluable." She said it's difficult to find factories willing to produce a limited number of garments, and when you do find one, the costs for fabric and work can get steep quickly. "The more capital you have stashed away, the better," she advises.
Your Clothes Are Your Life
"You have to really be passionate about your vision and about fashion in general. Having your own fashion line can be extremely difficult, expensive, time consuming, unglamorous and stressful. But if you are passionate about your vision and love to see your clothes make someone incredibly happy and beautiful, all the hard work, money, time, stress and tears will be worth it. Designing your own fashion line is certainly not for the faint of heart. Designing clothes is about sharing your vision with the world and helping other people express their individuality through your art form."
2016 Salary Information for Fashion Designers
Fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $65,170 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, fashion designers earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,020, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $92,550, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 23,800 people were employed in the U.S. as fashion designers.