13 Areas of Knowledge You Should Learn As You Grow Your Fashion Business

Fashion business areas of knowledge

While all businesses require a specific set of skills, there’s a special knowledge cocktail that comes into play to grow a fashion business. You’re juggling the designing of a collection, the education of a centuries-old industry and how it works, the marketing, the finances, and a lot more.

Sometimes the hardest part is simply figuring out what it is that you don’t yet know; learning how to do it is actually step two.

Knowledge of Design

  • While talent is not a deciding factor, you do need to make things that are aesthetically pleasing; whatever that aesthetic may be. So work to polish your skills in this area.
  • There’s the need to have an understanding of fabrics; how they’re made, how they drape, how they hold up over time. Textile design is a part of fashion design and should be treated that way.

Knowledge of the Production Process

  • There’s the need to create tech packs and samples. Learn what they are and why they’re important, even if you’re going to hire someone to create them for you.
  • There’s the need to understand the grading, sizing, and the production process. What’s the process? Why does it need to be done?
  • There’s the need to learn the centuries-old industry talk and lingo. Learn to talk the talk so that you’re taken seriously by the industry veterans.

Knowledge of the Fashion Calendar

  • If  you’re following it then you need to understand the seasons, production dates, and buyer deadlines. There’s a process, it’s important to know it and decide whether you want to take part in it.
  • If  you’re not following it then you need to have a plan- are you season-less? Will you have signature pieces? Will you do monthly roll outs? Simply releasing new pieces at random may not be the best idea. Think about and plan for how you see your work being released.

Knowledge of Marketing

  • There’s the need to remember that marketing is more than just social media. Create a plan for how you’re going to spread the word other than using Instagram and Facebook.
  • There’e the need to figure out how to cut through all the noise in the space. What can you do to not simply be just another fashion brand?
  • There’s the non-negotiable need to understand branding and your customer. This is major. Spend time on this. Often.

Knowledge of Finance

  • There’s the need to understand the money; what’s coming in, what’s going out, how to price, how to figure out costing. The money situation should not be ignored. Even if you’re fearful of looking at the numbers, you need to do it anyway.
  • Fashion is an industry (the only industry maybe?) where you’re expected to not only put out the cost of production but then eat that cost (plus more) if the retailer doesn’t sell it and then refuses to pay for it. Charge-backs can ruin a fashion business. You need to understand how terms work and whether you’re willing to deal with all that.

The best way to get started is to write the things down that you don’t feel you have a handle on and create 2 or 3 tasks for each that will help you learn them. Will you join groups? Take classes? Find a mentor?

Would you like step-by-step guidance on how you can build your fashion business, detailed and specific resources for making things happen, and a support system of fellow designers who get it because they’re doing it too? That’s what we’ve got in the Independent Designer’s Community and we’d love to have you join us.

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Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

  1. Pam

    What are the 13 areas of knowledge again? I don’t see 13 bulleted in the article so I may be missing something. Thank you.

  2. Sandra Garretson

    Interested in more information.

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