8 Ways for Retailers to Discover Emerging Designers

Emerging Designer David Peck
Emerging Designer David Peck

The search for new and upcoming talent, like anything, can be daunting. Keeping things fresh and showcasing new lines on a consistent basis is vital to keeping your customers interested and excited about what’s next for your boutique.

If you’re lucky enough, an emerging designer will reach out to you first, but in most cases you’ll have to find the time to do your own research and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Have a look at our round-up of 8 ways for retailers to discover emerging designers:


There are many Colleges and Universities across North America that offer fantastic Fashion Design programs. Often, they will feature their best talent on their website and within their newsletters and include contact information.

Create a reminder for yourself to check them out periodically for updates if there isn’t an option for you to subscribe.

Additionally, the majority of these schools put on fashion show events at the end of a semester or at year end as part of the student’s final grade. Make a note of when these events are happening and try to attend. If you can’t attend, get in touch with a professor and ask if it might be possible for you to be sent photos and/or line sheets upon completion.

Social Media

We hope by now everyone has a general understanding of how important a social media presence is. You can certainly count on new designers, especially those just graduating from college or university, to have their information posted electronically whether on a website, on a blog, or on their own Facebook page.

By using some creative search words (or hashtags, if you’re searching via Twitter or Pinterest) like “emerging designer” “independent designer” or “new fashion designer” you’re sure to be able to find an overview of general information and do a deep dive from there.

If you’re using a platform like LinkedIn, searching “fashion designer” will bring up thousands of results from people worldwide who have this listed on their resume.

While you’re there, check out the discussions happening inside of groups like “Fashion & Lifestyle Industry Professionals Worldwide” or “Sustainable Fashion Designers” and see if you can join in on a conversation about emerging talent.


There are all kinds of fashion specific websites, (like Fashionista.com and StartUp FASHION, of course!) blogs, and magazines who’s writers take the time to highlight up and coming designers. Google these publications and subscribe so you are always informed when a new post is published.

This works great because the majority of the work is already done for you. Instead of searching through millions of potential designers, these articles put a personality to a name and will tell you all about the designer’s aesthetic making it easy for you to determine if they will be a good fit.

Post an Ad

Looking for new talent? Shout it out! Although it’s possible that out of 100 responses, only 1 might be what you’re looking for, but it would be worth it, wouldn’t it?

Schools often have job posting boards where you can put up a flyer letting students know you’re searching for local designers to carry in your boutique and offer to meet with them.

You could also post an ad like an “open call” in trade publications, on your website, on any of your social media platforms, in your local newspaper or on a free site like Craigslist. We probably wouldn’t recommend doing this as your only search method, but it might be a good practice to get the word out that you do accept submissions from new designers.

To take this one step further, consider hosting a contest for new talent and ask for a volunteer panel of judges to come on board and help you sort through submissions. This way, you’ll still be receiving all of the applications but you’ll have a team to assist you with sorting through them. It will also create buzz around your boutique and may send new customers your way.

Local Events

Every city, whether big or small, hosts charity fashion shows throughout the year for various causes. As well, there are all sorts of markets, small business events, vendor events, tent sales and arts & crafts showcases where people pay to show off their wares.

Although it may not be advertised as such, any of these platforms provide emerging designers with access to crowds of people in a matter of days, a lucrative opportunity for anyone just getting into the business.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in your community and make sure to attend as many as possible. Even if you don’t find your next great designer to feature, networking with business owners and getting the word out about who you are and what you’re looking for is always time well spent. If you’re unable to attend in person, reach out to the organizers and ask them if they can provide you with a list of vendors so you can do some searching on your own.

Trade shows

There are hundreds of large trade shows throughout the year held specifically to introduce designers to retailers (check out our list, here: ) if you can afford the time and cost to attend some of the more popular ones like MAGIC it is always well worth the effort.

Due to their large marketing budgets all of these events have an excellent rundown of information on all of the vendors who have participated for you to have a look at before, during and after the events.


Reach out to retailers who sell to a similar target market (whether in your local area or across the country) and ask where they discover their new talent. They may be able to point you in the direction of a resource you haven’t considered and there is no better advertising than word of mouth. Business owners are generally willing to help others out and would relish the opportunity to pass on some great advice.


Our “BreakThrough DESIGNER” series is a not to be missed! We feature new design talent at least once a week, make sure you check it out and keep coming back for more!

Dominique Leger

Dominique is a graduate of the Fashion Marketing and Merchandising program from Toronto’s International Academy of Design and Technology. She has a decade of experience in the fashion industry working as both a Retail Manager and a Visual Merchandising Manager.

  1. Nicole Terrassin

    We are a small Australian based handbag manufacturer, producing limited edition and one off handbags
    Art collides with fashion
    Are bags very original and because of the use of uniquely Australian materials and leathers are quite niche
    We are really passionate about our designs
    I have no marketing experience and Iam finding this process challenging, to say the least
    Do you have any thoughts for a small niche design group as ours
    Thanks NicolebTerrassin

Comments are closed.