How to Handle Criticism of Your Fashion Line

Criticism pic (2)

When you’re the fashion designer and the salesperson, you’re bound to hear feedback on your line that’s negative. And it can sting! I’ll never forget when I was looking for a New York showroom for my line and the one sales rep who had the courage – the nerve! – to tell me the truth.

It went like this…

Sales Rep: “Jane, the best thing about your line is you.  You’re easy to work with and very professional.”

Sounds great, this is promising…

She continued, “I talked to my main sales people about your clothes. “

Great, she’s really working it for me…

She finished with: “And they told me they can’t sell it. They said it’s “nice” but it lacks a certain coolness factor that they need.”

Ummmmm, what?

I was crushed.  And a tad humiliated. And the worst part was that I knew, deep in my gut, that she was right.

While I didn’t like hearing her truthful criticism, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I re-doubled my efforts and my next line was much, much better. In the end, that rep did me a huge favor!

Here are some tips to help you handle criticism:

Don’t take it personally
I know this is hard because you designed the pieces yourself. However, you must find a way to separate yourself from the product and focus on business. If you’re too emotionally attached everything is harder, believe me. I’ve been there.

Make a distinction between Feedback and Insult
It’s possible that people are not actually criticizing you, they just disagree with you. In many ways, we are conditioned to think we’re right, so we treat feedback as criticism every single time. Try to keep an open mind.

Know that criticism comes with the territory
When you take a risk – like starting a fashion business, showing your line, putting yourself out there – it’s going to happen. Period. Criticism won’t kill you, even when it’s harsh or unwarranted. Success = Criticism and the better your business does the more you’ll hear! Let it roll off and keep your focus on your business and you’ll do just fine.

Now it’s your turn. How do you handle criticism? What’s worked for you? Has any criticism actually helped you in the end?

Jane Hamill

Jane Hamill is the founder of Fashion Brain Academy and the creator of several online trainings for apparel and accessories designers, including “20 Up” Marketing Course for Designers and “How to Start a Fashion Business: New Designer Program”.

1 Comment
  1. Elizabeth Evans

    Love your article- its an empowering way to look at criticism! Wasn’t sure, but wanted to make sure if the title to your last paragraph is supposed to read “Know that [is] criticism comes with the territory”. Not sure if the ‘is’ was supposed to be there. Just thought I would reach out in case! Thanks!


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