The Importance of Truly Understanding Your Industry

Knowing your industry

As you may or may not know, when it comes to fashion my true passion lies in textiles.  The fabrics that make up apparel design is what gives me goosebumps and makes my heart go aflutter.

I’m also a big proponent of completely immersing yourself in your industry.  Staying up to date and knowledgeable is totally necessary for creating and sustaining a successful business.

Now what does one of these concepts have to do with the other, you ask?  Well, as fashion designers, there’s nothing more relevant to your production process than the raw materials that make up your garments, right?  One major issue that has surfaced in the textile industry is the lack of available cotton.   I’m bringing this up because, in the sourcing world (where I spend a decent amount of time) , you’d be surprised by the amount of independent (and not so independent) designers that come to me asking for this scarce fiber.  I have to say, the looks on their faces when I explain to them the current state of cotton production and exporting, is baffling.  So many designers don’t have the first clue what’s going on. But, what they don’t understand is that they need to.

Do you currently use cotton in your collections?  Have you used it for sampling?  What are you planning to do when it comes time for production and China & India are both holding tight to their resources?

Haven’t heard about this crisis?  Read this Inc. Magazine article.

What about the instability of silk prices?  Are you aware that the price of silk has been on a steady rise for months now? You can sample a silk fabric at $14.95/yd and when it comes time for production, the price has risen to $18.00/yd.  I know, it’s crazy.  I mean, how can you cost your garment when you have no idea what’s going to happen.  Well, in actuality, you do have an idea: it’s gonna rise!  So take that into consideration when you decide on your price tag.

This is just one example of staying current within your industry.  Sometimes I worry that too many independent designers out there forget about the need to educate themselves in all aspects of their business.  Yes, over time you can outsource some of your work but you will never be excused from understanding and speaking knowledgeably about your industry.

All I can say is READ, READ, READ!

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!

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