What if breaking into fashion could be more possible than you think? Rize digs into the challenges and opportunities for young designers starting their own label.
Fashion can appear as a mirage of dreams for the budding young designer. A global industry that fuses art, craft and commerce into the same sentence, it can be notoriously competitive and difficult to break into. The challenges for anyone wishing to work in fashion are plentiful, and for emerging designers launching labels, carving your path can be even more elusive.
However, we believe that fashion is also rich with opportunities. As a platform that supports emerging designers worldwide, our question today is: what do the horizons hold for young designers starting a label? What challenges do they face and which opportunities can they tap into?
Five Challenges for Emerging Designers
Let’s not pretend that starting a fashion label is without difficulty. You might spend years honing your craft before you start a business, so what sort of challenges are ahead?
1. Increased competition
The boom in fashion has generated more interest and access to the industry. It’s brought new markets, new brands and a lot more hopefuls looking to break in. Styles change at a dizzying pace too, and as an emerging designer, it can be challenging to work out how you stand out and stay afloat amongst the competition.
2. Available marketing time
Marketing represents a huge investment in time, money and work, yet is absolutely critical to the success of your business. The digital space can help you engage with customers quickly and easily, however it takes time to develop content, manage interactions and make connections with press and influencers. When you don’t have time or resources available, how do you create impactful marketing campaigns and build a customer base?
3. Retailer hoops
For many emerging designers, selling in a prestigious store might make or break your business. However, buyers may opt to see your consistency before they take a chance on your brand. It’s a system that presents two problems for emerging designers: lower returns, since the retailer takes a larger share of profits, and dependency on buyers, since no sales will put you swiftly out of business.
4. Financial risks
No matter how you choose to run your label, money is necessary to keep it going. Starting a label not only takes time and effort, but equipment, materials, production and marketing are all costly. Opening up shop – whether online or IRL – will take investment too, with benefits and limitations to both options. It can be risky, especially as poor cash flow is often one of the biggest problems for new businesses.
5. Addressing sustainability
Since the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, conversations in fashion have been shifting. With the ethical problems and ecological impacts of the fashion industry laid bare, many consumers are beginning to place more importance on brands with values and work to address some of these issues. Whilst we’ve been talking about starting a label so far, this challenge is linked to the longevity of it. How do you build the industry of tomorrow when starting today?
Five Opportunities for Emerging Designers
Now that we’ve highlighted some challenges, it’s time we share some opportunities for young designers. So what are the perks of starting a fashion label?
1. Adaptable to alternatives
Yes competition is fierce, but look at many global cities and you’ll start to notice that our wardrobes are becoming increasingly homogenised, with the same big brands on every high street. However, we think this backdrop presents an opportunity for emerging designers – a chance to engage your creativity and showcase something unique, local or alternative to mass market.
2. Reach a global audience
The challenge of marketing can be a hurdle for many designers, yet social media is valuable for engaging with potential customers. With Rize, you’re able to reach an established global audience, keen to champion local fashion worldwide. We work with influencers and offer free promotion through our Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest accounts for Rize designers – something that can help you build a customer base when starting out.
3. Diverse locations
At the moment, living and working outside a major fashion capital can make it harder to break in. However, given the costs and space limitations of major cities, there are sometimes advantages to being based elsewhere and more young designers are choosing this path. Being part of a global marketplace like Rize, allows you to reap the benefits of lower overheads when you start out, but still remain visible to customers worldwide.
4. Ownership of your sales
Selling directly to customers allows designers an opportunity to minimise costs and increase profits for your business. For many, selling online can be more affordable when starting out. However the difficulty can be getting people to your website in the first place. With Rize, you benefit from listing on a thriving marketplace and know exactly how much commission you’ll pay on sales. Ultimately, letting you have more control over your business.
5. Embracing your values
Finally, the advantage of starting a label is that you have an opportunity to build a label based on what you believe. Whether that’s working towards reducing the ecological impact of fashion, preserving craft traditions, creating jobs in your local community or something else entirely, as an emerging designer you have an opportunity to integrate values into your business from the very start.
Ultimately, there’s no rulebook for starting a business. Fashion can be a challenging industry, but it’s also one filled with opportunities with a shift of perspective. What works for some, might have no relevance for others, and it can be liberating to do things your own way. Hopefully, with some thinking and grafting, you will craft a path towards the fashion business you want to run.
By Leah Das.