With New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) fast approaching (put it in your diaries, people, 2 to 8 September), the organisers gave a group of new designers the chance to hear from people who’ve made it big in the industry. Enter Dan Gosling, director of the Stolen Girlfriends’ Club, one of the most successful fashion brands in the country.
For Gosling, the key to success is creating a strong brand, with a good story behind it. “You can be the best maker in the world but you have to have a good brand and a story behind it. And you really have to think about what your brand is and your position in the market,” he told designers at the New Generation Boot Camp.
He also shared some of his thoughts on the fashion business and gave insights on what steps to take once the fashion show is finished and the garments need to be sold.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 pieces of advice by the Stolen Girlfriends Club director.
1 - Break your goal down into components
Designing clothes costs a lot of time and money so sell.
2 - Don’t delegate too much
As you start up, costs are high so do what you can yourself. Run super fine until you start getting sales. IT gives you hands-on experience too and that’s really valuable.
3 - Decide where you want to sell
The internet has made things easier but every market is different so make sure you pinpoint your strategy for every single market. Even Australia, our closest ally, is quite a different market.
4 - Following an agency model might work for you
Using an agency to sell your garments, giving them a commission on sales, might be a good way of building your database. Agencies usually take 8 to 20% commission but you get good reputation and get to sit next to brands close to yours.
5 - Keep your pricing structure standardised
Your prices should not differ much across different markets. This is even more important these days with the internet. You also need to pay attention to shipping rates and taxes when dealing with overseas purchases. It’s exciting to get orders from other countries but make sure the shipping and taxes don’t mean you don’t make any money.
6 - An overseas distributor might not be a bad idea
Making it big outside of New Zealand takes time so enlisting the help of a distributor in those other markets might take some of the headaches away.
7 - Focus on your key markets
New Zealand is a great market. We have got one of the best test markets in the world right here. Get it right here first before thinking of going elsewhere.
8 - Create a strong online presence
Make sure you have a great website to represent your brand and sell your garments. You earn full retail on website sales so it is a great way to pay for other stuff. Get your website out to the world. Social media is super important to your brand. You can even target it to your market.
9 - Have a vision
Who are the dream people you want wearing your clothes? Put them up on your wall.
10 - Be persistent when approaching retailers
Approaching retailers is quite a tough exercise because they get contacted all the time. Little things work, like cold calling, sending lookbooks, little gifts, or going into the store. Be persistent. People knock on my door six times. At the sixth time, they get in.
New Zealand Fashion Week kicks off on 2 September at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland. BMW is one of the sponsors of the event and is supporting the New Generation programme. 2013’s New Generation designers are Crooked Seven, Nara Paz and Beverley Riverina, who will show their collections on the NZFW catwalk. Each designer was given the chance to illustrate a BMW. At the Boot Camp last week, they received business advice from Dan Gosling, as well as BMW’s managing director Nina Englert and BMW brand ambassador and renowned chef Josh Emett.
One of these three new generation designers will be awarded the BMW People’s Choice award. A piece from each of their collections and their vehicle wrap design will be on display during NZFW and visitors to the Viaduct Events Centre will be able to vote for their favourite. The winner will be announced on 5 September and the designer will receive $5000 from BMW to go towards further developing their business.