What it takes to get a product to market — and make a living

 

The steps to making something you love that also sells are simple and finite.  If it makes you a living.  Wow!  You’ve done it.   Here are the six simple steps to get  you there:

1. Idea
Research + Inspiration = product that’s in demand.
Develop strategies to get the right merchandise at the right price at the right time in the right amount to the right locations to meet the wants and needs of the target customer

Why Research?

No style or group of styles can be considered fashion unless they are accepted and bought by the public.

Research who will buy it:
• Who is your public (target market)?
• What do they need?
• How much are they willing to spend?
• Where do they buy?

Research what they will buy:
• What’s on the streets?
• What do trend reports say?
• Shop! What are others selling?
• How are they merchandising it?
• How are they pricing it?
• What are they missing?
• Where do you fit in?
Decide the best time of the year to start selling your items.

Research your Brand & create a marketing plan
•  Who are you?
•  What do you plan to offer
•  How are you positioned
•  How do you differ from others
ª  What is your name/logo/look

Success depends on developing and maintaining a line based on the market niche

2.  Design
Decide on your:
• Colors and values
• Fabrics and textures
• Shapes (line, balance, proportion) = sizes

• Sketch 24. Edit.
• Draw 12. Edit.
• Illustrate 6 cohesive garments that represent your brand.
This is your line — for a season.

3.  Make Patterns
• Set pattern standards
• Write prototype garment spec sheets
• Make first patterns
• Source your fabrics & trims
• Sew prototypes
• Fit then alter your patterns.
• Sew your samples
Calculate preliminary costs and pricing strategy

4.  Take Sales and Orders
• Prepare your sales materials — whether you are selling wholesale or direct to consumer online through your website.
• Take orders.  TIP:  Give discounts for pre-packs.
• Grade your pattern sizes based on those orders.
• Plan fabric usage.  Set up a marker to prevent waste.
• Order your wholesale fabrics and trims.

5.  Cut Make Trim
• Produce only those garments that get enough orders.
• Use a professional production house.
• Do quality checks.

6.  Fulfillment
• Deliver what the buyer ordered — when and how they want it delivered.
• Get paid!
• Follow up with your buyers. Take notes.  Adjust.  This is your core market research for your next season.

Get started on the next season, if you haven’t already.

You too could be the next Chanel — only better because it is you!

Want to know more?  Sign up for any of PFI’s business classes where you feel a need to know more.  Can’t decide?  Sign up for a business consultation.  Your success is our success!

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Vanishing Higher-Ed Hasn’t Put a Damper on These Portland Fashion Schools

 

In 2018, the Art Institute of Portland—the only college in the city offering bachelor’s degrees in apparel design and fashion marketing—closed its doors, shifting the balance of local design education options. The school, well known for its fashion alums (including no fewer than three Project Runway contestants) had been through a tumultuous few years, with the nationwide chain of colleges forced to grant $103 million in loan forgiveness on top of a $95 million multistate lawsuit settlement to students for consumer fraud. Since then, Portland has also seen the closures of the 112-year-old Oregon College of Art & Craft, which offered a smattering of experimental design courses, as well as other non-fashion Portland-area mainstays Marylhurst and Concordia.

But the great higher-ed vanishing hasn’t put a damper on advances in the local fashion scene. Nike, Adidas, and Columbia all continue to operate design studios here that employ hordes of fashion folk. There’s three-year-old Sneaker Week, an annual footwear event that brings in industry kin from all over the country. And, prepandemic, of course, local fashion shows were continuously popping up with new names and design collectives, like “The Ones” on E Burnside, which lets newbie designers share space alongside veterans of the fashion world.

A look from PFI student Chuck Ryan’s final collection.

The question, in the absence of higher ed, is where are all of these people learning their craft?

Across the river in the Hollywood District, Portland Fashion Institute caters to that seeking-a-toehold-in-the-industry demographic, but also embraces Portland’s indie days of yore with a program that runs students through not only the ins and outs of things like sewing knits and Optitex computer patternmaking, but also business classes on how to run your growing design empire. PFI founder Sharon Blair was a full-time instructor at the Art Institute of Portland before leaving to found her own school in 2010. That move, she says, was about taking her years of education experience plus the perspective from running her own small clothing line, SKB, to students for a fraction of the cost. Despite having several of the same instructors helming classes, the accredited school is vastly more affordable than the Art Institute, where the final tuition hit $485 per credit hour vs. Blair’s zero-debt vision. At PFI things clock in around $30 an hour for a sewing class and just $55 per patternmaking class, even with access to the expensive computer programs.

The commonality among all the schools? Each one gets students trained for a future career with classes that are faster and cheaper than traditional colleges, all with access to industry professionals that value time on the floor over textbooks.