University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion Business"

What is a Visual Merchandiser & Why Should I Care?

Visual merchandising is one of those design disciplines that benefit both retailers AND fashion designers, alike. Whether you have your own brand and are lucky enough to afford your own retail store, OR you’re a brand who plans on selling to retail stores, our 9-part visual merchandising series provides valuable information to help you succeed. Visual merchandising is the very plan to use to communicate to the customer what the brand is all about.

Fashion designers benefit from the study of visual merchandising because it helps them understand the mind of the retailer, especially as the retailer plans their retail open-to-buy for a particular season. This blog post will provide you with a taste of what you’ll learn by viewing our 9-part visual merchandising series taught by Marcie Cooperman (author of Color: How to Use It) and who has been teaching this topic at UoF and at Parsons for years. Sit back and enjoy… get the popcorn popping!

University of Fashion's 9-part Visual Merchandising series poster frames University of Fashion’s 9-part Visual Merchandising video series (Photo images: University of Fashion videos) 

The Psychology of Visual Merchandising

So, it all starts outside the store, with the entrance and store windows. You’re walking by, and suddenly you see a terrific display window that makes you stop and look.  What did the trick?

Maybe it was the perfect dress or coat that you’d been thinking you need to find. Or… maybe it was the colors in the display, or something fun about it.  Or maybe, it was even a sale sign.  If it made you decide to go inside, that’s a successful display window.Example of colorful store window

Examples of colorful & eye-catching store windows (Photo excerpt: University of Fashion video)

And, when we walk into a store, we usually know within about three seconds whether we want to stay there and shop, or whether we just want to turn and leave. We know right away whether we are going to find something we like, or whether it’s going to be a waste of time.  It’s all about the store’s interior design. Does it look organized, so that we might feel confident about moving around easily without asking for help?  Or is it a messy store where we are not clear on how to find things?

Example of a messy store display

Example of a messy & uninviting in-store display (Photo excerpt: University of Fashion video)

In retail visual merchandising, there are two essential parts of the store interior to think about:  merchandising presentation and visual merchandising.  Although they work together, they are actually two different activities. To keep the store fresh, both elements should be updated frequently. That encourages customers to come back to the store often to see what’s new.

Example of an interesting store display Example of an interesting, in-store thematic merchandising presentation and visual display (Photo excerpt: University of Fashion video)

The Planogram

In-store visual merchandising begins with the planogram. The planogram is a detailed set of drawings of a store with two main goals:  to plan the use of the space, and to make decisions on where to place all the merchandise.a planogram image

Example of a store planogram (Photo excerpt: University of Fashion video)

 

Using Color & Texture plus Graphics & Signage in Visual Merchandising

For starters, and to really understand the power of color, view our lessons entitled: Color Relationships and Color Theory-The Basics.

Color Relationships and Color Theory Lessons

Color and texture are critical tools to use in visual merchandising, because when you put wonderful colors and textures together in a display, it sends customers the feeling that this brand is organized and beautiful. That makes the customer feel positive about the brand and makes her want to shop there.

 Visual merchandisers like to use textures that contrast with the merchandise, because they highlight the qualities of the products, and help customers see them.

Image of good use of color and texture

The successful use of color and texture in store windows. (Photo excerpt: University of Fashion video)

Using Line, Shape & Balance in Visual Merchandising

Lines and shapes are the basic building blocks that visual merchandisers use in putting together a merchandising display. We see them on tabletop displays, on walls, and in display windows.  Lines and shapes can be created by clothing on mannequins and on garments hanging on racks or walls, and they can even come from the shelves and the store furniture.

Balance means that every line and shape of the display works to support the whole display, and every part is integral to the entire display. We must be able to look around the entire display, and all the lines will keep leading our eye back to the central focal point.

Examples of Line $ Shape

The use of line and shape in visual merchandising (Photo excerpt: University of Fashion video)

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little snippet of what you’ll learn as you make your way through our visual merchandising series. With over 5 hours-worth of instruction, and hundreds of store display images, you are sure to be inspired and enlightened on the role of the visual merchandiser. Heck, it may even encourage you to want to pursue it as a career!

Do you know what’s the biggest selling color in fashion, and one that you’ll almost never see an entire store window devoted to and why?

 

 

 

The Vital Role of Back-to-School Fashion in the Ever-Evolving Fashion Industry

Gen Z is embracing the Y2K trend. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for the NY Post)

As the sun-kissed days of summer begin to fade, a palpable excitement fills the air. It’s that time of year again – the season of fresh starts, eager minds and boundless possibilities. Back-to-school, a tradition as old as academia itself, has transformed into a runway for the fashion industry, a crucial showcase of innovation, style, and adaptability. In this era of constant change, where trends emerge and dissipate at the speed of a mouse click, back-to-school fashion stands as a testament to the fashion industry’s vitality and enduring relevance.

Back-to-school fashion acts as a playground where designers, retailers, and consumers alike come to play. It’s a symphony of colors, fabrics, and silhouettes, a canvas where creativity knows no bounds. The industry seizes this opportunity to flex its design muscles, concocting garments that mirror the hopes and aspirations of a new academic year. And has traditionally been a major marketing season for the industry. This year is no exception.

Olivia Rodrigo is a punk rock cutie. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

For the 2023/24 back-to-school season, designers have reimagined classic staples – from plaid skirts and varsity jackets to crisp button-down shirts – infusing them with a modern twist that reflects the evolving tastes of  Generation Z (1995 to 2009) and Generation Alpha (2010 to 2024). These reimagined classics become more than just clothing; they become statements of individuality and belonging. This fusion of timelessness and innovation is a reminder that fashion is, at its core, a celebration of the present, while embracing echoes of the past.

Bella Hadid’s preppy with a twist vibe will surely be a back-to-school hit. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The back-to-school rush serves as a microcosm of the industry’s intricate dance with trends. It’s not merely about forecasting the next big thing; it’s about deciphering the intricate tapestry of consumer preferences. As students head back to their classrooms, they’re not just armed with textbooks – they’re equipped with an arsenal of trends, ready to express themselves in the ever-evolving language of style.

Industry leaders meticulously study the back-to-school market to identify patterns that offer insights into the future. The colors that capture attention, the fabrics that evoke emotion, and the styles that foster confidence all act as signposts, guiding the fashion world towards the next chapter of its narrative.

NUTURING BRAND LOYALTY AND IDENTITY

Nike back-to-school promotional looks. (Photo Credit: Nike)

Back-to-school fashion transcends the realm of aesthetics; it’s an exercise in identity formation. As students walk through the school gates clad in their carefully curated ensembles, they’re broadcasting more than just fashion choices – they’re showcasing their identities, their aspirations, and their stories. This emotional connection fosters brand loyalty that can last a lifetime.

For the industry, this loyalty isn’t just a fleeting affair; it’s an investment in a lifelong relationship. The brands that succeed in capturing the hearts of back-to-school shoppers often become woven into their stories, becoming trusted companions on their journey through life.

SUSTAINABILTY AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Levi’s sustainable denim looks. (Photo Credit: Levi’s)

In recent years, the fashion industry has faced increasing scrutiny over its environmental and ethical practices. Back-to-school fashion serves as an opportunity for the industry to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and responsible production. Brands that prioritize eco-friendly materials, ethical labor practices, and conscious consumption are not only shaping their own narratives but also contributing to a broader movement of positive change.

THE ECONOMIC BOOST OF BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING

Back-to-school fashion is an important sales and marketing tool for industry. (Photo Credit: SmartAsset)

The impact of back-to-school shopping on the economy is profound. In 2022, the back-to-school shopping season injected a surge of vitality into various sectors. From retail giants to local boutiques, the cash registers chimed in unison, contributing billions to the GDP. The ripple effect extends beyond traditional school supplies; it’s a time when electronics, clothing, accessories, and even home furnishing experience a surge in demand. The financial heartbeat of countless businesses races as they gear up to cater to the influx of eager shoppers.

According to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, “back-to-school spending is expected to reach an unparalleled $41.5 billion, up from $36.9 billion last year and the previous high of $37.1 billion in 2021. Back-to-college spending is expected to hit $94 billion, about $20 billion more than last year’s record.”

Air Jordan’s and straight leg denim is a back-to-school favorite. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“Back-to-class shopping is one of the most important consumer shopping occasions of the year. Our research for 2023 shows American consumers are eager to jumpstart their back-to-school and college purchases early,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers have been preparing for months to ensure they are well stocked with essential items that families and students need for the school year.”

Since 2003, the National Retail Federation has conducted a thorough survey on back-to-class shopping trends. This year’s research included 7,843 consumers and was fielded June 30-July 6 with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Back-to-school shopping is well underway. According to the National Retail Federation, “as of early July, more than half (55%) of consumers who are buying for back-to-class said they have already started shopping. This is on par with last year, but is up from 44% in 2019, and is in line with the trend of consumers shopping earlier for major spending events. While consumers have started shopping early, as of early July, 85% said they still have at least half of their shopping left to do.”

Planned back to school Source NRF’s Annual 2023 Back to School Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $890.07 on back-to-school items this year, approximately $25 more than last year’s record of $864.35, and a new high. College students and their families are expected to spend an average of $1,366.95 per person, up from $1,199.43 last year, and a new record from the previous record of $1,200.32 in 2021. Since 2019, back-to-college spending has nearly doubled.

Kendeall Jenner’s chill Ninties Vibe. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

For many back-to-school consumers, the leading destinations are online, department stores and discount stores with the more creative and sustainably-minded, hitting up resale clothing shops or are making or upcycling their own clothes.  “Even though consumers plan to spend more on school and college-related items this year, they are still looking to find the best value and deals,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Consumers are stretching their dollars by comparing prices, considering off-brand or store-brand items, and are more likely to shop at discount stores than last year.”

So tell us, what are your back-to-school wardrobe plans? Will you be making or upcycling your own clothes? Thrift shop hunting? Or going traditional: online, department store or mass merchant store?

Announcing UoF’s Newest Lessons: Drafting Cut & Sew Knits – Part 1

Since launching the University of Fashion in 2008 the mission of the company has always been to preserve the art and craft of fashion design. Now, as we enter our 16th year in business, I am proud to say that we are not only holding to that mission, but have expanded into other areas of fashion education, including fashion retailing and merchandising, visual merchandising, fashion law, influencer marketing and the newest fashion industry area;  3D digital design.

We now have over 500 lessons in 13 different disciplines and we continue to add additional content to our library monthly. In fact, we recently filmed an entire cut & sew knit lesson series in response to student suggestions. From learning about knit fabrics and stretch ratios to drafting knit slopers – you asked & we delivered.

Your Knit Journey Starts Here

Poster frames from 2 lessons : Intro to Knits & Knit Fabric Principles and Introduction to Knit Fabrics preview                                      Knit Fabric Principles preview

The first step when designing a cut and sew knit garment is to learn about knit fabric. In our lesson entitled, Introduction to Knit Fabrics, we demonstrate the difference between woven and knit fabrics and how knit fabric is structured. You will learn the meaning of terms like knit and purl, wale and course and how a weft knit differs from a warp knit. We will teach you about different types of yarns and how knits are made so that you will make the best knit fabric choice for each of your designs.

In our lesson, Knit Fabric Principles, you will learn more about designing with knits. We’ll teach you all about the four characteristics of knit fabrics, what it means when a knit fabric has 1-way, 2-way or 4-way stretch, as well as the six categories of stretch ratio percentages, so that you will be able to draft your knit design for your knit fabric choice.

How to Draft Your Knit Slopers

poster frames of lessons Drafting a Women's Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt from Measurements & Drafting a Women's Relaxed Fit Knit T-shirt from Measurements

Drafting a Women’s Relaxed Fit Knit T-shirt from Measurements

Drafting a pattern from body measurements can be challenging, but not at University of Fashion. When you draft your T-shirt slopers from our lessons, Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt and the Relaxed Fit  T-shirt from Measurements, we provide downloadable charts and diagrams to help you locate all of the key measurement-taking points. We also provide downloadable worksheets so that you can easily record your measurements. The women’s fitted stable knit T-shirt sloper will become the basis for all of your knit designs for 1-way and 2 way stretch fabric.

Body measuring points diagram

Drafting a 4-Way Knit Stretch Sloper

Converting a Stable Knit T-shirt & Sleeve Sloper to 4-way Stretch Knit Sloper preview

Once you’ve drafted your Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt sloper, you’re ready to learn how to convert that sloper to a 4-way knit stretch sloper. Our lesson, Converting a Stable Knit T-shirt & Sleeve Sloper to a 4-way Stretch Knit Sloper, results in a sloper that can be used for all of your activewear, shapewear and swimwear garment designs.

Designing & Drafting a Cut & Sew Knit Legging & Unitard

poster frames for Drafting a Legging lesson and Drafting a Unitard lesson

Drafting a Women’s Knit Unitard preview                                   Drafting a Legging preview

By combining the 4-way Stretch Knit Sloper, drafted in our lesson Converting a Stable Knit T-shirt & Sleeve Sloper to 4-way Stretch Knit, with the legging drafted in our lesson Drafting a Legging, you’ll learn how to combine the two slopers to draft a unitard from our lesson, Drafting a Women’s Knit Unitard.

Designing a Cut & Sew Knit Hoodie

poster frame from lesson Drafting a Hooded Top

Drafting a Hooded Knit Top preview 

Using the sleeveless stable knit T-shirt sloper drafted in our lesson, Drafting a Women’s Fitted Stable Knit T-shirt from Measurements you will learn how to draft a hooded knit top made of a cotton/Lycra single knit jersey. We’ll teach you how to interpret a sketch to so that you can ascertain key measurements, such as the neck drop, the neck opening and the height and width of the hood.

Stay tuned for more cut & sew knit lessons: Drafting a Camisole with a Shelf Bra, a Racerback Halter Tank; and a knit neckline series that includes: how to draft an Asymmetric, Built-up, Boatneck, Collared, Cowl, Crewneck, Off  Shoulder, Scoop, Square, Surplice, Turtleneck and a V-Neckline.

 

 

Spotlight on Sustainable Designer: Eudora Tucker

image of Eudora Tucker

Eudora Tucker – New York City sustainable fashion designer (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

This week’s blogpost is dedicated to Custom Collaborative’s latest success story, NYC-based sustainable fashion designer, Eudora Tucker. But first, a bit about Custom Collaborative (CC).

Custom Collaborative is a Harlem-based non-profit 501(c)(3) founded in 2015 by Executive Director Ngozi Okaro. The organization provides free training and ongoing support for women from low-income and immigrant communities through their entrepreneurship and workforce-development programs. Their Training Institute teaches the art, craft and techniques used in sustainable garment-making, as well as ethical business practices in the fashion industry.

 CC’s mission is to help women professionalize their sewing and design skills, overcome barriers to employment, and, ultimately, bring greater equity and inclusivity to the business of fashion.

University of Fashion partnered with Custom Collaborative in 2020, gifting full access to our fashion education content library. Since then, Custom Collaborative has graduated 10 cohorts of ‘fashion-preneurs’ who are making their mark by starting their own sustainable fashion brand.

Last week, I had the chance to interview Eudora and learned about her studies at CC, her design philosophy and her career aspirations. Here goes:

 Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress

Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress (Image credit: Camila Falquez)

Francesca: Tell me about your journey into fashion. Are you NYC born and raised?

Eudora: I was born and raised in Brooklyn. As a Native New Yorker, fashion has always been on my radar. I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer early on and attended The High School of Art and Design to study fashion illustration and then went on to study at FIT. Unfortunately, life happened, forcing me to pivot, but fashion has always been a huge interest. I started seriously getting back into fashion when my idol, Prince, died in 2016. As a lifelong fan, I was devastated when he passed away and I started making Prince themed jean jackets and outfits as a tribute to him. I wore them to different Prince related events that I attended. People seemed to love and admire my designs and complimented me on my creativity. That reignited my passion and pushed me to seriously pursue my dreams of being a fashion designer again. I was hand sewing and using adhesives to create my designs, which meant there were constant repairs and maintenance needed. I knew finding sewing classes would be the next step if I wanted to seriously start making custom designs for others.

Eudora Tucker’s Embellished Purple Vineyard Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about the program at Custom Collaborative? How rigorous was it and what types of things did you learn?

Eudora: The program is a 15-week course that meets Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. It was a serious commitment, and it was truly intense. I had never used a sewing machine before so when our instructor, Delia Alleyne, showed us how to thread the needle on the first day, my head nearly exploded. I didn’t think I would ever be able to thread the machine, let alone sew something together. Fear and self-doubt overcame me, and I was questioning why I ever signed up. Delia encouraged and helped us overcome our fears and by the end of the day, I was able to successfully thread my machine. I knew it was going to be a tough road ahead, but I was up for the challenge. During those 15 weeks there were many tears shed out of frustration, but also with happiness when I was able to get through another tough lesson. In the end I completed the course with the ability to design and sew; a portfolio of work including illustrations for two collections, which included inspiration, mood and fabric boards; an awesome business plan that I wrote, and most importantly, the knowledge and confidence to go forward in pursuit of my dream.

Eudora Tucker’s Rocket Man Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: How were the University of Fashion lessons utilized at CC?

Eudora: We constantly referred to the University of Fashion lessons while studying. We used them to reinforce lessons that Delia taught us and to complete projects on our own. I am a visual learner, so it was a tremendous help and resource for me. The videos that were the biggest help were the lessons on the invisible zipper, pattern making and layout, and draping. These were life saving for me. Due to time constraints, and the amount of projects we covered, it was impossible to learn and complete everything in class. The videos allowed us to review the task, step by step, on our own time to complete the projects correctly.

 

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about your capstone project at CC?

Eudora: My capstone project was a hand painted, full length gown with a train. My design was inspired by the feelings of fear, uncertainty and sense of lawlessness in NYC post Covid-19. With the closing of so many businesses, the graffiti artists had once again transformed our city’s landscape with their artwork, reminiscent of the late 1970s and 80s. Using donated fabric that I treated to create the Ombre effect, the design ascends from darkness to light, reflecting the transitioning of Oppression and Anarchy, rising out of Out Rage and Despair, through Faith and Unity, to ultimately arrive at Love and Peace. My design was chosen as the finale of Cohort 9’s graduation runway show and was also featured in both Vogue Business and Harper’s Bazaar articles. Not only were these very proud moments for me, but they also serve as a testament that my perseverance and hard work are truly paying off.

Eudora Tucker’s Queen Bee Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What made you want to focus on upcycling and sustainable design?

Eudora: Custom Collaborative is an organization that is built on the principles of fashion sustainability. I never heard of fashion sustainability and, to be honest, I was a consumer of fast fashion without even knowing it. I had never heard of the term “fast fashion” until I came to Custom Collaborative. Once I found out what it was and how it affects the planet; coupled with the unfair labor practices that affect the seamstresses that work in the factories, I quickly got on board. I started changing my purchasing habits and decided to focus on upcycling and sustainable design. I truly enjoy taking a “pre-loved” garment and repurposing it into something new and creative. It allows me to create one of a kind, statement pieces that make my clientele feel special when they wear it.

Eudora Tucker’s Dear Mum Jacket (Image credit (Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is the hardest thing about being a sustainable fashion designer?

Eudora: The most challenging aspect of being a sustainable designer is figuring out how to alter an existing garment. When you are locked into a design it is sometimes hard to come up with creative ways to change the garment to fit your new design. You have to use your imagination and become an out-of-the box thinker and really think about the techniques to use in order to execute your new design with the least amount of complication and in a timely manner.

Eudora Tucker’s Ode to Jean-Michele Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is your ultimate goal, or goals, as a designer in the fashion industry?

Eurora: I would like to continue creating one-of-a kind statement pieces and growing my fashion sustainability brand, Princess Arabia’s Atelier. I also plan to partner with environmental agencies in NYC to offer fashion sustainability workshops to teach others what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint through more mindful fashion practices. My ultimate goal is to travel around NYC and neighboring states to educate as many people as possible and bring awareness on how the fast fashion industry continues to proliferate the amount of waste in our landfills and how it is fueling the profound negative effects of climate change. This is my small way of giving back to the planet and carrying out my duty as a good global citizen.

 Follow Eudora on Instagram: @princessarabia9

The Rainbow of it All Vest

Eudora Tucker’s  The Rainbow of it All Vest (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Are you a woman from a low-income community interested in starting a career in fashion? Apply to our Training Institute.

If you are interested in providing paid internships for their students write to us at: CS@UniversityofFashion.com

Are you a small or start-up clothing business? Apply to their Business Incubator. They provide services including manufacturing, technical assistance, and consulting for those who need it.

Want to volunteer? Sign up here. They’re always looking for folks to help as teacher’s assistants, guest speakers, graphic designers, special event coordinators, or fabric inventory sorters.

Want to donate fabrics, machines, or supplies? Complete this form.

To support their work in supporting striving women. Donate today.

 

UOF INSTRUCTOR UPDATE: RISHABH MANOCHA

University of Fashion is proud and fortunate to have such a wonderful team of creative and entrepreneurial instructors willing to share their knowledge and expertise. In our 14th year as the first and largest online fashion education resource, we have maintained the of highest standards when selecting our teachers.

This week’s blog post is a continuation of our instructor spotlight series and will focus on the work of Rishabh Manocha, creator of our 13-part menswear series, whose passion and respect for bespoke craftsmanship has made him one of UOF’s most popular instructors.

RISHABH MANOCHA

Rishabh Manocha

Rishabh Manocha wearing his bespoke suit handcrafted in fabric by Dormeuil (Image credit: @kirktruman)

Rishabh Manocha is a New York City based designer and bespoke tailor who established his eponymous label in 2017. An alum of Parsons School of Design and Central Saint Martins, Rishabh credits his education with Savile Row tailors for the technical soundness that complements his conceptual designs.

 

man buttoning suit jacket

Rishabh Manocha (Image credit: @kirktruman)

Artisanal integrity, sartorial heritage and the form-function dialogue, are integral aspects of Rishabh’s work. Expounding norms of bespoke tailoring as a means to understanding the human psyche is a fundamental tenet of the label. Rishabh travels extensively to research Italian French and UK mills and denim from Japan.

A Rishabh Manocha bespoke suit in pre-fitting (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

 

As a master of bespoke tailoring techniques, Rishabh carries out these techniques personally for his men’s and women’s bespoke commissions across the United States, UK and the Middle East.

suit basted

Bespoke tailoring techniques by Rishabh Manocha (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

men's collarless suit basted

Rishabh Manocha’s basted bespoke suit (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

 

Deeply driven by sustainability, ethical sourcing practices and transparent supply chain, Rishabh recently co-founded Lehzaa, (in Urdu means individual style), an e-commerce women’s ready-to-wear label with Omani business partner Mrs. Mrunal Khimji. Watch for their soft launch in May 2023 at www.lehzaa.com

Co-founders of Lehzaa - Mrs. Mrunal Khimji and Rishabh Manocha

Co-founders of Lehzaa – Mrs. Mrunal Khimji and Rishabh Manocha (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

In addition to his bespoke business, last year Rishabh branched out into leatherwork, creating wallets and briefcases to compliment his clothing.

wallet and briefcase

Rishabh Manocha leatherwear: wallets & briefcases (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

According to Rishabh, the world is changing. He claims that in addition to his clients having an eye for craftmanship, they seek sustainably made clothing that can stand the test of time… and they are willing to pay for it. His design philosophy encompasses:

  1. Using sustainably sourced fabrics from Italy and England
  2. Focusing on silhouettes designed to flatter every body type
  3. Making garments from recycled and upcycled real fur that are made in NYC
  4. Creating a range of bespoke leather goods for the discerning accessory wearer
basted men's jacket

Rishabh Manocha pad-stitched bespoke suit jacket (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

When not with his measuring tape, Rishabh devotes time to learning yoga, languages, and gastronomy. His vision is to see a more conscious and empowered consumer, ‘one garment a time’.

View Rishabh’s UOF menswear lessons:

More about Rishabh

Rishabh Manocha frequently teaches one-on-one online lessons in pattern drafting and tailoring. For more info contact him directly at info@rishabhmanocha.com

Follow him @rmanochabespoke

Visit his website rishabhmanocha.com

HOW INDIA IS BECOMING THE NEXT BIG LUXURY MARKET

Looks from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By now, every dedicated follower-of-fashion has seen the extraordinary Dior Pre-Fall show images from Mumbai that flooded social media with the iconic Gateway of India as backdrop. Having spent seven years working/designing in India, the Dior show was of particular interest to our founder Francesca Sterlacci (FYI-the Taj Mahal hotel is across the street from the Gateway). Francesca’s love of Indian handicrafts, the preservation of those crafts, and female empowerment within the fashion industry are all missions she shares with Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The March 23rd Dior show was not only a celebration of Indian culture and craft, but of its women and its commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Created by women for women, the show reinforced India’s long-standing role in manufacturing European high fashion and the growing power of its luxury consumers. The Dior/India collaboration was a showcase for all the ways the French Maison is interlinked with the artisanship of Mumbai, specifically the Chanakya School of Craft.

Behind the scenes of the Dior and Chanakya School of Craft collaboration. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Originally founded in 1986 by their father Vinod Shah, daughters Karishma Swali and Monica Shah established the Chanakya School of Craft (CSC) in 2016; a foundation and non-profit school dedicated to craft, culture and women’s empowerment and whose mission is to preserve and promote the age-old heritage of hand embroidery.

Today, the school has educated over 700 women providing them with employable skills and autonomy over their lives and their future, making embroideries for international labels such as Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Valentino, Lanvin and Prada. An immersive one-year program on master crafts covering over 300 techniques is taught, while also covering modules on business acumen, basic finance and starting new ventures. The benefit is twofold: ancient techniques and skills are revived while also being rejuvenated by the joy and ambition of those who have finally been empowered. Women of all communities in India can now create their art safely, transforming not just their own lives but the lives of those around them.

The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

Chanakya School of Craft- Mumbai India (Image credit: Chanakya.school)

The show was a testament to Chanakya and Dior’s shared commitment of promoting female empowerment, diversity and inclusivity. In addition to the beautiful embroideries made by women, Dior’s casting of models for the show were a mix of Indian and Western models in a diverse range of body types and skin tones.

Dior’s landmark Pre-Fall 2023 collection was also a celebration of the luxury house’s commitment to sustainability. The brand has been making a concerted effort to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable fashion and the show featured pieces made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton. Dior announced its commitment to using only sustainable cotton by 2025.

 

A look from from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

The Dior collection was a beautiful tribute to India’s vibrant and colorful culture and its women. It was also a perfect example of how fashion can be a powerful tool for cultural exchange. Models walked down the historic square dressed in sari-inspired drapes, kurta shirts, Nehru jackets, sherwanis and lungi skirts in a color palette of rich reds, blues, greens, and golds, featuring intricate embroidery work created by hand, by female artisans from Mumbai.

Looks from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Maria Grazia Chiuri took the final bow in the presence of a bevy of movie stars, influencers, royalty and, of course, the Ambanis (children of Mukesh Ambani, the richest person in India and Asia and the world’s ninth richest person). India has officially secured its place on the luxury fashion map!

 

OTHER LUXURY BRANDS THAT HAVE SHOWN IN INDIA

YSL 1989 show in India. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

While in the past other luxury brands have held shows in India (Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Prada), Dior was the first European luxury brand that held an official calendar show in India with their Pre-Fall 2023 collection.

WHAT DOES THE DIOR SHOW MEAN FOR INDIA’S LUXURY MARKET?

Looks from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 show in Mumbai was quite a success. The turnout of boldface names across industries was high, including India’s leading celebrity Virat Kohli and Bollywood stars such as Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.  The event was significant as it signaled India’s growing luxury status.

The Gateway to Mumbai. (Photo Credit: The National)

As luxury brands tap new markets in a hunt for their next billions, Dior became the first fashion house to unveil their latest collection in India.  The strategic and symbolic value of Dior’s staging their show at Mumbai’s Gateway of India monument is akin to when Fendi staged a fashion show on the Great Wall of China in 2007, a move that foreshadowed the importance of Chinese consumers to the luxury industry over the next decade.

The event was significant as it marked Dior’s entry into India’s luxury market which has been growing rapidly over the past few years. According to a report by Deloitte, India’s luxury market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 10 – 15% over the next five years. This growth is being driven by an increase in disposable income among India’s middle class and a growing appetite for luxury goods among younger consumers.

To learn more about the types of handicrafts used in the Dior collection, view our Tambour beading and hand embroidery lessons taught by Hand & Lock Award winner Silvia Perramon:

DO YOU BELIEVE INDIA WILL BE THE NEXT LUXURY MARKET HOT SPOT?

 

 

UOF Instructor Update: Jessica Krupa

The success of University of Fashion has always been about the talent and expertise of our instructors, their lessons and the high level of our video production. Now, in our 14th year as the first and largest online fashion education resource, we thought it would be of interest to share with our subscribers what a few of our very talented instructors are up to these days. Over the next three weeks, we will be spotlighting three of these very talented instructors and how they have continued to expand their creativity as entrepreneurs and artists. First up…Jessica Krupa.

JESSICA KRUPA

 Jessica Krupa is a graduate and former instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. With over 15 years of experience creating swimwear and intimate apparel collections for Fortune 500 companies, including Li & Fung, Jessica was awarded a bra design patent for innovation during her tenure at Victoria’s Secret. Needless to say, Jessica has tons of cred.

So, it’s no surprise that Jessica is crushing her new business venture, Panty Promise, the first seamless, certified organic cotton panty imported from Italy.     

UoF instructor and designer/founder of Panty Promise (Image courtesy: Panty Promise)

In 2020, Jessica identified the need for better panty options for women without risking their feminine wellness and was driven to solve this; enter Panty Promise. Jessica consulted with top NY Gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck to make her vision come to life and took a year developing the best fabric and design, thus creating the first seamless certified organic cotton panty imported from a high-end mill in Italy.

Jessica’s design eliminates pesky panty lines and uncomfortable seams, like traditional cotton panties, resulting in a smooth and ultra-comfortable look and feel. Her design is Utility Patent Pending in the USA, Canada, EU and UK to keep the innovation and design protected against knockoffs.

Jessica Krupa launched her new brand Panty Promise in 2020 (Image courtesy: Panty Promise)

 

 

 

 

Jessica Krupa and NY Gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck (Image courtesy: Panty Promise)

Panty Promise packaging/laundry bag (Image courtesy: Panty Promise)

Panty Promise strives to be a leader in the biodegradable and sustainable mission to keep the Earth clean. They’re research and testing proves that their panties will biodegrade back into the earth in just 4-6 months, meanwhile synthetics take over 200 years and breakdown into harmful chemicals.

Jessica Krupa ‘s Panty Promise – the first seamless certified organic cotton panty imported from a high-end mill in Italy (Image courtesy: Panty Promise)

Panty Promise is proud to be an affiliate of Cotton Incorporated, where the brand is a Cotton Leads Partner, ensuring ethical global harvesting of cotton trading and manufacturing through the commitment of Cotton Inc.

Jessica likes to say, “We’re saving the planet one panty at a time.”

Panty Promise panties sized XS-4X and in a variety of skin tones and styles: low, high, and mid-rise both in covered and bare bottoms. (Image courtesy: Panty Promise).

Panty Promise exhibits at the Curve Trade Show – Los Angeles 2023 (Image courtesy: Panty Promise)

In her first year of business Jessica exhibited at the Curve Trade Show, which helped catapult the brand to over 65 retailers after winning the New Brand Audience award during Curve’s Pitch off Competition.

Panty Promise is currently sold throughout the USA, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Iceland and the Middle East, in body positive sizes XS-4X and in a variety of skin tones. Panty Promise wholesale price points range from $11-$14, with style offerings from low to high rise in both covered and bare bottoms.

We are proud and fortunate to include Jessica as one of our very talented and accomplished instructors. Catch her extremely popular 9-part swimwear series:
Drawing A Bandeau Swim Top
, Drawing A High Waist & Hipster Swim BottomDrawing A One Piece Plunge Halter With Shelf Bra, Drawing An Underwire Swim Top, Creating A Swimwear Tech Pack In Illustrator, Drawing A String Bikini Bottom, Drawing A String Bikini Top, Drawing A Swimsuit Block Template In Illustrator and Drawing A Push Up Swimsuit.

Big congrats to Jessica for her talent, expertise & entrepreneurship!

 

ONSHORE, RESHORE & OFFSHORE – BRINGING MANUFACTURING BACK HOME

Made in USA Vintage Shield. (Photo Credit: Apparel Business Systems)

How  It Took a Global Pandemic & a War to Make it Happen

For years U.S. politicians have been promising to bring manufacturing back home, in an attempt to help strengthen our economy and bring jobs back to our shore; but they were always empty promises.

In the 1960s, the U.S. was responsible for 50% of the world’s manufacturing output (hard to believe, right?), but today the number is a pitiful 17% . In 1979, there were approximately 20 million manufacturing jobs in the U. S. and today, sadly, there are less than 12 million. So, what went wrong? Why did we lose our manufacturing capabilities across the board?

The manufacturing industry once generated a number of steady, higher paying jobs, creating a healthy middle class, as well as labor unions. It also widened the gap between rich and poor. Many immigrants came to the U.S. because there were so many jobs available. Where once industrialized cities such as New York City, Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Cleveland were among the top ten in population, today, they are only shadows of their former manufacturing selves.

“The inner cities and the rural towns were really basically decimated,” said Sandy Montalbano, a consultant with the Reshoring Initiative, an organization that was formed in 2010 to help bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States. In an interview with 60 Days USA she claimed, “These were really good-paying jobs with benefits and these wage earners were able to provide for their families.” 

The United States dominated the manufacturing market worldwide until the 1970s. So, if the U.S. was such an industrial powerhouse, why did American manufacturing go offshore? What happened?

Sadly, there were a number of factors that contributed to the decline in manufacturing in the United States.

Beginning in the mid-Eighties, and throughout the early 2000s, many manufacturing jobs went “offshore” as companies took advantage of lower wages and fewer regulations.

According to Montalbano, these companies were focusing on short-term gains for shareholders instead of investing in capital equipment, innovation, and workforce training. Another factor was the federal government, it allowed the U.S. dollar to appreciate 300 percent vs. our trading partners over the past 40 years, which caused the U.S. dollar to become overvalued.

These factors were all compounded, Montalbano adds, when the country began to promote a “college for all” education system, putting less emphasis on ‘skills-based’ training, credentialing, and apprenticeship. UoF has been actively trying to help re-educate people with their digital and on-the-table video library of 500+ lessons.

Consumers also had a hand in manufacturing jobs going offshore, by demanding and buying the cheapest products available. This caused a trade deficit, which means the amount by which the cost of a country’s imports exceeds the value of its exports, which continues to impact the manufacturing industry in the U.S.

Obviously, bringing manufacturing back to life in the United States will stimulate the economy and create plenty of job opportunities. In recent years, some promising numbers indicate that certain industries are willing to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., a hopeful and encouraging sign, but it will take more time, money and lots of effort.

According to a 2020 Reshoring Initiative report, approximately 1 million manufacturing jobs returned to the United States from 2010-2020.

Made in the USA image. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

These are all promising signs, but while manufacturing nationwide increased 20 percent from 2009 to 2017, employment in the fashion industry only increased by 5 percent. Montalbano says there are a number of things that need to be done to rev up the nation’s manufacturing sector. “The government needs to level the playing field,” Montalbano said. This can also be achieved by fine tuning the American manufacturing industry with automation and other new technologies, as well as investing in properly training the workforce through processes such as apprenticeships and vocational education. According to Montalbano, “Workers are going to need more than a high school education. There needs to be lifelong learning because technology is moving so quickly.”

The Reshoring Initiative sees an encouraging trend as U.S. companies are gradually turning away from offshoring and returning to U.S. manufacturing. American companies are beginning to weigh the pros and cons of manufacturing offshore: quality control issues, increased transportation costs, fair trade and labor issues in other countries and concern over a company’s carbon footprint and public image when it comes to sustainability.

In an article published in Industry Week, Harry Moser, the founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative, said the push to bring back jobs initially got off to a good start under Trump, due to tax cuts and reductions in regulations, however, his tariff policies and other uncertainties put a damper on that progress.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic actually helped U.S. manufacturing. Moser stated that the pandemic encouraged local production with shorter supply chains and fewer people handling merchandise.

Moser is more optimistic about the administration of President Biden, as Biden has promised 5 million new manufacturing jobs. Moser said the nation will need to reduce manufacturing costs, improve worker skills, and strengthen the U.S. dollar to get there.

One of the easiest manufacturing categories to bring back “onshore” would be fashion. While the fashion industry in the U.S. is still recovering from the losses suffered during the pandemic, brands and retailers could benefit from manufacturing at least some of their clothes in America.

“American-made goods are overwhelmingly popular”, says Christie Grymes Thompson, chair of advertising, marketing, and consumer product safety for Kelley Drye & Warren, an international law firm, in an interview with Sourcing Journal.

“Consumer surveys consistently show over 90 percent of consumers [expressed] a favorable or somewhat favorable view of ‘Made in USA’ products,” Grymes Thompson says in a webinar regarding “Made in USA” claims. “A lot of people think it’s to help the economy, or to otherwise support their local community. Some people also think they would get better quality while recognizing they might pay a premium for that better quality or, at least, perceived better quality.”

Post-Covid, McKinsey & Company says it benefits retailers and manufacturers to move at least some production closer to home.

“Part of being resilient is building an agile network of suppliers and partners,” McKinsey states. “Certain major nondiscretionary retailers are diversifying their supply chains to mitigate dependencies on geographically concentrated suppliers. Retailers dependent on offshore production might explore alternative sources and locations, perhaps developing manufacturing capacity closer to core markets. Rethinking production footprints could help drive down risk while providing new value propositions for product that are sourced or made locally.”

Fashion brands that already manufacture their clothes in the United States, as well as those who are considering doing so, should consider that consumers value American-made apparel, and 90 percent say they would feel good about wearing clothes made with cotton that’s grown in the U.S., according to Monitor™ research. Nearly 86 percent say U.S. cotton is something to be proud of, and 74 percent agree cotton grown in the U.S. is more sustainable than cotton grown in other countries. Furthermore, 62 percent of shoppers say they would pay extra for clothes made of cotton grown in the U.S.

When the pandemic spread in 2020, roughly half of the world’s disposable masks were made in China, but as COVID-19 became a global crisis, face masks became essential and countries started imposing restrictions on exports –unfortunately, this led to shortages of masks and raw materials. The pandemic educated the U.S. that we cannot just rely on China and once again, ‘Made in America’ and reshoring gained in popularity, especially for protective gear which grew about 60 percent.

Reshoring Means Reskilling

For U.S. manufacturing to become competitive, automation and robotics, are the key to offsetting higher U.S. labor costs. Manufacture workers need to learn how to use advanced technology, 3D design software, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, 3D printing and supply chain management – these are all instrumental in the continual efforts to reshore manufacturing.

Only automated manufacturing technologies will help US apparel sector successfully work out ‘local to local’ production more efficiently. (Photo Credit: Apparel Resource)

Substantiating on the same, Harry Moser says manufacturing costs in the U.S. are often 20 per cent higher than those in Europe and 40 per cent higher than in China and other low labor cost countries. “If we don’t invest in automation, we don’t increase our competitiveness,” he added. The fashion industry will have to think and talk technology, as only automated manufacturing technologies will help them successfully work out ‘local to local’ production more efficiently and successfully. “Some people are afraid of automation because they’ll lose their jobs,” Harry adds, but workers need to get over that frame of mind, “The U.S. will lose more jobs to Chinese automation if we don’t automate than we will to U.S. automation if we do. Since we are competing, you have to automate the best you can just to stay even.” Just like when Barthélemy Thimmonier’s sewing machine, created in the early 1800s, was destroyed by journeymen tailors who felt that the machine threatened their livelihood, we can’t allow luddites to keep us from moving our domestic manufacturing industry into the future.

Automated manufacturing technologies will surely and effectively help the U.S. apparel sector successfully work out ‘local to local’ production; while technology is integral to  reshoring jobs back to the U.S.. And will provide higher paying jobs.

Reshoring Pioneers  

As the reshoring movement gains in popularity, with many more to follow, one such fashion company that is leading the pack is American Knits in Swainsboro, GA. Companies like America Knits are testing the waters to see if the U.S. can regain some of the manufacturing output it relinquished in recent decades to China and other countries.

At America Knits in Swainsboro, Ga., workers earn up to twice as much per hour as they would in a service job. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

American Knits was founded in 2019 by Steven Hawkins, with 65 workers producing premium T-shirts from locally grown cotton. He expects the company’s work force to increase to 100 in the coming months. If the area is to have an industrial renaissance, he is a visionary. “I’m the only one, the only crazy one,” Mr. Hawkins said to the New York Times. But as he sees it, bringing manufacturing back from overseas has found its moment. “America Knits shows it can be done and has been done,” he said.

Some corporate giant brands are eager to test that premise, if not for finished goods, then certainly for essential parts.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, efforts to relocate manufacturing have accelerated, said Claudio Knizek, global leader for advanced manufacturing and mobility at EY-Parthenon, a strategy consulting firm, in an interview with the New York Times. “It may have reached a tipping point,” he added.

Decades of dependence on overseas factories, especially in China, has been upended by delays and increasing freight rates — when shipping capacity can even be found.

Onshoring has never been more essential, not only because of the delays of much needed essentials due to the pandemic, but also for sustainability. Many companies have committed to sustainability, and therefore by manufacturing in the United States, companies will attempt to reduce pollution and fossil fuel consumption in transportation across oceans, which is a major selling point.

Julie Land is the owner of the Canadian company Winnipeg Stitch Factory, and its clothing brand, Pine Falls. The 12-year-old business is opening a plant in Port Gibson, Miss., in 2022. While fabrics will be cut in Winnipeg, Canada, they will then be shipped to Port Gibson to be sewn into garments like jackets and sweaters. The new factory will be heavily automated, which will keep her costs manageable, and the company will be able to compete with overseas workshops.

“Reshoring is not going to happen overnight, but it is happening, and it’s exciting,” Julie Land said to the New York Times. “If you place an order offshore, there is so much uncertainty with a longer lead time. All of that adds up.”

Another fashion company that is building facilities in the U.S. is Resonance, which is a collection of companies focused on transforming the fashion industry. The company opened its first sew production facility in New York City. The 300 square-foot facility is located in Pier 59 in Chelsea Piers, adjacent to the company’s headquarters. This is the first creation-to-customer-closet platform for sustainable fashion.

Resonance uses digital printing on organic and environmentally certified fabrics as part of a fully automated process to design, sell, and make garments in real time, on demand, sustainably anywhere in the world.

A Photo from Resonance’s New York City Factory. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock.)

“The new facility is comprised of 12 sewing stations with the ability to make hundreds of garments per week supported by Resonance’s proprietary technology. The team plans to hire additional team members to run the NYC facility as well as several others that are planned in the coming months,” according to the company’s statement.

Lawrence Lenihan, Resonance chairman and co-founder, said in a press release, “Resonance is deeply committed to bringing components of garment manufacturing back to NYC, a city whose thriving textile manufacturing industry was driven overseas in search of lower production costs,” the statement further said. “Resonance believes that this network can birth a new fashion value chain and new entrepreneurs can build job-creating manufacturing businesses in their communities powered by orders for clothing from brands on the Resonance platform. These next generation manufacturers will compete on cost and by being closer to the end customer, adding value to the last-mile process, and producing garments that create social and environmental value transparently.”

Resonance’s goal is to open hundreds of these sew production facilities around the country and internationally while also connecting existing ones, helping to reimagine the textile manufacturing experience for designers, consumers, and the planet.

Another onshore pioneer is New York Embroidery Studio, which is opening a new space in NYC’s Brooklyn Army Terminal. The new three-year lease is one of the largest in the Sunset Park location. The company has been manufacturing in the garment center for over 30 years and is known for collaborating with fashion luxury houses such as Caroline Herrera, Ralph Lauren, and Oscar de la Renta.

This luxury fashion company, known for their exquisite embellishments, pivoted at the height of the pandemic to create personal protective equipment like masks and hospital gowns. New York Embroidery Studio’s founder, Michelle Feinberg and her team made over 590,000 hospital gowns in just nine weeks and also kept hundreds of New Yorkers employed even as the city’s economy sharply declined.

New York Embroidery Studio Founder Michelle Feinberg at the new Brooklyn Army Terminal space. (Photo Credit: NYES)

New York Embroidery Studio’s new 80,000-square-foot lease will bring more than 500 on-site jobs, generating an estimated $73 million in economic output for New York City. The studio will use automated machines and advanced manufacturing techniques to produce PPE full-time as part of an ongoing effort to restore the country’s national stockpile.

“The local production of PPE is essential to our health care workers and our city, so we are always prepared,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “We must be forward-thinking as we address our city’s future pandemic preparedness.”

Russia’s War & Its Impact on Fashion Manufacturing

Since Putin’s war against Ukraine began in February 2022, the global fashion industry has come down heavy on Russia with brands refusing to ship merchandise and closing their retail stores there. Sanctions imposed on Russia are resulting in major supply chain issues for the global textile and apparel industry as the rising cost of essential materials such as crude oil and the rising cost of food is resulting in higher labor costs. According to Fibre2Fashion.com, “Several of the Asian economies are dependent heavily on coal and oil from Russia, and food supplies from Ukraine. UNCTAD [The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] update on the Russian-Ukraine crisis shows that Turkey, China, Egypt, and India are the countries that are most dependent on food supplies from Russia and Ukraine.  These are incidentally also major textile and apparel suppliers globally. Inflation in Turkey has skyrocketed to almost 54.44 per cent in February 2022, which is expected to significantly impact sourcing from the country. Consumer prices inflation in Bangladesh has also risen rapidly to 6.17 per cent, predominantly due to increase in food prices.”

The U.S. fashion industry (and Europe’s as well) is now having to take a long, hard look at what the repercussions are of their heavy reliance on foreign textiles and on shoe and garment manufacturing.  Our once booming textile, shoe and garment manufacturing industries were reduced to rubble in the 80s and to bring them back will take time and lots of money. Watch this space as American ingenuity explores how to make it happen. It’ll take a village though: government money, fashion pioneers and entrepreneurs, patriotic consumers willing to pay more for Made in America products and an army of influencers to promote it.

Between the War in Ukraine and the global pandemic, these two events alone have educated Americans that reshoring is sure to become the biggest growth driver for its manufacturing industry – in particular the apparel and textile sector. As more and more companies explore onshore opportunities and align their marketing and selling strategies into the digital space, they just may be surprised at how profitable bringing manufacturing back home can be. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

 

So, tell us, how motivated are you on manufacturing your collection in the United States?

 

 

NEW WAYS YOUNG DESIGNERS ARE REACHING CONSUMERS

- - Fashion Business

A YouTube video on Neighborhood Goods.

It didn’t take a global pandemic to know that the retail sector of the fashion industry was in trouble. Over the past few years we have all watched traditional retail stores fail, as more and more consumers started to spend more of  their time and money shopping online. No one seemed exempt from bankruptcy, both specialty and department stores alike. Barneys New York, Jeffrey’s, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney and Lord & Taylor have all declared bankruptcy. These closures not only affected retailers and their staff, but also hurt the pockets of many designers, especially smaller, independent designers, who were able to get their start from these stores. Even mega-retail chains have been struggling with declining in-store shoppers, astronomical rents, and debt. Unfortunately this trickle down effect results in cancelled orders and invoices that are left unpaid, a burden the brand must take on.

Even before COVID-19 hit and the economy was thriving, the wholesale system was hurting many designers and running their business to the ground. Department stores constantly pressured designers to create something new and exclusive for them, but in the end, it was never really worth it for the designer and they only obliged to keep the department stores happy and hopefully keep their orders coming.

Many designers started to realize that the traditional wholesale model wasn’t working for them and began to ask the question…what’s next? 

Today, young designers are looking for creative outlets to present their pieces to potential consumers. For many, the direct-to-consumer model has been a successful one. But for others, they view the benefits of a wholesale partnership as a vital step towards creating brand awareness and building a customer base, whether their goods are in a brick-and-mortar store or on a retailer’s site.

NEW OPTIONS

There are a few new and exciting options surfacing for brands that value the exposure that multi-branded retailers offer, but where designers can still take control of their inventory. Many retailers are operating on a ‘retail-as-service’ business model, which means that rather than purchasing inventory from brands, they may lease out space and/or provide logistical and marketing support for a fee, in addition to potentially taking a commission on sales.

Here are a few platforms and marketplaces that young designers are excited about:

NEIGHBORHOOD GOODS

Inside Neighborhood Goods. (Photo Credit: D Magazine)

Neighborhood Goods is an innovative alternative to the traditional department store model. The store provides brands with a low risk and less expensive way to test the waters of the physical retail model. Neighborhood Goods charges brands a small fee to display their designs in one or several of its physical locations (Austin and Plano, Texas and New York City), as well as on their e-commerce site where the retailer also takes a percentage of sales.

Neighborhood Goods features an experiential, appealingly-designed format with excellent customer service and even frequent food pop-ups. In April, in response to COVID-19, Neighborhood Goods launched The Commons, a section dedicated to featuring small brands who were negatively impacted by the pandemic, at no cost to their struggling businesses.

Neighborhood Goods’ smart business model, and $11 million in venture capital, put it in a stronger position than most to weather the current retail storm. According to co-founder Matt Alexander in an interview with Fashionista.com, “In an industry struggling to adapt to the future, this whole crisis is going to accelerate the prevailing winds in the retail industry, and we end up being in a relatively good spot on the other side.

THE YES

An image from The Yes shopping app. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

The Yes is the brainchild of fashion and tech veterans Taylor Tomasi-Hill (Street-style star and Fashion Market Editor at Teen Vogue and W Magazine to name a few), Julie Bornstein (StitchFix, Nordstrom, Sephora) and Amit Aggarwal (Google, Bing, Groupon). The mobile shopping platform carries well established brands, as well as young designers ranging from Prada to Khaite.

Every brand has its own storefront in the app and The Yes uses dropship, meaning it doesn’t hold its own inventory. The site collects a share of revenue from each sale made through the app. The Yes also uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to personalize every user’s feed in real time. For example, when you click “yes” on a style, you will see a variety of similar looks.

SHOP

Shopify launches Shop, a new mobile app. (Photo Credit: TechCrunch)

Shop is another mobile shopping site and describes itself as your personal “shopping assistant.” The site was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic by Shopify, it’s a go-to tool for independent brands and retailers setting up e-commerce.

This savvy site allows shoppers to shop numerous retailers all in one place. One unique feature is that the app allows shoppers to locate and shop businesses that are local to them, but only if they use Shopify. The site also offers speedy checkout and helps the consumer track and receive updates on all orders.

SHOWFIELDS

Showfields NYC. (Photo Credit: Time Out)

With a brick-and-mortar store in New York City, and a soon to open Miami location, Showfields’ goal is to curate innovative, unconventional, and relevant digitally native brands in one giant, highly Instagramable space. The store frequently hosts new and exciting events and initiatives to engage consumers and create a buzz. And so far they have done it successfully even through quarantine.

The top floor of Showfields is used as a community space with food and events that have ranged from theatrical performances and art installations to fundraisers and digital discussions. American Express has also sponsored a special curation of Black-owned brands; the credit card company is only charging brands membership fees, but the brands keep 100% of their sales.

RE:STORE

A look inside Re:store. (Photo Credit: Re:store)

Selena Cruz, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, recently opened the doors to Re:store in San Francisco, CA. The store positioned itself somewhat of a WeWork space for unique, saught-after, online-only or difficult-to-find brands. Re:store carries many millennial-targeting labels that are popular on Instagram, all together on one space. Of course the store is very cool and Instagrammable, which of course draws in the millennials.

Brands pay only $350 a month as well as a 20% commission to hold a space on the experimental retail floor. RE:store also offers a community workspace offering young brands to work with and interact with their customers, all in the heart of Downtown San Francisco for a fraction of the price. The opportunity for these brands to connect with their customers is priceless, particularly those for whom this is their brick-and-mortar debut.

DEPOP

Hand-painted boots by Zigzaggoods on Depop. (Photo Credit: Craft Industry Alliance)

Depop is a new digital marketplace for handmade items that Gen Z designers are excited about. The fun and eccentric online mall has a young demographic; of its 21-million users 90% are age 26 or younger—members of Gen Z, the first all-digital generation. The site looks a lot like Instagram, so it’s very familiar and easy to use. It’s a sellers’ lifestyle shown in images. In a recent New York Magazine poll teenagers voted Depop the top marketplace for buying resale goods (over Etsy and eBay). If you’re interested in reaching a young demographic, it’s definitely worth a look.

Depop’s CEO, Maria Raga believes in supporting the growth of young entrepreneurs. “I view my role as more than just running a company. It’s about helping young sellers fulfill their passions, stretch their business skills, and become independent business owners who create fashion trends,” she said in an interview with Fashionista.com. Another plus, Depop only takes a flat 10% fee on each transaction, including shipping.

In the coming months and years, post Covid, retailers will be looking to up-and coming designers for ideas on how to give consumers what they want. Stay tuned…

So tell us, what are you doing to get your brand out there?

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW DIGITAL MARKETING SERIES


MEET YOUR NEW INSTRUCTOR: ROZA SALAHSHOUR

The University of Fashion is honored to add Roza Salahshour to our distinguished list of talented instructors.  Roza is a Digital Marketing Consultant & founder of Branderella, a 360° branding agency based in Paris.  She will be sharing her knowledge and expertise in our new Digital Fashion Marketing series. We are pleased to announce the launch of her first lesson, Introduction to Influencer Marketing.

Whether you are an established fashion brand or an aspiring fashionprenuer, knowing the ins and outs of digital marketing puts the power in your hands when launching your brand.

Roza began her career as a graphic and multimedia designer for tech startups before pursuing her interest in digital academically through a bachelor’s degree in Web Media technology (BSC), a  joint degree program between Staffordshire University UK, and Asia Pacific University, Kuala Lumpur.

During her studies abroad in Kuala Lumpur,  Roza had the opportunity to model part-time and participate in the marketing campaign for various fashion brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, JOGSHarper’s Bazaar & Bimba & Lola. In 2012 Roza took on the role of a fashion events coordinator launching & curating fashion shows for Harley Davidson & product shows for Laura Star through their Asian divisions.  In 2013 Roza co-founded MAVN Models designing and launching its digital presence before moving to Paris to pursue her MBA in fashion, luxury & Cosmetics at IFA PARIS. 

After short assignments for COTY Beauty & Iman cosmetics, Roza was sought out by various business schools to share her diverse international experience at the intersection of fashion, technology & business.

To date, Roza has served a variety of different universities including IPI (Group IGS), IPSSI, a digital marketing school, INGETIS, a BTS web & engineering school, Toulouse Business School, GBSB Business school, Madrid  and CIEE Paris, a study abroad Institution for American students wishing to explore Paris.

During her time at INGETIS, Roza created the Introduction to Technoprenuership Program for undergraduate students in Web Development and Networking curating a range of mini-modules including Startup Universe, Cash Cow & Founder’s Story.

At IPI, Roza designed and founded the Introduction to Digital Marketing Program along with practical coursework and online examination.  For Toulouse business school, she designed the Marketing Exchange Evolution program, a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary module at the cross-section of luxury, digital, and entrepreneurship.

At GBSB Business School she teaches Social Media & Public Relations for master’s students in luxury & business.

As a creative individual passionate about digital technology, Roza enjoys creating innovative modules that help creative enterprises tap into the exciting opportunities in the digital ecosphere!

Email:  Info@rozasalahshour.com

LinkedIn:  http://linkedin.com/in/rozasalahshour

Website:  https://www.branderella.com/

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