Developing a Fashion Collection Plan

As you think about the overall size and breadth of your fashion collection, you should identify the number of items required to fulfil your vision, but cross-reference that with a reasonable assessment of what can fit in a store, on a website or into a retail account’s buy.

There are three fundamental elements to planning a balanced collection and it’s essential to keep these in mind, over the long-term development of your product assortment, as well as in each and every collection you produce. We often think about these as a collection pyramid.

The Base: Every successful fashion company rests upon the success of one or two items which form the foundation of the overall product assortment and a more predictable stream of revenue around which a real business can be built. These products don’t change dramatically from season to season and they become the staples of your product offering. Tory Burch has her Reva ballerina flats, Louis Vuitton has its leather goods and Acne has its denim. Without this kind of solid foundation, it’s difficult to build a successful business.

The Middle: In the middle are the products that you adapt and refresh each season with new colours, fabrics or prints, but the basic silhouettes remain the same. Over time, you may choose to slowly adapt these products and perfect them, but in general, you are using tried and tested shapes which have already been proven in the market.

The Top: At the top of your collection is the purely seasonal elements which are more about driving interest and bringing new energy to your product mix. This may be the pieces you show on the runway and which are featured in the editorial. From time to time, you may have a huge commercial hit at the top part of your collection, but as it’s generally hard to predict exactly what will strike a chord (or which product your favourite A-list celebrity decides to wear), it can sometimes be hard for a small fashion business to capitalise on the short-term buzz generated by these types of products.

Use a stylist – smartly!
Many designers choose to employ the services of a stylist. These can be hired professionals, in-house team members or even a friend or colleague with a good eye. The most important outcome here is that you receive a second opinion on how the collection sits together best and how to present it to buyers or customers. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step, as it can greatly impact your eventual sales.

Make sure that you are designing and developing a product that can reasonably be produced. While that may sound like an obvious point, many talented designers create beautiful concepts that prove to be too expensive or complicated to produce at scale.

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Creating a Business Plan

A business plan is an essential tool, not just for raising investment, but also for clarifying your goals and objectives and communicating these to your wider team of employees, business partners and clients. There are five essential components:

A business plan is an essential tool, not just for raising investment, but also for clarifying your goals and objectives and communicating these to your wider team of employees, business partners and clients. There are five essential components:

Executive Summary: The executive summary is at the beginning of your business plan, but should be the last thing you write. It encapsulates all the key points, ideas and objectives of your business in a very short and concise “elevator pitch.”

Vision & Objectives: This section will help investors, and anyone else reading your business plan, understand what particular market need you are going after and what you will offer that is unique and differentiated.

Market & Competitive Landscape: This section describes the market that you plan to operate in. How big is the market? How fast is it growing and what evidence do you have that this part of the market is a viable opportunity? You also need to identify who the competitors in the market are, whether they are growing and what their position is on the market. What are you going to do that is different?

Implementation Plan: This is probably the most detailed section of your business plan, identifying the specific actions that your business will take to go after the market opportunity you have identified. Ideally, it should cover three years of activity, on a seasonal basis, and should include everything from how you communicate as a business and the staff you will hire, to the space you will need and the outside expertise you will require, in terms of marketing, communications or PR.

Financials: Your financial plan shows how your business will grow in terms of both profit and revenue and what financing you will need to make it happen. An income statement uses projections of how your business will grow at the top line, through sales and other revenues, and will also project the costs of delivering that growth. The cash flow statement shows the peaks and troughs of your cash situation on a monthly basis and identifies what funding you will need to finance growth.

To know more about managing the business angle of your fashion business, you can register with us or find out about our upcoming Fashion Acceleration Program .

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Creating Brand Awareness

In fashion, creating brand awareness is essential, the person designing and developing the product is often also responsible for the advertising campaigns and the brand communication. As a creative director, you will be overseeing multiple parts of the marketing mix.

 

Know Your Customer: A designer should keep a specific target customer in mind as they develop the collection. Think about their lifestyle, budget and what is important to them. Understanding all of these things will help you communicate with your customer and create awareness about your brand.

Brand Story: A brand story is what people will talk about when they think of your brand. It summarises why your brand exists and what are the unique characteristics of your product that makes it distinct from everything else in the market.

Marketing Mix                                                                                                                                The Four Ps: The marketing mix is a set of tools that allow you to craft a clear marketing direction and tell your story.

Product is the tangible physical product or service you provide. The fashion industry has all sorts of different products. You might be known for footwear, evening dresses or active wear. Be specific about what you are selling.

Price effectively positions you in the market. This determines who your competitors are and also the different materials and quality of materials that you will use for your products.

Place is where you distribute and sell your products to customers. You want to make sure that your product is available where your target customer shops and at a place that is consistent with the positioning of your product.

Promotion includes everything from traditional marketing with advertising and PR, to new media marketing on social media. Today it is absolutely essential to have a website and a digital presence.

Advertising: Advertising can help you reach a large audience, control and increase brand awareness and secure press coverage. However paid media comes at a high cost and it will probably be a long time before you can afford it. The real potential for moving your brand forward in terms of image and what you control is online.

Public Relations: When you have things to share, new products coming out or announcements to make, working well with different types of publications is going to be a key part of building your brand. Therefore you should build a good relationship with the press, especially the ones that have taken interest in your product and what you are doing.

Social Media: Social media is a powerful and affordable way to build awareness about your brand. Only engage in those platforms that address your target customer. Be aware that it takes time and resources to manage and provide content on social accounts, so it is probably the right choice, to begin with only one or two social media channels. The fashion community really engages first on Instagram and then on Facebook.

To know more about managing the business angle of your fashion business, you can register with us or find out about our upcoming Fashion Acceleration Program .

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