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Packed Full of Informative Advice: The FashionCapital Trunk Show #3


With an audience full to capacity the third Trunk Show was a resounding success! Fashion students, graduates and new business startups all attended the four hour workshops to gain an invaluable insight into the real fashion industry and top tips to running a fashion label successfully.

The speakers offered a wealth of experience across different topics from working with a manufacturer, the sampling process, understanding fabric properties, the meaning of quality to customers, how to manage your finances and how to do your own PR!

The seminar kicked off with Jenni Sutton, Director Fashion Enter providing a background of who Fashion Enter is and the journey from a not for profit organisation supporting designers to a fully compliant UK manufacturer offering training, mentoring, sampling and production. Jenni discussed what makes a manufacturer ethical and what designers should be looking out for when they visit production units for their sampling. She spoke about the importance of the right policies and procedures in place, health and safety, in work checks and quality control, machine maintenance and the complete garment life cycle from fabric delivery through to pressing and packing.

Jenni also offered advice on how to work with a sampling unit and what designers should prepare before their first initial consultation. She explained what a tech pack was, the process of working with a pattern cutter, what a gold seal sample is, pre production, information required for the cutting docket, the production process, QC and final delivery. Jenni finished on a top tip about rolling ranges and showed the ASOS scuba bodycon dress manufactured in the Factory as an example. The dress has been a popular and recurring style for two years proving the traditional spring/summer and autumn/winter ranges for buyers were no longer relevant. The advice was to disregard two collections for seasonal buys, if you find a style that sells keep that pattern and change the colour, print, adapt for maternity, add a trim, offer a petite option! Don’t reinvent the wheel, keep to what you know and save money by making simple changes to a style you know works!

Following Jenni, Deborah Shulton spoke about the importance of understanding fabric properties. Deborah worked as a Fabric Technologist for Marks & Spencer for 20 years having studied Textile Technology at University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) where she was sponsored by M&S.

It is astonishing that many designers and buyers enter a fashion career with very little textile knowledge or understanding of properties and why certain fabrics behave the way they do. Deborah’s talk gave an essential guide to textiles and a general appreciation of textile manufacturing with important influences such as cost, lead time and quality all highlighted. She spoke of the difference between natural and man-made fibres and their origins before moving onto to discuss the key properties of different fibres, dying and finishing – how and why colour is added at specific stages, different finishing techniques and best practices for looking at colour. Overall an insightful and information-packed talk!

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Sophie Glover

Next to talk was Sophie Glover and having previously worked at Topshop, ASOS and Finery London as Head of Technical had wealth of knowledge and top tips for designers. She stressed the importance of knowing who your customer is and where they shop. Look at your competitors and learn from them! Discussing what quality really means Sophie shared what the industry really defines as quality within sample and garment production for brands.  “You have to make sure your fit is consistent across all products…make sure your fit is standardised…customers will keep coming back if it is.”  Focusing on sizing, Sophie advised, “if you are setting up online give your customer as much information as possible regarding sizing and fit.”

Following a short break to allow the audience to digest the information relayed so far, Bernadette Done, Business Development Manager from ABC Awards gave an insight into the accredited technical qualifications available in the sector and the support from ABC Awards keeping the skills alive in British manufacturing.

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Alex from Sage

Next up Alex Coburn from the sponsors Sage explained who Sage was and the software they have developed to help young creative businesses manage their own finances simply and efficiently. He explained that although 90% of new businesses survive after one year a shocking 40% die after five years due to poor cash flow and accounting management! Common problems for start ups include compliance – they need a solution they can trust, lack confidence and the majority of small business owners are scared of making a mistake. Time – 30-35% of Sole traders/Small business need a solution that needs no learning and is simple to use as they have no time to train and Cash-flow, – many small & Micro businesses work hard just to stay afloat and 39% struggle to get paid.  The solution – the new Sage One software designed specifically for new business startups, and with a free 30 day trial and 50% discount off the first three months for Fashion Enter designers an opportunity not to be missed – http://uk.sageone.com/fashion-enter/

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Rosie Davis

Then finally last but certainly not least, founder and Director of PR Dispatch, Rosie Davies, shared her secrets on how to successfully do your own PR!  “Before you start with any PR you need a strong brand identity, brand ethics, brand story and brand imagery!” Rosie began, before stating, “social media is crucial to brand awareness and it is great for establishing relationships with editors, bloggers and your customer… but you have to ensure that your tone of voice is consistent throughout!”  Telling the group the benefits of working with editors and influencers, Rosie continued, “working with influencers is great for building brand awareness, however, this may not always translate to sales straightaway. When working with editors, always remember to show thanks… they will remember this!”

Feedback comments included:

“I’m glad I came to the trunk show, I received helpful information about sustainability and running a business.” Raquel Fernandes

“The trunk show offered a wide range of valuable information and the guest speaks gave a real positive advise such as the roles of a garment tech and handling your own PR.” Isabella Palacz

“FashionCapital Trunk show has given me useful information going after my graduation, especially about the process of manufacturing and sourcing. The PR advise given by Rosie Davies was great touching on ideas of how promote and manage your business. As a whole the event was a a very informative compact package and could be a great lecture series at Universities.” Dalia Eid

“I have learnt more information about how the industry works including job roles and laws that regulate the industry. Topics like this are not taught at University, so it’s lovely to get more knowledge about it before going out into the industry.” Jordanna Louise Smith

“Vital information on PR from Rosie Davies and how platforms view brands and products. It was a lovely atmosphere and the speaker’s shared great knowledge.” Jenn Parker

“I have learnt about garment technology and how important it is in the production phase in the industry. It was very useful information and I had a great time.” Lily Hewes

“The information shared at the event is relevant for our students and I’m looking forward to visiting the Factory.” Lynne Hugilla

“The most interesting and the most valuable discussion for me was ‘How to do your own PR’ as well as the processes of sourcing and manufacturing.” Helena Sloan

“I come from Animation and the VFX industry and I found this event great. It was fantastic to knowledge given by the speaker’s and it was great to know more in the area of fashion.” Chattida

“It was really interesting learning the role of a Garment Tech specialist, as well as the complexity of testing fabrics.” Elle Prior

Watch this space for the next FashionCapital Trunk Show!

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