Miss Bias

25 March 2013

LMFF "The Designer's Universe" Industry Forum

Well L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week (LMFF) came and went last week. It was an eventful week full of fabulous fashion, culture, style, celebrities and industry networking. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get too involved this year, as I had a lot of personal creative projects that I had committed to as well as working full time. But I did go to one event, which was possibly the most insightful event for many upcoming and existing designers, stylists and fashion retail folk.

The Designer's Universe Industry Forum brought together a panel of industry and fashion business experts to discuss various topics that were highly relevant for all fashion designers, stylists and aspiring fashion entrepreneurs.

The guest speakers for this Forum were David Briskin (CEO of Sass & Bide), David Botta (Director of Kuba Retail Partners AUS), Adam Worling (Director AWPR AUS), Yeojin Bae (Designer), Kelvin Harries (Freelance Stylist and Creative Director) and Al Weekes (Creative Director). Glynis Traill-Nash (Host)

These panelists provided a wealth of knowledge and advice that was very insightful and it was well worth attending.

I wanted to share with you some of the key points that I took away from the forum as I really did find the information extremely valuable.

- Product is crucial. You need to have an unique and great product.
- Have a business plan. Use it as a proof of concept, tracking goals and also as an aid to secure financial backing.
- Brand awareness is important. Identify your brand (its core vision) and its place within the marketplace.
- Brand authenticity sets a foundation of trust for both personal and commercial needs.
- Have a "mantra" for your designs and creative directions.
- Cashflow is essential. Therefore, have financial stability and funds before starting your own label.
- Have sound (if not good) business skills/knowledge or know someone that can give you good advice.
- Investors/Banks are looking for financial security, success in sales, Brand "DNA" and brands/labels with potential. Therefore, business reporting is as important as designing.
- Don't expand overseas until you've conquered the Australian market and have plenty of cashflow and capital before doing so.
- Have a trusted ally that you can turn to and bounce ideas off.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Turn to people with expertise for areas that you are not so good at.
- Research before selecting a manufacturer. Having a reliable and good manufacturer is important. An agent can assist with this.
- An agent can also help you to sell your product to bigger retailers.
- If you are a graduate, go out and gain industry, business and life experience before starting your own label.
- Build relationships. Networking is key.
- Getting the right Stylist/Designer relationship can be very advantageous. 
- Regularly review and refine your brand's/label's core values and their appropriateness in the current marketplace.
- PR is a commercially driven vehicle for any brand/label. However, when starting out, learn to be your own PR person.
- Get onto social media.
- Don't try and do everything at once. Building a business takes time. Stick to your business plan and the goals that are set out in it.

Overall, it was an extremely informative industry forum with a group of experts openly willing to share their expansive knowledge of what they have learned throughout their very successful careers.

David Briskin

Yeojin Bae and Kelvin Harries

The panelists before the event started. Can you spot me in the auditorium?

Glynis Traill-Nash posing great questions to the panel.

All photos sourced from LMFF Facebook Page.

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