Congratulations, after years of reading Vogue and watching every episode of project Runway (twice) not to mention the fact that you may have spent years in design school, you have finally decided to take the plunge and launch your own label.
You have spent so much time curating the perfect collection, the photo shoot for the first look book, the hair, the makeup, the shoes everything down to the model’s eyeshadow colour and you are so ridiculously excited to launch your collection online. I mean it worked for the Kardashian’s so of course it is going to work for you.
And you wait…
The one key element I see emerging designers miss, is the ability to leverage wholesale when they first start their business, they don’t think they can approach a fashion buyer until they have proven themselves in the online arena and therefore struggle in the initial stages (sometimes beyond) of their start-us. I am here to tell you that is 100% not true!!
Do you think Karl Lagerfeld became the head of Chanel overnight!? No, he door knocked for TWENTY YEARS and he sold his collections to as many Individual fashion buyers that would look at his pieces…
I am certainly not telling you to door knock for the next 20 years but I can tell you the right way to approach fashion buyers to have the best chance of having your collections seen by more than just your best friend.
Have clear and consistent branding
I can’t stress this enough, your branding is the very first thing a potential stockist will look at and your brand needs to carry it through consistently from the very first look at your garments to your Instagram page. If your brand is minimalist in its detail, follow this through in social media etc. I have seen amazing designers turned away because this wasn’t articulated correctly.
Keep your Look book about the featured item (clothes, shoes etc)
When pitching to potential buyers and stockists make sure your product images are sharp and clear and show the products in their best light, no one wants to see a shoe label where you can’t see the shoes.
Your look book is the voice of your brand so make it count.
Keep your pricing realistic but fair
Wholesale pricing is something that you need to consider carefully when approaching potential buyers.
It is important to not get blind sided by the fact that you really want to get your products into a store and make sure you are looking at your margins and allowing enough to make a small profit. On the other hand, you also don’t want to be charging too much.
A very simple way of calculating would be to take your cost price and x by 2, however this can be different for everyone and I would strongly suggest seeking advice from an accountant or business adviser.
The direct approach is best
Stockists and fashion buyers receive potentially hundreds of requests to look at products and I can guarantee you that half of those would be email introductions and half of them would never make it to the stockist and end up in junk email.
If you are in the local area make the effort to travel to the store and introduce your label and take samples along to view, nothing will gain the attention of a buyer more than someone who take the initiative to travel to them and introduce them personally to their collection.
If you are not in a position where you can travel to the store than make a phone call and introduce yourself to the buyer and ask if they would be interested in seeing a look book and THEN send the email, they will be looking out for it and they won’t be receiving just another email.
The fortune is in the follow up
Following up with a potential buyer approx. 2/3 days after is a great Idea this has given them time to look at any material you gave them and shows them that you have a serious commitment to the growth of your brand.
More than 72% of stockist orders are placed during that follow up conversation.
Approaching fashion buyers can be a scary part of launching a label but with correct preparation it can also be highly profitable and one the best business moves you ever make.