Emerging Brands Fight for Footing in Fashion

The fashion industry continues to evolve as more designers enter the fray increasing competition when sales continue to decline according to the US Census Bureau.

Amidst the decline of an industry that’s already known for being competitive more and more designers want to launch their brands into the saturated industry without realizing the challenges they will face from legal issues, production woes, and overall lack of industry business knowledge.  Not to mention the expensive costs of producing a fashion show from hiring marketers, models, hairstylists, publicists, makeup artists, and most importantly finding a venue.

Fashion shows can cost over $10,000 per show.
Fashion shows can cost over $10,000 per show.  During fashion week shows can cost over $200,000 according to Fashionista.

New designers don’t understand the dynamic of meeting a vendor’s desired selling price.  Jennifer Valveri, a production assistant at the fashion design and Production Company, Darin Group Inc., is always trying to meet price points mediating between the designers and vendors.  To meet the vendors’ price points for select designs her team will alter a designer’s piece –to the dismay of the designer.

“Costing is very important in the industry, you have to know how to cost a garment and know how to make your price point,” said Valveri, 22, from Long Island, “Designers would get upset because we have to remove the belt off a garment or we have to taking lining out.  But in the end they are happy their design is getting out there.”

Designers of course need to constantly become inspired to create magnificent pieces that consumers desire to purchase but they should also be aware of how to market their future brand.  Fashion Attorney, Deanna Clark-Esposito, who worked with clients on both a domestic and international scale said there are two major pitfalls for new brands: the lack of knowledge for disclosure laws and the lack of market research before launching a brand.   Esposito said brands need to understand the market they want to enter like what designer Derek Lam did in 2011 when he crowdsourced opinions before showcasing items on his runway shows.

In regards to the disclosure laws, brands need to understand that the government has been cracking down on companies and that the government has the authority to audit your brand’s history from the last five years according to Clark-Esposito.   Last March, retailer Lord  & Taylor settled their lawsuit brought by the FTC for not disclosing the fact that their brand influencers were posting sponsored Instagram content on behalf of Lord & Taylor. Clark-Esposito has an upcoming book, A Practical Guide to Fashion Law and Compliance, which will be published in January 2018 that is meant to educate fashion entrepreneurs about fashion issues like disclosure laws fashion entrepreneurs should be aware of.

“There’s all these brands that want to claim that they are made in the USA,” said Clark-Esposito, from Brooklyn,  “The problem is that when it comes to apparel and textiles if it’s made with something that’s imported you really need to say it’s imported.  You can never just make a blanket claim.”

Jacqueline Pereira, a 21-year-old Queen’s native and model has walked down the runways of Brooklyn Fashion Week.  Designers need to be innovative and have functional clothes that will look good on diverse body types said Pereira.   Pereira said from her experience working with different brands that the major pitfall for emerging brands is they aren’t unique but instead generic.

“It’s actually getting hard for Designers. There’s a lot of competition and you have to be really unique in what you do by switching up the material you work with,” said Pereira, “sometimes when you go to stores you find the same material –that’s not thinking out of the box.”

JP (Model)
Pereira is a senior at Baruch College majoring in accounting.

Although there are struggles to become successful in the industry, that doesn’t mean new brands can’t succeed.  Shock & Awww, an edgy and bold women’s fashion brand helmed by identical twins, Shawn and Claire Buitendorp made their grand debut into the industry in 2015.  They have had celebrities from Katy Perry to Betsey Johnson endorse the brand.   They credit their success from being unique and studying fashion technology while in college —they used social media to connect themselves with industry professionals.

(Photo Courtesy of the Buitendorps) The twins were winners on VH1’s reality competition show Twinning.

“To succeed in the fashion industry, you have to secure your vision and confidence surrounding the statement pieces you’re creating,” said Claire Buitendorp, 25, from Manhattan, “Like so many innovative great brands out there, Shock & Awww has been so successful, specifically in New York City and Los Angeles markets, because it is authentic and sets trends in motion instead of following them.”

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