Vauxhall Fashion Scout Mentoring Session

We welcomed Alice Wylie (The Scotsman), Sarah Murray (Jane Davidson), Martyn Roberts (Vauxhall Fashion Scout) to our mentoring panel, chaired by Chris Hunt (Genuine)

Our panel members gave invaluable insight into starting up a fashion/design business to a mix of students, graduates and industry through panel discussion and a Q&A session.

We tweeted from the event, gain some of the panel’s insight below.

  • Martyn Roberts Fashion is a creative business. Learn from others and know how to run a business
  • Sarah Murray on how important your main customer is: stores/resellers. Research target customers and what they buy
  • Chris Hunt on how important press is when launching, but that product quality must live up to it and target market
  • Alice Wylie on press: we won’t run the same piece again, keep being innovative
  • Martyn Roberts digital is important, register your domain name and have ‘brand’ email – looking professional is key
  • Chris Hunt Support is available for funding and launching/growing your business through a number of organisations
  • Martyn Roberts you won’t always launch immediately, many support business with other work to ensure cashflow until established
  • Sarah Murray “I sell off a hanger so I like to buy off a hanger” models are great but we have to check the quality
  • Sarah Murray buyers can be really helpful in establishing your brand and can be great sources of advice
  • Martyn Roberts typical markup on wholesale is about 2.7-2.9; this is key for your retail stockists. Always cost wholesale to them
  • When meeting buyers work out how you’ll present and pull clothes out of transport cases etc; has to be slick and prepared
  • Audience Q how do you find direct contact for buying/press? A: pick up the phone and talk, get to know people who may help at all levels
  • Martyn Roberts you are the best salesperson for your business, talk/show products with passion. Create interest and intrigue. Don’t hide.
  • Sarah Murray passion is infectious. Share your collection, but not everyone will buy or like the same pieces you do, respect that.
  • Martin/Sarah talk about exclusives – it can help establish presence but look at the deal based on retailler/region and timescales
  • Once you get stockists, help them sell. Train staff, customer evenings, great images and description for website can benefit you both
  • Talk to your retailers, find what sells and what doesn’t; swap your stock and try and work with them to get the best product mix
  • Make sure your press coverage is in publications which are read by your target market: retailers and their customers
  • Alice Wylie Individual contacts are key, find who they are, what they’re looking for and when they need content
  • Martyn Glossies like Vogue are working about 3 months ahead; Alice: weeklies need content 1-2 weeks ahead. Make their lives easy
  • Collections aren’t stories, you need a news angle to any story to capture attention of journalists, editors and readers. Images also key!
  • A designer profile is about you and your label – stays constant, a press release is about a single item/collection/event – each different.
  • Your press releases should feature your designer profile and collection information as editors notes below the content
  • When sending out images, files less than 1mb attached to email, have high res images available elsewhere for print.
  • The industry is built on trust between designers, PRs and journalists – respect this and be open/honest esp around exclusives and embargos
  • Designers should design, you’ll often get better results using interns/agencies and focus on your main skills
  • When doing press, expect/demand reports on coverage/results and talk through your market and demographics to hit targets.
  • When sending out stock/samples always send delivery notes so nothing can get lost/damaged
  • Delivery notes should describe products (no codes/internal references) and terms for damages/loss and who covers this
  • Martyn short term publicity – word of mouth among friends and Twitter is great for reaching industry (but keep it professional)
  • Q are smaller events like Brighton Fashion Week worth it, A: Yes, group up and make an impact with popup shops etc and split costs/time
  • Martyn & Chris don’t run before you can walk, start small, learn from mistakes and grow gradually
  • If you’re going to get great press make sure it comes at the right time so that the business can support it and fulfil orders etc
  • How important is business location, A: It doesn’t really matter unless you’re travelling a lot. You can have external showrooms etc.