With the amazing Accra Fashion Week 2016 on it’s way, AFWk in conjunction with FashionGHANA.com will bring you designer tips from time to time. The Accra Fashion Week which is scheduled to take place at the Trade Fair Center is said to feature a host of international designers from around the globe in and outside of Africa.
The main purpose is to create a business hub that can satisfy the creative and employment desires of the fashion industry and fashionistas of Ghana. With the growth of fashion in Ghana we have decided to bring forth weekly tips for those who wish to get involved in the industry.
This week we look at five pointers designers can adopt to better their relationships with fashion buyers, so read and learn below.
1) LABEL YOUR COLLECTION RIGHT; STOP IMITATING EUROPEANS WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING
The motive to mimic the west in collection labels is at an all time high and for real fashioners who know what the labels are for, it’s fairly embarrassing to see African designers continuously use S/S (Spring Summer), A/W (Autumn Winter) and F/W (Fall Winter) of which none of those seasons exist in Africa except SA. Some might argue they are targeting their European market, that is fine, but almost, if not all these collections don’t have buyers in Europe so it then becomes irrelivant. And even if they did they are using it wrongly.
When you put out a look book or display a collection on the runway that is actually AVAILABLE for people to buy, upon the time it is exposed, it’s not relevant to make it an S/S, A/W or F/W collection, it makes it a READY-TO-WEAR (RTW) collection, which is what most Africans should do as all collections here are available upon release but yet they still use the S/S A/W etc. Using those (S/S, A/W, F/W) is to indicate that you are showcasing a collection coming soon to that particular season some 4-9 months ahead which is in no way available to the public at the time it’s displayed. Those labels are actually to indicate to buyers whom you wish to buy your collection, that there is enough time to produce, distribute and stock your clothes ahead of it’s release if they buy.
We see this in many cases as we publish collections almost daily, and at times we are uncertain if we should inform the designers about their embarrassing misuse of the labels or just publish. Most times we just publish, don’t be like them, and if you know a designer who does this, share this with them for them to read it. This has also been elaborated more in our past articles, Stop Using A/W & S/S in Africa and African designers using their own seasonal labels.
2) SELECT YOUR FABRICS WITH MASS PRODUCTION IN MIND
I once recall at the end of a fashion show, backstage a designer complained about the lack of buyers at the show and how it was pointless that she just showcased. The first thing I did was look at her collection. Upon the fact that it was already in the market for months, which will not entice any buyers. She had also been using unique and beautiful wax fabrics. On one hand she had a beautiful selection of fabrics that are probably hard to find, on the other hand if a buyer approached her to buy 1000 of her pieces to be made in a months time she will probably have no clue where to buy the fabric as it’s rare. This doesn’t just apply to wax print, the same goes for various types of fabrics and accessories you use. Make sure it is always abundant in the market and that what sells your clothes is you actual design and creativity. Buyers go to fashion weeks and show after show, imagine how they feel when they come to a show only to meet designers who have no clue, are not in the right position to reproduce and not prepared for buyers?
3) MAKE USE OF ALL MEDIA
There is a, ‘I am above You’ behavior in Ghana, where if a designer, show organiser or model manages to be featured in the “Black Blog” of Vogue magazine or any mainstream brand then it’s ‘forget the african media’ mentality. People really need to understand the concepts of Africa is rising. Using FashionGHANA media as an example, within the past 3 years, with no paid advertisement we have 1/2 the following of Vogue Italia’s facebook page which has been active for 6 years WITH advertisement. Our fan base is filled with core people looking to support African fashion from all over the world, whilst only a fragment of theirs, only a few of their following will consider looking at African fashion. In real analysis, yes it sounds more credible to call out your features in Vogue, Comso’s, Elle etc. But in practicality, you are doing yourself a disservice by not strengthening your relationship and seeking features in African media.
As competition is not strong, designers may be lax of subjective behavior, but this only gives much more space to your competitors who can use this to surpass your brand. One also needs to adopt the ‘Drops of Water Make An Ocean’. Even if you get featured on a small blog, that small blog still might have a 100 readers whom could turn into clients, if all it takes is to add them to your e-mailing list, why not? So take advantage of media. Most of them are actually awaiting content to publish, if you do not have a PR to do this for you you can get intouch with us.
4) DON’T ALWAYS BE EAGER TO PUT OUT READY-TO-WEAR COLLECTIONS
There is a copy and paste mentality that soars in Africa due to our culture of tailors. So it is understandable that when a collection is made people want to sell it as soon as they can instead of waiting 6 months to put it out. Because the chances that someone will take it to a tailor to duplicate is very high. That is true, hence why it is important to do shows and utilize the media to brand the designs to your name.
However, we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t think mainstream brands did not face the same challenges. Also producing large amounts and getting them to buyers is not a one day job. And if your items are out on release, consider the time it might takes to capture a buyers heart, ie those that don’t attend the show or see the look book as soon as. It may be a month or two. Then negotiating orders and then production time, etc. By the time you get it to your buyer it might as well be called ‘Old Fashion’. Hence why buyers seek to purchase seasonal designs as put above. Target fashion shows that have a lot of media, but most importantly, show a strong focus on buyers. Find some sort of association or organization that can help patent or secure your designs prior to the show. That will be hard in Ghana considering most of the associations are rendered incompetent, but you would find a way if you push.
5) ENSURE YOUR BUYERS SELL CLOTHES
Most designers here release their look books, find a few buyers who will stock their clothes in their shop, and then after sales they go back to designing, leaving the struggle to sell the products in the hands of the buyers or stockists. Yes, after you have sold to shops you have technically made your money and it is not your responsibility to ensure the shop sells your clothes. They have the responsibility to sell and if they do not sell you do not lose money.
BUT how does that set terms for your future clothes or releases? If you items are stocked in a shop and they do not sell what are the chances the shop or buyer will come to you for your next stock or collection? It is courtesy and business savvy that when a shop or buyer stocks your clothes one must utilize the media, social media and other forms of media to promote the brand to get people wanting to wear the clothes as well as promote the outlets where people can buy it from. Sales from a stockists will promise you sales on your next collection.
Thank you for reading. Once again if you are seeking to launch your career in the best way possible or establish yourself from a known brand to a mass selling brand showcasing at Accra Fashion Week might just be what you need to elevate your status. Visit Accra Fashion Week.org and register right away.