An in-depth Q&A with a fashion brand consultant
The all-seeing eye of The Simple Cool stumbled on this self-hosted QA over on Reddit tonight and its turning out to be gold. Interested in what it takes to make a successful brand or get it in celebrity hands? Take a look at the below.
Could we know some of the various brands you have worked with if possible? I know that you may have signed NDA agreements and other things.
I can’t disclose the names of the brands publicly but I’ve worked with three major Asian streetwear labels, three Italian fashion labels, and two American ones. You’ve seen their clothes on Wiz, Nicki Minaj, Bieber, Drake, tonne of Korean popstar people etc. I’d say more if I could, but I’m here more to help younger designers/brand owners not make some of the same mistakes I did growing up.
I have a small streetwear brand and was wondering how do you get your clothes noticed by celebrities, should it just come organically or should you just keep sending ig msg and emails?
To get noticed by celebrities, notice the brands they are wearing that are similar to yours, and try to compete against that level of quality and design. If you are new, you probably don’t have access to atelier level manufacturing so you’re stuck with just trying to be a good designer. Look at Marcelo Burlon, his graphics are insane. Those are just graphics, you can learn to be that dope too. That can be printed almost anywhere. You don’t need an atelier to make a product that dope.
Let’s say he has a dope product. how can he get it on a celebrities hand?
Everybody needs to stop being so focused on getting on celebrities. It doesn’t work unless that artist is down to wear you for a full year straight and really ride for you. Can you name any of the designer dresses Miley Cyrus has worn to the MTV awards? I actually can, but only because I’m an expert. Getting a celebrity to wear your brand is not a substitute for a proper business structure or long term brand narrative, it’s only a perk, and most of the time it doesn’t even spike your sales. I worked with one label that was worn by Nicki Minaj for 3 days straight and it didn’t increase their social media or web presence and they’re already huge.
Your options to get it on a celebrity are either pay like a $300k endorsement deal to Kanye, if he’ll even accept it. Or contact a celebrity stylist, which often don’t have as much pull as they say they do.
How did you get into the fashion business? Did you go to school for something specifically fashion related, If so what?
I actually started as a graphic designer, blogger, and sneaker collector. I ended up getting recruited to a smaller label as a creative director because I kept showing up to their graffiti sessions to blog what they were doing, they took notice of my effort and eventually put me on. 7 years later I’m doing it professionally. I did a bachelor of arts in immigration studies so my undergrad had nothing to do with my actual training, the rest I learned on the job.
For schooling I actually recommend you don’t go at all like I did and just try to work in it as fast as possible. Virgil Abloh went to architecture school and ran a store on the side. That sort of thing, get your feet wet!
Do you like your job?
Running labels and dealing with budgets and deadlines is insanely stressful sometimes but when you get front page on a magazine or get on Hypebeast or something, or get a celebrity to wear your stuff and you see your inbox flood up, you feel like you have some kinda hacker/wizardy sort of power. Like you’re hacking the matrix of streetculture with rational planning.
Is there any place for somebody in the fashion industry with a strong bachelors in Media and Journalism and a Masters in Professional Writing? I’ve studied a lot of cultural aspects of media and film too etc.
Of course. You can work for a fashion media company like Fashion TV, any of the major magazines (Elle, Vogue etc) or streetwear blogs like Complex or Hypebeast. Even Vice has a I-D now with hosted vlog segments.
Fashion writing is actually quite difficult because it’s like writing about abstract art, it’s very wordy and almost obscenely descriptive. If you have a masters in writing though you’ll probaby do it with ease.
Places that hire fashion journalists really want to see that you’re invested heavily in the industry and really appreciate it as an artform.
How to promote a brand organically?
Firstly, start with good products. When you scale your company, the only thing that will retain loyal customers and build your brand equity is putting out good consistent stuff, better than anybody else, at a competitive price. This is why Supreme is still king, consistent, cool aesthetic, competitively priced for the cheaper stuff, exclusive. Word of mouth still serves as the best but before that yeah you gotta jumpstart it.
I think I’m going to answer that question in a longer post but I’ll sum it up here.
Here’s what I did before, it’s almost like the highschool method of promoting before you hit the bigger leagues. Literally get every hot girl you know in your immediate vicinity to wear your brand and post photos. This of course sounds insanely ghetto, but when you scale to corporate level you’re more or less doing the same thing. Just with way bigger budgets and way more expensive models.
Do the same thing locally, then email instagram models too that you know you can obtain. Don’t go for the big ones first they’ll just ignore you.
So get the girls, the guys will follow. Then also, throw mad parties. Sponsor as many local artists/music people/dancers/painters etc as you can. Build the brand around a core group of individuals.
I can go way deeper on this subject but you need to get a bit of local buzz first before I even discuss the challenge of trying to go international with it afterwards.
What seems to be the most consistent factor/characteristic among great fashion/designs? like what’s the winning formula in terms of trends?
Great fashion designers tend to be; – Dropouts or didn’t even attend fashion school. Fashion school makes you think inside the box, great artists try to avoid the box as much as possible so dodging that stage 1 programming is to your benefit. – Nearly all of them are insanely hard working talented, tasteful gay guys. This might be so major fashion houses don’t have to deal with pregnancies but that’s my conspiracy theory lol. – Amazing designers are storytellers through the medium of fashion. They don’t have to say it, they can imply it through the clothes. – From what I’ve seen, a lot of the really edgy ones are on drugs or party a lot. The gay party scene is pretty drug heavy, that can contribute it to as well.
– In terms of trends, you gotta do 50% something people are familiar with, and 50% completely innovative in terms of art or technology. Design is applied art, fused with technology so those who can bring both together constantly tend to always stay ahead of the curve.
How does one get publicity with this much competition nowadays with Internet? like with so many aspiring designers and startup/homemade street wear brands, how do I get noticed by the public because stuff like Instagram etc are flooded with same stuff.
Substance > Hype. All instagram, social media, blogs, buzz etc is is just an outlet for hype and promotion. Check out Damir Doma’s instagram a few years back, it only had 1300 followers. Check out Soulja Boy’s BLVD Supply, it has tonnes.
But who’s getting into all the runway shows and fashion magazines? The designers with real substance. The designers who are telling real stories and pushing forward innovative human art centimeters each day for all of us.
If you want to get noticed, focus really hard the clothing design element. Study the history of fashion, your favourite designers, and who inspired your favourite designers. Read art biographies, really study the artistic process and create something memorable. I recommend reading the War of Art if you’re more interested in the subject of how to competitively get better as a creative.