Fashion Designers – What to do and What not to do for young designers and aspiring designers

In this blog I will be talking about some of the most common mistakes young aspiring designers do and how to possibly overcome them. I understand most young designers are extremely passionate and love the work they do, but can that be their downfall? Some aspiring young designers might actually hate me for some of the advise I will be giving or they may say it doesn’t make sense. But, I will try to give adequate reasoning to reckon your doubts, beyond which I can say, you will realise at a later time in your life.

All credits for these set of advises go on for my faculty Ms. Kavita Saluja of National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bengaluru. Although they didn’t sound quite meaningful to me back then, ten years down the lane, they have started to make a lot of sense to me, getting more meaningful as time flies. For that, I would say, she was one of the best teachers I had, not just to teach design but to teach life lessons as a designer!

  1. Never Fall in love with your designs, you’re not going to get married to them! – Falling in love with your ideas and design blinds you from evolving further. Thine love will blind you from approaches that could possibly make your design/design philosophy better! Fall in love with the process, but the product that could be the result of the process is after all a product, once it is done, it is time to move on!
  2. Never try to visualise what your product will be at the start of the design process (the process has been detailed in another blog, click here to understand the design process.) The most jarring mistake most young designers do actually. They try to visualise the design right at the conceptualization stage or in the act of making their boards, worse still! they try to work on their designs even before the design research! Just like above, your ideas might be great, but dont you think your ideas might be better? maybe or just maybe! there’s always room for improvement, and how does one achieve improvement? by being open minded to more ideas and interpretations in the design process. By giving time to the design process to evolve your ideas. The best way is to follow your ideas as part of the process, maybe a small detail, maybe an overall silhouette, till the end and then putting in your ideas together to complete as a meaningful composition.
  3. Get your basics right! Technically! – Any ingrate apprentice worth of any skill will make you understand that how can you do a trade without learning the trade. Many designers make this foolhardy mistake by thinking design is on paper. But in my faculty’s own words (and now in my own words too), any design which cannot be practically made but beautifully rendered on paper, is just a piece of paper, not worth more than the paper we use as our a**wipe! So, how do you counter this? With sound technical knowledge of how your product can be made, will you design a beautiful product which can be practically made! Makes sense, doesn’t it?
  4. The devil is in the detail – Really! Well, another common mistake most young fashion designers do! Ignore the little details! They love to imagine a whole silhouette
  5. Never think you are the best, even if you think you are! – This is more or less related to point no. one and two, about not falling in love, and falling in love at first sight or the first idea that pops in your beautiful mind! Understand! your designed product might be out of this world! but there are people out there who could have always made it better, can still make it better or are just too good to be true, only when you can compete against yourself, can you truly achieve better! again! I say better because it is not the best, it can always get better! This is the attitude all us designers have to follow if you wish to be called the master of your trade!
  6. Work your finances before taking the leap to follow your passion, and watch out for the same once you doA very important point that most young entrepreneurs fail to work with. I would say plan for atleast 3 years of survival, work out your expenses for the next three years breaking them into product manufacturing, infrastructure and marketing at the least. Creating a secondary income will also help to keep you in your cushion space to follow your dreams. Planning is of extreme importance as most designers might tend to overspend in the beginning only to be bogged down by financial issues later on. Always remember, no matter how great your product is, there is always someone trying to compete with you and beat you down especially if they are better placed financially. Also understand your product might be the best in the market but how far will you sell them and make your business profitable is completely another side of the story, something even great business acumen might not be able to predict exactly!
  7. Keep an eye out to what your competition and other labels are doingThis is a good habit to understand where you stand in the market and how better are you than your competitors, most philosophers might say you are your own competition and your restrictions are only your mind and body, but most of these philosophers and inspirational speakers are already well to do or they might die alone! They don’t generate business for you. So, to keep an eye on your competition, not just in design, but their marketing strategies as well is a great way to stay ahead of the competition. With sources such as internet which are open to the world, it is much easier to do this, these days, but a physical visit to their stores or manufacturing units might help a great deal as well!
  8. Keep it practical and put yourself in your client’s shoes with a touch of your design philosophy, else your design might be a piece of art! Understand the difference between a designer and an artist – Business and art are two opposite poles of the earth, whilst one follows the mind, the latter follows the heart! A designer’s role is have a great balance of both if he/she wants to see returns for his work. Although some designers might argue on the latter, I would call it a balance. Allowing business development and marketable products with your design philosophy applied is the balance most designers need to maintain, any misbalance of the two also creates chaos or loss in one’s originality and philosophies with which their label was started with. All I can say here is, it is good to day dream, but dream being aware! Dream whilst being attentive!
  9. Keep an eye on timelines – follow the 4 P’s. – the right product, in the right place, at the right price, with the right promotion! That’s the basics of marketing to you, what can I say? It is self explanatory! So how far are you aware of the same and how will you work towards achieving the above 4 P’s is all that matters for a good business to start!

I do not wish to discourage any designers or design dreamers, but these are just words of caution. things to do and not to do towards achieving a sustainable business and growth over a long term. Personally, I am not a big fan of discoveries/fame achievers overnight, always remember the long term goals and work towards them as a strong foundation for the business is always a great place to stand rather than on shaky ground. Also, remember! nothing beats efforts and enthusiasm, your journey might be followed by many naysayers and discouragement, but follow your dream! and be aware and attentive of how your business should grow! A well to do business is a relationship of successful collaborations and team efforts, manage and build a team that works towards your philosophies and ideas; and also advises you and lifts you up in the right direction. Stop listening to philosophers, listen to advise but be smart enough to understand what works for your profitability and follow what works. It is good to experiment to understand and make mistakes but learn from your mistakes over the course of time, and keep the cushion financially and mentally not to suffer hard from your mistakes!

Always remember! The business of Creativity is a journey whose destination does not matter, its the journey! So, make it count, nothing wrong in stumbling along the way, but always learn to pick yourself up, dust off the bruises and keep moving!

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