Yesterday, Fashionista hosted a panel at NYU's Cantor Center called "How I'm Making It: What It Takes to Be Successful in Fashion" featuring designers Timo Weiland, Jeff Halmos, Rebecca Minkoff, The owners from Odin- Paul and Eddie, one of the co-founders of Farfetched.com, and Nellie Partow. As panels go, this one was quick, super in formative and funny. Clocking in with the broad question and answer in under an hour and fifteen minutes, the designers/entrepreneurs/fashion mad scientists stayed around for almost another hour.
In terms of the discussion, it was interesting to hear semi-varied and such personal anecdotes from each speaker. Jeff Halmos, when starting Trovata, used to carry his samples into different boutiques to sell his wares to the buyers. Rebecca Minkoff convinced a boutique to sell a couple of her pieces on consignment, then made flyers about her line and confidently handed them out in Union Square, and the owners of Odin held day jobs for the first three years of Odin's life.
It is hard for any panel to come off not as motivational or "tough talks for tough times," but the panelists did a good job of staying on topic, since there was only one topic, and being realistic. The Fashionista moderators did a great job of asking them questions that helped illustrate the fashion industry to the outsider, such as how did you start, where internships helpful to you, how has social media and technology helped you, ect. Rebecca Minkoff used to get on a purse forum, which is full of avid purse fans, to ask them questions about her bags and if things needed to be changed ect. That involvement of her customer base is what has helped keep her line afloat during this recession. Her website has a blog where customers can also interact with the products and leave criticism and feedback.
The audience question and answer is where things got a bit meddled, since some of the questions were vague. A lot of people inquired about factories, here or in China and how to find one. Well, the Timo Weiland boys said to visit the Garment district and literally ride up and down the elevators and visit places, Jeff Halmos said that you just get to know people but there is no excel spread sheet for factory finding. What the girl really meant was what factories do each of you use, perhaps she didn't want to be so direct. The hard part with audience participation is that people will imply the answers they want in the questions they ask, instead of directly stating "what is your factory" or "is it a good idea to really use credit cards to start your business" instead of "where can i find factories" and "how does one find backers?"
What was the hook, line and sinker in getting my apt attention was the frequency people spoke about online mediums, social media, websites, forums, ect. These things are helpful for designers and for customers, because it is now how people research, interact and find labels and boutiques in the modern age.
One last fun fact- Timo Weiland is doing a collaboration with a UK retailer, I'm betting it's Topshop. Here's hoping it's for men and women.
me in my timo weiland shirt, and a too big phillip lim skirt i've attempted to paper bag it in the waist