Designer Tips From Andrew Nowell (Menswear and Underwear)
and Anna Orthwein (Luxury Handbags)
The first designer on the panel was Andrew Nowell, a menswear and men’s underwear designer. His menswear label is Andrew Nowell Menswear, and his underwear label is DaSoul. He was born and raised in New York during the 80's hip-hop era, which helped to influence his designing inspiration. He begins his collections by picking different fabrics and pairing them with more tailored designs. He founds his designs in the idea that men want to be both comfortable and dressed up. They want to be neat and put together while also feeling relaxed. The second designer on the panel was Anna Orthwein. She is new to the scene as a luxury handbag designer. She comes from a heavily scientific research background. She did study fashion early in her university studies, but soon switched to the sciences. Her love for oil painting inspired her path to designing. She loves to start with colors on a canvas and create beautiful designs out of colorful inspiration.
When starting out as a designer it is important to be realistic about the cost of your dream. Andrew Nowell described financing and finding investors as savagery - If you aren’t pulling in at least 10 million dollars a year in revenue then most investors won’t even bat an eye in your direction. Big investors want to see that you are capable of making a large revenue on a consistent basis. So, for those just starting out you must get creative with your funding. Anna Orthwein explained how she started by asking everyone she knew: friends, family, etc. She also had a good nest egg to start out with because of her previous job as a researcher (important to not spend your last and stay financially afloat – everyone has to eat, be clothed, and sheltered). She was able to get a loan from the bank. There are also resources in every state (ex: Maryland Small Business Loan) where you can borrow money from the state to help fund your small brand. Anna also mentioned selling equity in the business to help fund a start-up. This suggestion is given with caution, because each business person must pick their partner carefully. It is very important to make sure you are on the same page and want the business going in the same direction, at the same speed, with the same appearance.
For those just starting out you may begin by making only a few pieces that don’t need to be mass produced. However, as you start to grow you will get more orders and have less time to fill them. This is when the importance of finding staff becomes essential. It was said to be much easier to find staff to help with social media and networking than to actually participate in the manual labor of making apparel or accessories. Using media outlets to look for help can be incredibly useful. Places like Craigslist, Google, etc. If you look hard enough Anna O. revealed that there are some people who hold their staff list very close to the cuff. They will, however, sell you the list for a certain price. Quality staff is a very important piece of the business and is therefore regarded as incredibly precious.
Both Anna and Andrew have begun to use factories to manufacture their products. When using a factory the most affordable are more likely to be out of the country. In this case it is imperative to check the trade taxes for each country you are interested in outsourcing to. Columbia and Peru both have free-trade agreements with the United States, but there are several dozen countries out there who do not have these agreements in place. You have to factor in cost of production and shipping to calculate how much your products will sell for on the public market. You also have to consider if your target buyer and your price points match up. You will drown if you produce a product for a target buyer that is out of their price range. Be careful.
Lastly, try to stay up to date with where the industry style is headed by subscribing to magazines like Women’s Wear Daily, or going to trade shows. If you like the designs you see above please feel free to reach out to either Andrew Nowell or Anna Orthwein! Contact information and websites below:
Second Photo of Andrew Nowell Menswear shot by Stephen Tennyson at the Finale Fashion Show
Contact for photographer information
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