All About Showrooms and Sales Reps

Discussion in 'Careers, Education & the Business of Fashion' started by asta, Apr 26, 2004.

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  1. asta

    asta New Member

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    hi!

    just a quick question for anyone that can answer...

    my friend and i were having a conversation about smaller designers and how they go about getting publicity/sales. the topic of showrooms came up and neither of us seemed to know how they really worked.

    so i guess my question is this:


    when smaller designers get into a showroom space, do they only work out of one? a showroom, from what i understand, would act as the sales rep for all coasts and areas... so if one was living in NYC, a designer would not need to get themselves into a showroom in LA/Dallas for sales purposes, right? or if one was in LA, they would not really need a showroom space in NYC [although it would seem much more beneficial to be located in NYC].

    thanks to anyone that can answer! :blush: :flower: :blush:
     
  2. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    many showrooms handle strictly PR-public relations...ie-sending samples out for shoots, getting editors and stylists in to see the collection and generally promoting public awareness of the product...then sales would be handled through the designer directly...other showrooms handle both...there are group showrooms which handle several designers and then there is -in-house...which means that the showroom is owned and operated by the designer...

    the best place to have showrooms is where there are the most magazines and buying offices...generally NY, Paris, Milan...maybe London...International designers generally have two showrooms...one in europe...usually paris or milan and one in NY...LA based designers are usually smaller and can't really afford two showrooms...they meet with editors and buyers at the trade shows which are held in NYC and Las Vegas twice a year...

    hope that clears things up a bit... :flower:
     
  3. asta

    asta New Member

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    thanks so much softgrey! :flower:

    your answer was perfect! and truly helped me out.

    is it beneficial to be in 2 showrooms [bi-coastal] for a smaller designer though? and does a designer pay to be in one? from my understanding, the showrooms are paid through commission on what is sold....

    thanks again!
     
  4. Lena

    Lena etre soi-meme

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    i dont know how showrooms work in USA
    but 'showrooms' are basically for sales in europe.
    very few combine sales & pr in Paris or Milano.

    Press goes out mainly from Press Offices (those never manage sales)

    Best thing is to get a showroom in your base town
    and when you start 'rolling' get another one in another town.
    Showrooms ask for a 12% commission on wholesale price,
    some may also ask for a flat fee when you sign a contract.

    Note that you will need a 'second' samples line to leave with your showroom
    and a 'third' line to leave with your Press Office.
    (sample lines are much expensive to manufacture)

    good luck with your projects :flower:

    ps: i'd suggest to start with a sales showroom and as you start getting through
    to a number of sales points, start working with Press Offices
    *maybe you should stick with one showroom only when starting up,
    both for production reasons (extra sample collection) and for concentration
    and then as you grow, get another showroom.
    Note that some showrooms may have 'branches' both in NY and LA
    I know of some european showrooms that have offices in Paris & Milano
     
  5. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    it's definitely different here lena...very interesting though...how can the younger designers afford to make up multiple sample collections?...it must be very difficult...and then you have to pay for PR and for sales...sounds like a lot... :ninja:
     
  6. asta

    asta New Member

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    thanks lena!

    if i may ask... how does one gauge their wholesale price for higher end items?

    also, more about showrooms... what do you think is best to do for a young designer starting her first line? is it best to get in a showroom... or just go to trade fairs when the clothing being made is more high end? can you give any advice concerning what is necessary to do when first staring out... and what can be bypassed?

    thanks so much! lena and softgrey.. you are both an amazing help! :flower:
     
  7. asta

    asta New Member

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    it's definitely different here lena...very interesting though...how can the younger designers afford to make up multiple sample collections?...it must be very difficult...and then you have to pay for PR and for sales...sounds like a lot... :ninja: [/b][/quote]
    softgrey... so there are showrooms that do both the pr and the sales, then right? i didn't know that multiple samples needed to be made... as they are costly! but i could see how it would be beneficial in terms of lending items out and for press. in your opinion, how does a smaller designer work around these issues?

    also, i am going to a textile show soon, and i was wondering if you had any tips about looking at fabrics, and asking the appropriate questions. i know that i am to ask about surcharges and strike charges... minimum volumes... and shipping times. but are there any other questions that i should be sure to ask and ones that i should avoid?

    thanks again! you ladies are a blessing! :woot:
     
  8. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    depends on the product...if it's contemporary market...ie-tocca, diane von furstenburg, seven jeans, etc...then the coterie is the best trade show...if it's higher, more designer, then you need a showroom...but it can be the loft you live in...for example...As Four...lives and works out of their loft and i believe they handle all press and sales themselves...another option is MAO PR who handle press and sales for a lot of younger, edgier designers...just an example...

    most designers in NY sort of find their own way and what works best for them depending on their market and financial situation...i would say that ideally...if you could afford it...a great PR firm is well worth the money because of all of their contacts...good press tends to generate sales...

    :flower:
     
  9. asta

    asta New Member

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    thank you softgrey.

    in working with a limited budget... it seems that it is best to really analyze the best avenue to spend one's money. and in terms of generating sales and revenue, press is key.

    i am putting together a lookbook at the moment. i really believe that the photographs and the model is key to the presentation. what are the general costs for models and photographers? ho wmuch does a good model make?

    again, thanks for the help!

    my sample maker is really helping me with most of the questions i have... but it seems that the more i ask, the better. i know the anwers... but then i back track on them...

    where i really get lost, is in the manufacturing discussion. how does one go about finding the right company to manufacture their items?
     
  10. Lena

    Lena etre soi-meme

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    from the advice i got in Paris, a PR office is not as important if you dont have more than two selling points, one should better concentrate on sales rep (showroom)
    *trade fairs: I've participated in trade fairs in Paris, its a good experience but you need to secure your trade-fair budget for at least three seasons, since its quite rare for people to place orders right away. they need to see your work again and again before placing orders.. plus if you try tradefair make sure you stick with the same fair for at least three seasons.
    *showrooms: I would advice you to start from there instead from a trade fair.
    Your collection will have more 'exposure' since it will be available for clients to browse for much more days than the three day tradefair. Plus the expense is less.
    *fabric fairs: This is a must for starting up. Ask for minimum production capacity and surcharges, insist on delivery time both for production and for samples and stick with mid or higher-price-range fabrics since those are more likely to work on smaller volumes. When choosing fabrics make sure you check care instructions and minimums on having your own colours/designs.

    my pleasure helping out :heart:
     
  11. asta

    asta New Member

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    thanks again lena!

    in all honesty, since it is my first textile show... i am a little nervous. i know what i need to cover in terms of questions [and thanks for giving me some more great tips]... but since i have yet to experience one, i feel a little uncertain... and anxious.

    for me, i have been taking the designing process one step at a time... i chose not to go to school for fashion, so i am really just getting my feet wet.... and figuring things out as i go.

    what i do know is that trade fairs aren't right for what i am designing... so, thanks for your advice on all the options.

    i also read that fabric manufacturers are willing to make custom colors for designers... in your experience, what is a normal minimum for doing so?

    thanks again! i hope that i am not a bother :innocent: ....
     
  12. Lena

    Lena etre soi-meme

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    not a bother at all pears and i certainly agree.. keep it away from trade fairs for now ;)

    regarding own colours, depends on the supplier, if the fabric is cheap there may be a 1000meters minimum but you may hit even a 50meters minimum if you work with expensive fabrics.
    dont feel nervous for the fabric fair, try to 'take it all in' during the first day, if there are forums browse twice or more, note fabrics and fabric houses you find interesting, take lots and lots of notes, and on second & third day, visit the manufacturer's booths.
    *Dont put orders straight away but only for those special fabrics that completly 'take your breath away' sampling order could be anything from 10-50 meters, for special fabrics a 50 meters order may well take you in production without needing to re-order later.
    *Place final orders on the last day
    *for fabrics that you are not secure/sure if you will use, ask the fabric houses to supply you with type and colourcards by mail in order to co-ordinate your collection
    *make sure you have bussiness cards with the name and details of your start-up company, this is essensial.
    *best way to work, is to stick with one or two fabric houses and order everything from there, this will help you built in a 'trust' and lasting relationship


    feel free to ask all the questions you need, i'm always glad helping out new designers :heart:
     
  13. asta

    asta New Member

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    :heart: :heart: :heart:

    i think i am set then. i made plans to look for what strikes me and then to collect samples along with the vendors' business cards. notebooks are a must! as are my own business cards and invoices [profesionalism, *check!*]

    i don't want to make any decisions right away... because i am drawn to all aethetics and i am most definately a person that could make an unwise, impulse decision. so waiting & absorbing everything is definately great advice and what i will be doing. i really like the idea of working with a smaller set of vendors in order to maintain some level of simplicity!

    one last question, if i may? in your opinion, what is a good shipping time for both production and sample yardage? what is outlandish and unreasonable?

    thanks, as always! :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart:
     
  14. Lena

    Lena etre soi-meme

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    sample meters should be delivered asap, max 3-4 weeks (they always delay new clients and that's only reasonable)

    for production (following your client orders) try to make it again asap, a month should be ok, those are Italy-France-Greece delivery scedules.

    please note that if you give order more than two/three qualities with the same manufacturer they will take you more 'seriously' usually fabric houses take quite lightly new designers (some dont even post type and colourcards any more :cry: )

    *most fabric houses will not allow you to cut tiny bits of fabrics during the fair.
    You can always ask them if permitted , if so, make sure you cut tiny refferences matched with code numbers. Most designers carry with them a big "dossier" that attach all those tiny fabric cuttings with strappers, so maybe you should have with you small scissors , strapper (sp?) and a dossier just for those tiny fabric cuts.
    it will sure give you an 'insider's' profile during the fair. ;)

    :heart:
     
  15. marrimoda

    marrimoda doing it

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    wow Lena and Softgrey -- you two really have a lot of information. I may have to print out this thread for future reference. I have been learning lately of the "marts" in various cities...LA has its own mart/showroom/fashion center, so do san fran, miami, atlanta. Of course that is a large expense for an emerging designer.
     
  16. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    it seems they do business differently in europe than we do in the states...just slightly...i too find it fascinating to hear how things work elsewhere...i understand it's very different in asia...where they have a distibutor...still don't quite get how that works...?... :huh:

    glad if i helped at all marrimoda... :flower:
     
  17. Spacemiu

    Spacemiu New Member

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    I fidn this all very itnresting, thank you. :heart:
     
  18. Twin85

    Twin85 New Member

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    all about Showrooms

    My twin brother and I run our own t-shirt line for men (expanding into other garments). We have been at it for about a year and half and now we are starting to get in respectable boutiques in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Japan. As well, as getting a celebrity following.

    We are sort of looking for advice on taking it to the next level. I know going to a big trade show would be good (Pool, Project, Designers & Agemts), but it is very costly and I dont think we are ready for it yet.

    Our next best option seems to be getting into a showroom. Does anyone have any advice on how to get into a showroom? And what exactly does a showroom do?

    Because it seems that getting out there and hitting the pavement yourself (cold-calling and sending samples) is a very slow and costly process. Is there a better way other then showroom, trade shows or cold-calling to get exposure and your stuff into stores?

    Thanks,

    Parker
     
  19. stilista

    stilista New Member

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    You seem to be doing pretty well, but I can tell you that doing trade shows are not always the best route to take. As you said, they're costly, and some of them are so large that your stand is lost. They tend to put smaller, lesser known designers in the worst positions (giving their regular, big-spending brands the prime areas) and you can watch everyone come through the doors and walk in the opposite direction straight to the big names with the beer fridges! Quite disheartening when you've given over all the money you have to this 3-day event! They are good if you have already a large established client list, but if not I'd avoid.

    Showrooms are a better option, but they don't always want to take on a fresh company either. They want to see a fat book of press cuttings and an already established client list as this proves people like and what what you do.

    Before all else, I would suggest you devise a press campaign and try to get articles in the best newspapers and magazines (if you already have a celebrity following use this as there's nothing better for getting some exposure. Even the so-called coolest magazines love an excuse to name-drop.) Store buyers read magazines just to find new names. I know how invaluable 10 lines & a small pic can be in a good magazine if you want the best stores calling you up to buy)

    Also let stylists know you exist, and send them your Look Books so them to allow them to call in your designs for relevant shoots.

    I would spend your money on creating nice Look Books, sending them out to the buyers of all the stores you want in to. Incorporate this into a beautifully packaged box with a sample, designer info, press-book etc. Wow the store buyers!

    If you're not located in a major fashion city, rent a hotel room or art-gallery space during fashion week where the world's press and buyers can come and view your collections, meet the designers, drink a glass of fizz and go away with all the information they need to place an order or write an article on you.

    Honestly, it's not difficult. If what you have to sell is good, you don't need to spend a fortune or be part of a showroom (quite often, buyers prefer to go straight to the designer - it cuts out agents fees and the agents themselves who most people have an aversion to!)

    Hope this helps in some way and good luck!
     
  20. Twin85

    Twin85 New Member

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    Thanks!

    Thanks so much for the advice!

    We have actually been working with a printer to get lookbooks made this past month and we were going to send press kits to about 50 stores (as a test run) and see what kind of reaction we get.

    Thanks,

    Parker
     

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