Marketing and Branding

How to Start a Clothing Line that sells
560 315 Mary Vallarta

How to start a clothing line that sells

While anybody can start a clothing line, not everyone can build a profitable fashion business. It takes entrepreneurial spirit to have consistent revenue and profit. How can someone create a successful clothing line? Fashion entrepreneurs need to work hard, understand market trends, and be flexible. Sales data and customer feedback will help you determine price, design, distribution, and everything else you need to be successful.

Before going through each step of creating a successful clothing line, it’s important to adopt a sales mindset. One of the biggest mistakes that new fashion business owners make is to get stuck on the idea of creating and protecting their brand. Instead, they should be focused on creating a profitable business. While having a flawless social media presence is important, for example, it more important to concentrate on the bottom line. I’m here to show you how!

My name is Mary Vallarta and I’m behind FAB Counsel, a consultancy with the sole purpose of empowering entrepreneurs to build successful fashion companies. I have almost a decade of retail experience after buying for Macy’s, BCBG, Metropark, and Bebe. Wanting more creative freedom, I co-founded FAB Counsel with my business partner to help independent designers take their concept to market. My partner, too, has extensive experience under his sleeve, having owned and run a menswear boutique and managed contemporary brands. Starting with just $150, we turned FAB Counsel into a 6-figure business.

I am not sharing this with you to brag, but to make it clear that what you are reading comes from professionals with experience in the field.  Our experience is a mix of corporate professionalism and small business industriousness. In this guide, you will get the benefit of both large and small business wisdom.

So, let’s get to those steps: here’s how to start a clothing line that sells!

1. Start small and test, test, test

Research and data are essential to starting a new business. Research can help show trends in the market that business owners should be listening too. Many new businesses have no data on whether or not their fashion merchandise will sell. The best way to minimize risk is to test the market and understand your consumers. Here’s how to do that.

Identify the market void your product serves

Ask yourself if your product line fills a void in the market. Does the market need another shoe or jewelry brand? The answer would be NO. However, the market may have space for an affordable line of sustainably-made casual basics for petite women. By examining the market and getting granular, we have an opportunity to identify both a need and a target market.

Be precise about your target customer

Once you have narrowed down the market, you can begin to understand your target customer. Knowing your target customer will help you determine design, price, marketing strategy, and distribution. In the example above, we saw that petite women who care about sustainably-sourced material would be our customer. Now that we have our customer segment, we need to understand their demographic.  What is her age, income level, profession, and likely geographic location? The answers to these questions will already start filling the gaps in your marketing strategy.

Figure out how you will distribute your line

The Internet is the most popular method that many startup fashion brands use to reach their customers – and for good method. It is more convenient and inexpensive to market directly to your shoppers than to find intermediate buyers without a track record of sales. Whatever method you use, remember to pick a plan that will be the easiest for your customers to find you while fitting your budget.

Next, comes production

Start small with a starter collection. An extensive collection will be a challenge when it comes to managing inventory and marketing styles, especially when you do not have any hard data on what will sell. Make your starter collection streamlined and cost-effective. It is better to have five amazing pieces rather than 25 that are so-so. Then, when it comes down to ordering units per style, order the minimum, so you do not get stuck with extra inventory. Being sold out is a better problem than surplus stock. Plus, once you see which styles will sell, you can order more and start to get a handle on movement.

Start marketing your line

Marketing is key to getting the word out about your fashion line to your target customers. Without any promotion, how will consumers know you exist? Knowing and understanding your target customer will help you to identify which promotional channels to use. Even better, get potential customers involved in the development of your line and ask them about their shopping habits along the way.

Get out there

The mantra in entrepreneurship is, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” While this is less applicable to fashion lines than software, there’s a valuable lesson there for fashion entrepreneurs as well. Do not let perfectionism get in the way of putting your merchandise in front of potential customers. Whether it is hitting ‘publish’ on your website, setting up shop at a farmer’s market, or launching Instagram ads, taking the jump is the first step towards understanding your market and improving your sales numbers.

Analyze the data

Now it is time to look at the data and understand who bought how much of which styles. Most likely, you will be surprised by who bought what and have your assumptions challenged. Take Timberland. They thought their target market was blue-collared men who worked labor-intensive jobs in construction and home improvement. It turned out it was the hip-hop community that embraced them. While it is important to outline a target market, it is also equally important to go with the flow when you find out you were off. Analyze the data, listen to the market, and be flexible.

2. Use the data to improve your line

Combine your sales data with customer feedback to make improvements to your line and move the company forward. If one product is not selling, change or remove it. If another is going gangbusters, order more units and make additional styles. Analyzing and understanding data will be crucial to continued revenue and growth.

3. It is time for some critical decisions

After running tests and seeing the data, you need to ask yourself if your company has a place in the market. Is your business still not selling even though you have listened to the market and made changes, whether it was to your merchandise, marketing, distribution, or operations? If so, it may be either that there isn’t demand for your product in the market or that it is not differentiated enough from the competition. If on the other hand you see growth and profit, then you just might have a concept with wings!

4. Scale up your business

Now that you have decided that your concept works, your new focus is to make sure that it grows! Growth can mean many different things: investing in branding and marketing, hiring employees, or diversifying your product line, or all of the above. Whatever you decide, identify quarterly goals and focus on incremental growth. Always concentrate on the bottom line and make sure your growth decisions make sense for you and your budget.

After reading these steps, you have a better understanding of why starting small is more beneficial than starting big. Small tests give you the flexibility to stay nimble and reduce risk when market forces push you in new directions. Now, you may be thinking, ‘What do I do now?’ Now is the time to take action and use this information to start your fashion empire.

540 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

Join Us At The LA Business Journal Fashion Awards

Celebrate standout local fashion companies and make new connections at LABJ’s 2016 Fashion Awards.

Indie Source is excited to attend the second annual Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2016 Fashion Awards! This event recognizes outstanding companies and individuals driving growth in the local fashion industry and the LA business community. It will take place on Tuesday, December 6, location TBD.

friends-champagne-for-webWith 300-1,500 attendees, the program will include apparel, denim, activewear, couture, swimwear, accessories, retail, and e-commerce companies based in Southern California. It’s an excellent opportunity for designers and others in the fashion industry to grow their brands and make valuable new connections.

Apparel companies making a powerful impact in the LA fashion industry can be nominated for awards in several categories. Indie Source is aiming for nominations in the categories of Made In California, Professional Service Provider, and Supplier Of The Year. If you’d like to recognize Indie Source for the difference we make in the apparel industry and driving business in Southern California, you may nominate us here.

Come and celebrate LA Fashion with us!

 

 

540 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

Starting A Successful Made In USA Clothing Brand

Jim Snediker shares his take on how to start a successful clothing brand that’s made in the USA. The secret? Have something new to say, backed up with strong business basics.

A renaissance around Made In USA apparel is inspiring many designers to start businesses centered on domestically-manufactured clothing. But a Made in USA label alone won’t generate enough sales to achieve retail success. Hard work and expertise in branding, design, development, marketing, and manufacturing combined with offering your customer something new and unexpected in an enticing way … all this, plus a little bit of luck, are all keys to starting a successful Made In USA clothing brand.

Jim Snediker, owner of Chicago-based Stock Mfg. Co., distills his hard-won knowledge and experience about what it takes to succeed as a Made In USA brand in a post on the Maker’s Row blog.


“Why should people support domestic manufacturing?” Nearly every interview I take part in features that question, or some semblance of it. My answer to that is, you shouldn’t expect them to. If you aren’t saying something new or doing something unique, you need to re-examine your plan.

Building a Brand from the Ground Up

Starting A Successful Made In USA Clothing Brand - Indie Source

Indie Source – Los Angeles

I figure I should probably back up at this point and give you some background. I make clothing in Chicago. Well, I don’t personally, but the company I own does. My company, Stock Mfg. Co., is a men’s lifestyle brand that designs, develops, and manufactures every item of clothing we sell in America, the vast majority right here in our Chicago factory. Our factory is over 40 years old, and was started by the parents of one of my co-founders. Our founding team’s backgrounds consist of design, sourcing, development, retail buying, sales, marketing, and of course, manufacturing.

I’m not just a fan of the Made in America renaissance going on right now, I’m a very active participant and advocate, and one who has spent a large portion of his life over the last 2.5 years inside an actual factory. I’ve seen firsthand what it takes to start and build a clothing brand from the ground up. I’ve stayed overnight QC’ing shirts for an on-deadline shipment. I’ve dealt with die sets breaking snaps, fabric showing up damaged, buttons getting lost, and operators calling in sick for a week in the middle of a rush order (they’re all rush orders). I know the thrill of having a huge day of sales, and the crushing disappointment of just one customer having a bad experience.

Working out of a factory has also given me an upfront view of how many people get into this industry with absolutely no clue what it’s going to take to build a brand that is even remotely successful. Blaming ignorance isn’t entirely fair…we had absolutely no clue how hard it would be either. However, we started Stock with a clear reason of what differentiated us, why people would be interested in buying our stuff, and how we would go about selling. This is a step that I see a lot of aspiring makers skip.

Of course, things have changed and we’ve evolved over these two years, but the core mission of the brand has remained the same. We offer premium men’s clothing that is entirely made in the USA, and by bypassing traditional middlemen we offer it at a price point that is competitive with brands like J. Crew and Bonobos. We recognized that vertically integrating with a factory was a huge asset to us from both the branding and business sides of things, and we put a strategy in place to build a leading menswear brand on top of the history and heritage of our factory. For us, Made in USA was a differentiator, but not the sole defining characteristic of our brand. We knew there had to be more to our story than “We’re Made in America” if we wanted to build a brand that mattered.

What I’ve seen more of, even more than people wilting under the pressure of actually executing on the day-to-day grind of starting and building a brand, is people that think just because they’ve decided to start a clothing brand and slap a “Made in USA” label on there that they’re going to start selling hand over fist. The fact is, there’s a million “makers” out there doing the same thing as you, and most consumers are more inclined to shop at a fast fashion store, or spend big on a name brand. If your plan is to sell $195 oxford shirts, $150 leather wallets, or $90 polos with a bear embroidered on them because everyone on your lacrosse team called you Grizzly, you better be well connected, well funded, and really damn good. Or really lucky. Don’t underestimate luck.

The fact is, its very, very difficult to start a business, any kind of business, that even sniffs success. It’s a lot harder to start a clothing brand that isn’t really saying or showing anything new. Just doing what other people are already doing and hoping that’s going to be enough rarely ever is.

Starting A Successful Made In USA Clothing Brand - Indie Source

Indie Source – Los Angeles

 

What it Takes to Successfully Compete

That’s not to say in order to be successful you need to have disruptive price points, or a Stanford Business School Grad running the show. Brands like Rag & Bone, Engineered Garments, Todd Snyder and Junya Watanabe have gotten big based off a combination of killer design, hard work and great connections. It’s possible to just start a clothing brand, be really good, work hard and be successful. Just be aware, you need to be REALLY good, work REALLY hard, and that your odds of succeeding are MUCH better if you were previously a designer at a big fashion brand, or have a bunch of friends at GQ. But, even with all those variables in place, the odds of success are extremely tiny, and there are very few people in the world that have a meaningful combination of all those advantages.

Potential designers and makers shouldn’t be discouraged from following their dreams. The point I’m trying to make is that if you want to make a living off your brand, you can’t simply be. Don’t just learn how to sew a wallet, write a business plan too. After browsing Hypebeast, spend some time reading Fast Company. If you want to make things in America, that’s fantastic, but remember; you’ll be selling to, and competing against, other Americans. America is a country born of innovation and capitalism, and at no point in American history has someone truly succeeded by just doing what everyone else was already doing.

Read Jim Snediker’s full post on the Maker’s Row blog.

655 396 Jesse Dombrowiak

Rags To Riches: Iconic American Designer Ralph Lauren

A “sense of dream” and vision of success propelled Ralph Lauren from humble beginnings in the Bronx to the very top of global fashion.

The name Ralph Lauren conjures images of classic American luxury. But the esteemed fashion entrepreneur came from humble beginnings. Lauren’s journey to success is marked by a powerful combination of hard work, vision, and passion.

Born in the Bronx in 1939, Lauren was raised in a working-class family, the son of Jewish immigrants from Belarus. He found escape in the fantasy world of movies; the Daily Mail quotes a 1993 televised interview with Lauren: “I was very influenced by movies, I was very influenced by a world that had a sense of dream.”

Motivated in the business of fashion early on, Lauren was known for selling ties to his classmates at Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy. He dropped out of college after two years and served in the U.S. Army from 1962-1964. Lauren then married Ricky Loew-Beer and moved to New York City to pursue his dream of success in the fashion business.

He worked briefly at Brooks Brothers, then became a salesman for tie manufacturer A. Rivetz & Co. Lauren. He proposed a design for a wide, European-style necktie, but the company didn’t think it would sell. So Lauren started his own business making ties out of fabric remnants and selling them to small shops. His independence and resourcefulness in moving forward with his tie design were key to his entrepreneurial success.

A 1,200-count order from Neiman Marcus marked Lauren’s first big break. His Polo label grew in success and eventually he secured a boutique at Bloomingdale’s flagship store on 59th St. in New York. Lauren opened the Polo boutique on Rodeo Drive in 1971. What would soon become the famous Polo logo short sleeve pique shirt was released in 1972, along with his first Ralph Lauren collection for women.

Today, the Ralph Lauren Corporation designs and markets apparel and accessories, home furnishings, and fragrances under brands such as Polo by Ralph Lauren, Chaps, RRL, Club Monaco, and RLX Ralph Lauren. According to Vault, the company operates over 460 retail stores worldwide and its collections are available at nearly 13,000 retail locations, with 2015 revenue at over $7.62 billion.

Still married to Ricky, and the father of three children, Ralph Lauren is one of the wealthiest men in American fashion. His net worth is $5.7 billion according to Forbes. He has a well-known collection of over 70 rare and vintage automobiles. Through the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation, Lauren contributes significantly to the fight against breast cancer by funding charitable initiatives around the world.

Lauren’s enchantment with the dream-world of movies and self-fueled pursuit of success has evolved into a multi-billion dollar empire and an iconic style forever linked to the name of a working class boy from the Bronx. Here at Indie Source, we are passionate about helping emerging designers, like Ralph Lauren once was, to pursue their dreams and achieve powerful success.

Jesse Dombrowiak

USA Made-Rebecca Minkoff’s #SeeBuyWear

The Chicago Tribune reports on designer Rebecca Minkoff’s new strategy at New York Fashion Week. Consumers were able to buy items from her new collection right after the show, eliminating the usual six month delay between showing a line and having clothing available in stores. How did Minkoff pull it off? By manufacturing her new items domestically in the U.S.

At New York Fashion Week this year, Rebecca Minkoff did things a little differently.

The fashion designer and entrepreneur unveiled her restyled collection for Spring and Summer last week. As part of her new strategy (which Minkoff has described on social media using #SeeBuyWear), consumers were able to shop her collection immediately after the show.

Since Minkoff announced the shift in December of last year, major brands like Burberry, Tom Ford, and Tommy Hilfiger have said that they, too, would be peddling their clothes in real time.

Typically, designers show off their latest designs as much as six months before the collection hits retail stores, allowing fast-fashion brands to imitate the looks in the meantime and steal away potential sales. What’s more, consumers have a tendency to grow tired of the new designs, which are no longer “new” by the time they’re available to shop.

While Minkoff’s show featured some already-shown items, including a billowing blue maxi dress, called the Jane, 17 new capsule pieces were introduced in the collection. All the new pieces were manufactured at domestic factories, rather than overseas, in order to hit the runway in time.

“What we started noticing was this sense of consumer fatigue,” said the brand’s CEO, Uri Minkoff, of the decision to feature a spring label. “The idea became: How do you sell great, full-price retail? How do we reset the system?”

Of course, he admits that shifting the retail timeline has involved many challenges. For one thing, the company had to manufacture the new items in the U.S. at factories in Los Angeles and New York City, as opposed to abroad.

The supply chain shift ended up being a boon for the brand.

“Now we have this more diverse supply chain to be able to react to what’s happening, and as opposed to what’s been happening six months ago,” said Minkoff.

In December and January, for instance, the company kept up with fashion-related searches on Instagram, and even rolled out indoor jackets — the Rebecca and Fellini jackets — when East Coast temperatures dropped substantially last month. Minkoff added that the company was able to incorporate trending pant shapes and colors.

When asked if there was anything else about Fashion Week that needed disruption, head designer Rebecca Minkoff was clear: “I think I’ve taken on enough this year.”

Originally posted by Zöe Henry on ChicagoTribune.com.

Jesse Dombrowiak

Allison Andrews’ approach towards Fashion Week

In its eighth season, FWSD 2014 is  on the rise of establishing the coastal-beachside city of San Diego as a viable platform for fashion designers & industry  professionals from all over the world. The city of San Diego is becoming an ideal fashion destination for industry professionals to  showcase their latest collections with the support of visionary Allison Andrews, Founder & Director of FWSD. And, despite San Diego’s laid back fashion culture of beachwear attire with staple pieces of  tank tops and flip flops, Andrews exemplifies how San Diego embraces an immense appreciation for  high fashion couture, capturing the very pulse of San Diego with all its creativity and style. FWSD  is vastly becoming a place that encompasses everything in fashion—–because just like how art is subject to personal interpretation, so is fashion and Andrews feels it is important to see the uniqueness of each designer.  It is through her commitment and dedication that she is at the forefront of rallying community involvement, and vastly establishing the runways of San Diego to be a canvas for fashion designer to display their artistic creations,  while simultaneously providing consumers access to the latest trends and styles.

San Diego  is progressively becoming one of the major fashion capitals within the US—housing so much talent from their local designers while welcoming international talent from abroad.  It makes sense, since San Diego is already a major travel destination in the US and to merge San Diego’s tourism with fashion is an ideal location for designers to springboard their careers and get noticed and be seen.

FWSD is not trying to be anything else, but FWSD,” shares Andrews. “We were created to give a reputable and quality place for designers from everywhere in the world to show their collection to the general consumer, and [those in] the industry that can help them launch their career. This is what we do and what we stand for.” This is one of the major differences of FWSD, and its approach, because not only is it a showcasing to preview the latest trend-setting styles down the runway, FWSD  is evolving into a platform to help grow the fashion designers artistic creativity into a successful and lucrative business in the marketplace.  With FWSD, Andrews incorporates and offers business workshops along with personalized trunk shows to help promote brand recognition and provide designers that maximum exposure needed for their brand, leading up to the actual festivities of FWSD’s catwalk., which is usually held the first week of October.

Even fashion designer, Wilhelmina from Star Fashion House, who has been in the industry for over thirty years had the opportunity to participate in a personalized fashion luncheon and trunk show at La Jolla’s charmingly prestigious La Valencia Hotel.— reminiscent of a time when women would engage in having high tea and models would twirl about wearing the latest fashion and trends.  This was an ideal location for Wilhelmina to have women preview her latest collection prior to showcasing on the runways of FWSD.  And, since her clothing boutique is located within La Jolla, where she caters to the sophisticated high-society woman housing upscale ready-wear clothing with an emphasis of couture cocktail evening gowns and bridal fashions—having a private showing of her collection at La Valencia Hotel  was definitely the right venue for her.

Wilhelmina FWSD

And, as Andrews continues to break ground embracing all facets of fashion, it is no surprise that this year’s FWSD winner for “San Diego’s Top Designer of 2014”—-was awarded to A’doreus- a high fashion couture clothing line for the plus-size woman.  Sharlene Borromeo, creator and fashion designer of A’doreus,  has passionately dedicated her career in establishing more of a fashion selection and providing clothing options for the plus-size women. She designs contemporary and timeless pieces for the full-figured silhouette of a woman, and though she has been challenged with some of the negative comments regarding the difficulty with pre-conceived notions of taking plus-size women’s clothing and evolving it into mainstream high fashion, she has always stayed the course and now has achieved the recognition as “FWSD’s Top Designer of 2014.”

A'doreus FWSD 

As  Borromeo glances at her sketches, she fondly reflects on her overall experiences and all that she acquired and gained by participating in FWSD.  “FWSD and Allison hold the designers accountable, and it has taught me how to work through my weaknesses and capitalize on my strengths….I highly [recommend] any emerging designer  to participate in [FWSD].”  Borromeo  enthusiastically commented.   “There is no better way to learn how to work through the struggles than to just jump in and do it. But, the key element is to return a second year, so that you can quantitatively measure your progress, gain the momentum to continue, and dream bigger.”

“I am most proud of myself, because throughout this entire journey I was transparent and stuck to my vision.”

 

To learn more about FWSD, you could log onto:  http://fashionweeksd.com/ and to inquire on how to become one of the participating designers for the upcoming FWSD 2015, you could contact Indie Source’s PR/Marketing Dept at (858) 472-6204 and ask for Joyce

 To check out Wilhelmina and Star Fashion House and the latest with her evening cocktail and bridal wear, especially as we are fast approaching the holidays, log onto starfashio2.wix.com/boutique


To check out more about high-fashion couture plus-size fashions with Sharlene Borromeo and A’doreus, you could log onto http://adoreusfashion.com/

 

Wilhelmina FWSD '14

Jesse Dombrowiak

Raw Artists Showcasing in LA: i.CTZN

Hollywood’s Walk of Fame was definitely lined up with rising stars, as the spotlight was set on all the emerging artists at LA’s RAW Showcase held earlier this spring on Sunday April 13th at the stylishly plush nightclub, OHM. RAW Artists came out and walked the red carpet, displaying their one-of-a-kind pieces from—photography, artwork, costume and design, & we cannot & must not forget the fashion. Indie Source is all about the fashion, supporting designers with their vision as it comes to life on the runway for these aspiring independent designers. And, as supporters of i.ctzn and RAW Artists, Indie Source was there to take it all in to check out all the indie artists.

However, this past Hollywood showcasing was merely one of the several RAW Artist platforms that RAW hosts throughout the year in cities throughout the United States and internationally to provide these independently talented artists a venue to display and showcase their art. RAW Artists embraces all genres of artistic expression with the intention to promote these artists, and provide them avenues to network and build on their professional career as artists. RAW Artists events are truly a coming together of all kinds of creative talent housed under one roof for an evening of sheer artistry. You will definitely experience a unique mix of talent once you’ve attended a RAW Artist showcase.

The venues are fun, upbeat, and fiercely eclectic, lining up musical acts that can include a female punk band accompanied by electrifying sounds of guitars; to performance art utilizing visual imagery of laser lights; or a full-on theatrical stage performance of costume design and make-up gruesomely displayed on the stage, making attendees feel as if you were watching a scene straight out from a horror flick. Not to mention the presentation and displays of artwork presented with interwoven barbwire fences utilized as backdrops, creating that edgy underground feeling. And, for Indie RAW Artist, it’s all about creatively presenting their own individual message of expression of how they want to be heard and seen. Just as one of the exhibitors, Los Angeles-based jewelry designer, Toni Kohn, displayed her gorgeous pieces of accented gold cuff accessories to beautifully designed custom cocktail rings that any female owning her collection of jewelry would be the envy.

And, as i.CTZN strutted their latest Fall 2014 collection that displayed a sharp sophistication of their military-style statement pieces with an edgy contemporary interpretation of style, i.CTZN was honored as a RAW Artist for the evening and closed the fashion show. “It is great to be recognized as a RAW artist and to be [selected] to show our unique fashion line,” Gao and Krusemark shared. “We [received] wonderful feedback at the show and enjoyed the other artists…creativity….It was a great experience to [have the opportunity to] debut our FALL 2014 collection to the Hollywood area.”

 To become part of a RAW Artist event is an extremely unforgettable visually stimulating experience. “RAW’s mission is to provide up-and-coming artists of all creative realms with tools, resources, and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity, so that they might be seen, heard, and loved RAW educates connects and exposes emerging artists in over 60 artistic communities across the United States, Australia, Canada, and the U.K. through monthly showcase events. [RAW Artists] wants you to join them in celebrating the work of these artists.”

 To learn more about RAW Artists, log onto www.rawartists.org, and follow i.CTZN and check out their next fashion show and to view their latest collection, log onto www.iCTZN.com

Raw Artist: i.CTZN

Jesse Dombrowiak

J.Toor’s: A Classic Tailor-fit For Modern Conscious Male

With modern technology streamlining simple apparel design in the men’s fashion industry and constantly mass-producing garments at increasingly high volumes, it’s impossible not to grow nostalgic for unique and authentic styles. Luxury bespoke design house J. Toor, has made a name for its menswear brand by mastering this challenging creative balance. Looking at their signature intricate, meticulously tailored, and overall thoughtfully made bespoke suits; it’s clear that J. Toor’s classic aesthetic and modern conscious that will be reshaping the lifestyle and wardrobes of all true Modern Gentlemen.

J Toor

After graduating from college, J. Toor founders Jivesh Toor, Diana McCarty, and Jamie Pate established and founded their Chicago-based design house, which quickly became a vehicle to bring back the quintessential English style of menswear. Attuned to modern styling and employing their vast knowledge of menswear, the trio produced looks for men that are classically refined but far from being staid and outdated. Their suits are a refreshing mix, marrying the old and new by combining the best heritage fabrics with updated cuts adding pops of color. With their show-stopping fashions, they have successfully reinstated the high quality standards of crafting any garment for the modern day gentleman. Their design studio houses suits that are unforgettable pieces of wearable art, creating an experience not only for the stylish client, but for all fashion admireres, who can appreciate attention to the finest of detail.

 

Like the physical garments itself, the J.Toor individualized and personable experience is memorable for all clientele, unlike the many impersonal shopping experiences that are too frequent in today’s world. J. Toor invites the fashionably elite to private appointments at their exclusive speakeasy style Gold Coast suite, where upon arrival, they partake in a conversation on their own fashion style and clothing needs with a J. Toor designer over a glass of scotch.

 

Jtoor MenswearThe uniqueness of J. Toor’s custom design process is that completed suits speak not only to the J. Toor aesthetic, but are also direct reflections of the wearers themselves.  Clients are treated to an abundance of lavish suiting options within J. Toor’s luxury English style, choosing from an abundance of fabric patterns and weights from the top European suiting mills such as Holland & Sherry, Loro Piana, Zenga, Cerruti, Scabal, Drago, and more. However, the client’s choices don’t stop at just the outside fabric of the suit. J. Toor stands by their dedication to quality and their beliefs the inside of any garment should be just as impeccable as the outside. So, client’s can also choose to add splashes of color in the jacket lining, aside from it’s already completely canvassed horsehair-lined interior. To J.Toor, not one detail is too small. They let their clientele choose the parts of theirsuit down to its under collar, button holes, jacket lining, and hand stitching.

Every part of a J. Toor suit is collaboration between the client and the designer,making the design house a leader in extremely customizable men’s suiting and accessories. Jivesh Toor, sites this as one of the brand’s most competitive advantages. “What sets us apart from the rest is the immense design factor that we include in our services. There is simply no other clothier that offers such an in-depth level of design customization at our prices,” says Toor.

 

Redefining luxury standards, giving the consumer more stylish options, and putting the personal connection back into men’s fashion, J. Toor is a leader in the new era of dapper bespoke menswear. With an array of upscale styles fit for all seasons and a plethora of detail and accent options, J. Toor helps clothe men in standout pieces for all functions. From the Chicago businessmen conducting meetings in the middle of winter, to the groom wed on the Chicago River of a Midwestern summer wedding, J. Toor’s suiting are tailor made for any fashionable affair. Reflecting the individual’s own fashion sense and personality, J. Toor’s bespoke suits are a perfect fit for the sartorial modern gentleman.

 

Jesse Dombrowiak

Onzie Yoga Apparel; Q&A w/ Founder Kimberly Swarth

More than two decades ago, Yoga became a lifestyle practice for Kimberly Swarth and with it, the driving force of her business. Swarth has another milestone coming for her next year; she is coming into motherhood. Now that the Onzie brand, pronounced OWN-zee, has been well loved within the culture of fitness and training, she takes most of her work / life balance along with her vision, in the most wonderful humor. “My brand will pierce the heavens” could easily be her mantra—and until today, her thriving L.A business has been her baby. Swarth shares her wit and wisdom with Indie Source in an exclusive interview.

Q: Are you just the woman behind the Onzie brand, or are you part of an out-front effort to manufacture a holistic line of active wear?

A: We have really created this business as a team here. In terms of creating the brand, I feel that the people who are here with us have created it—this brand is not even really me anymore. We have created a workplace culture, a powerful all female crew with an entity of its own.

Q: How did your team come into being?

A: Each person here came to us in a different way, there was not a usual hiring process, everyone is so unique and brings a piece to the puzzle—each one an individual in our community that has built us into the company we are today.

Q: Who is the woman behind the Onzie brand? How would you describe her? Who is she and how does your brand pay tribute to her?

A: On our Instagram there are hundreds of photographs of this woman—this woman that is dedicated to the practice, very dedicated to her workout and she is proud of her own health. The Onzie woman is all of these things; she is like a goddess. Our site shows her in so many forms, she is healthy and she is glowing in all of her beauty. With our product, we aspire to match that goddess concept—in both femininity and strength.

 

Q: Beauty in strength is also a hard-fought win. The Onzie woman has worked hard to evolve and to strengthen her form through meditation and stamina. In what ways has your business done the same?

A: In our organization, my mother, has been doing Bikram Yoga for now, 25-years. It all started with her. Bikram Yoga is done in a heated room of about 100 degrees. Back in the 90s, you worked out in a leotard. You sweat so much that you had to wear a one-piece garment and we started playing around with a mix of different colors for that initial piece—sort of like a onesie—a classic piece for practicing yoga was at the center of our design. We made a word play off of it and pronounced it OWN-zee, and all we were making was a leotard at the time—we liked how the word looked, and then it took off.

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Q: So, you set out to put an end to the plain black yoga wear?

A: Yeah, I guess we did. Four-years ago people were not doing color like this. There were no prints for yoga. It was subdued an pastel, calming and quiet. The Kundalini woman was soft, draped in white fabric. She was not letting her higher-self shine through. Today there are many other expressions of exercise and we wanted our line to really let the practice match the experience and all of that color brings.

 

 

 

Q: So, is it safe to assume that you all practice yoga. How have you utilized the principles of yoga practice in your own business?

A: Yes. We do. My staff here, they are all dedicated to their own workouts. The health and wellbeing of our minds is something we practice in our business as well. Our roots are in Bikram Yoga and hot yoga. Dedication, endurance, and determination are huge in our business. At its core—what makes it work— we are sometimes too dedicated—but we have really worked as a team to achieve our goals together and stay strong. We have a Rock star authenticity, All of us here, we are all determined to get that high that comes with doing something really well, and that helps us all to be focused.

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Q: How do you decide what to manufacture in your line? Who makes the decisions as to the growth and the look of your brand?

A: The Bikram Yogi was always a bit flashier, a bit more whimsy; we want that to be live in our brand. What’s the most important to us is that we are making a killer fabrication—the product is key—there are so many different products out there, we have stayed really true to our core— and for the price-point that is required for accessibility of our clothes. All of our decisions are made around that truth.

 

Q: You have celebrity interest in your designs—in the funky prints and ‘mod’ designs.  Even Lady Gaga wears Onzie. How did she find out about your clothing and come to take a selfie wearing one of your prints?

A: It is all, organic—it is through the yoga. She is actually an avid Bikram yogi and one of her teachers is connected to the brand and bought our stuff, and literally just rocked it in class. It was not just a PR thing. We don’t do anything like that. The clothing speaks for itself—it’s where a little bit of karma gets you, and a good product.

 

Q: Offer a bit of advice to aspiring designers here. What are the four things you can suggest to make a line a success?

A: I would say that they should have spirit; they need to know their customer well, and live the lifestyle to match their end user—and have some fun. It is also important to make your line accessible to people and an affordable part of their lives—make that a priority in your business and everything else around your commitment to your work will come natural.

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At Onzie, our philosophy is “keep your practice challenging, and your wardrobe simple!”

Indie Source makes premium apparel for clothing brands, then ensures those products make a big impact in the market. Learn more about how they support fashion brands with garment development, apparel manufacturing,  fashion sales and marketing at www.IndieSource.com  

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150 150 Jesse Dombrowiak

How to Create the Perfect LookBook

Likened to an artists portfolio LookBooks not only showcase brands collections but aid in their overall success. Distributed to buyers, consumers and even press they are the quintessential way to reach each individual audience and make a lasting impression. As a result of the successfulness they have yielded for many fashion brands through the years LookBooks have become a necessity. Thousands are distributed daily, passing through the hands of prominent figures in fashion leaving many brands wondering not if they should make LookBook – thats a given- but instead how to create the perfect LookBook, a LookBook that will get your brand noticed and for all the right reasons.

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When setting out to create the perfect LookBook aesthetics and originality must be of foremost importance. The goal for every brand should be to have a LookBook that grabs attention and calls out in a pile of its contenders not simply, “Pick me, pick me” but instead ” Hello there. I’m exactly what you’re looking for.” In order to stand out in the crowd a LookBook must contain a presentation that is aesthetically pleasing and a glimpse into what makes your brand and or collection unique and innovative. We have provided several key steps to follow in order create the perfect LookBook and proliferate a brands success.

 

THE BLUEPRINT STAGE

Before creating a LookBook in physical form it is vital to map out a blueprint. LookBooks come in various formats therefore choosing a template that best suits the brand is the first step. Some formats include: the most popular format, a book of styled looks, the increasingly favored digital LookBook, a simplistic catalog or the artistic route of a compilation editorial accompanied by an attention-grabbing story line. Once the format is chosen these essential questions must be brought to the fore: Which pieces and or collection will be featured? What is the brands target market? and What story should the LookBook relate?

 

INTRODUCTION

Once the blueprint is completed it is time to start the building process. Most brands have a “mission” or what some like to call their brands “philosophy”. Start with a brief introduction at the opening containing that philosophy. This introduction while concise may also contain: the brands history, information on the designer(s) and the inspiration(s) behind the collection at hand. This mini-autobiography of sorts is an imperative step, setting the tone for how the audience perceives what they are preparing to view.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY & STYLING

Arguably the most important part of a LookBook is the photography. Many are introduced to brands for the first time through their LookBooks so without a doubt it should obtain a positive and lasting first impression. Discernment is needed when choosing a photographer. High quality, artistic photographs that compliment the brand are extremely necessary. If using one, picking a model should be a selective process. They must not only embody the brand but do justice to the collection. Styling and placement of the pieces are comparably as crucial as the photography itself. It should not only be attention drawing but flow with the context of the story and vision created in the blueprint stage. Styling of each piece should show their functionality along with various angles, giving the viewer a broader look at the pieces.

 

PRODUCT & COLLECTION INFORMATION

Product knowledge is important to display especially for potential buyers and consumers viewing LookBooks. Just as with the showcase of angle assortments of the collection information such as varied fits, colors, fabrics and style names or numbers for future reference should be displayed. Similar to the brands introduction at the beginning of the LookBook, product information should be brief yet informative. Since they are not initially able to see the pieces in person the LookBook should give the viewer descriptions vivid and detailed enough that the physical void is somewhat filled while not leaving them overwhelmed with insignificant information.

 

AESTHETICS & ORIGINALITY

As stated above, creating the perfect LookBook and gaining attention for a brand is based largely on the books presentation and distinctiveness. When it comes to aesthetics minimalism and a cohesive flow are a solid foundation for not only standing out in the crowd but gaining respect as a legitimate brand. The only way to remain original is by executing this undertaking in a contrastive way then the rest. Fortunately it is feasible to do so while still adhering to the basics. This can be accomplished by adding information such as: sketches, fabric swatches and even a glance into the design and production process of the featured collection. Along with the content the disposition of the book such as the paper and text used while they may seem somewhat insignificant are very consequential to its success.

 

BRAND INFORMATION

Ultimately, displaying brand information is an important step in keeping in contact with buyers and consumers. Brand information should include: websites, phone and fax numbers, the address of headquarters, an email address and any social networks such as Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Once the blueprint is drafted, the vision set into motion and accomplished you have created the perfect lookbook.

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