In the run up to London Fashion Week, AAT is encouraging budding fashion designers to ensure they have the right business skills to succeed. In an industry dominated by small businesses, where 80% of companies have ten employees or less, it is essential that creativity is balanced with good financial awareness.
Thousands of students graduate each year from university and college courses hoping to make it big in the fashion industry. In an industry worth £40bn; the rewards are high. But, very few succeed. New labels tend to make a loss for years. Even Stella McCartney, with her many celebrity fans, still took five years to turn a profit.
London is well-established as a centre for creativity – however, the industry often loses designers to Paris or Milan because it is difficult to support new talent here. Micro and small businesses often garner significant media attention but their growth is impeded by a lack of financial investment. It can be hard to raise capital because investors wish to see a quick return; however, in fashion this takes a long time. Lack of business skills are often cited as the reason why many small designers fail. Not only do they need innate creative ability – but they need to be able to translate it into a sustainable business.
AAT, the leading professional body for accounting staff is encouraging budding fashion designers to ensure they have the right business skills to succeed. Commenting Tom Kelman, AAT Director of Finance and Corporate Resources said: “New designers need to think of themselves as a small business – and not just as a creative talent. Whilst it is talent that brings them public recognition, without good financial management, how can they expect to succeed?
It is a shame to lose these great creative talents due to a lack of business skills – especially when they’re so easy to learn. There are a variety of resources out there, which don’t have to be costly. They should be the first port of call for anyone who wishes to start a fashion career.”
Tips for success:
Be multi-skilled. Need creativity, design, and flair – but also need to understand finance
If you don’t have good business sense – team up with someone who does
Attend events to network with photographers and stylists
Look at business and local council websites to see if there are any grants available
Write a business plan to give you a sense of purpose and help you focus on your goals
Timothy Andrews is an up-and-coming Knitwear Designer
“I finished my BA in Knitwear in 2002. I couldn’t afford to start a Masters right away and so I worked for three years in order to get some money behind me. I started an MA in Knitwear in 2005 at RCA and worked part time throughout the two-year course to pay my...