Monday, June 15, 2009

A Hybrid Model for Garment Production

The traditional model seems so wasteful: make $20,000 worth of samples which you will distribute to your showrooms, ALL of which cost 3X the standard garment production cost, FEW to NONE of which will ever be sold to recoup any of the money.

In launching Pixyworld, we just couldn't do it. Why not do a real production run right off the bat, with reasonable production costs, and sell direct to the retail customer, at a reasonable retail price?

Well, this approach turned out not to be the whole solution either. Selling to the retail customer, "cold," without brand recognition, turned out to be unworkably slow. We realized that retailers and showrooms do provide a valuable service to the designer, especially the new designer.

So we have begun giving samples to showrooms and taking wholesale orders. Mind you, the samples we are giving them cost a fraction of the typical sample cost. Also, we believe we are giving retailers a much-needed option: to buy small quantities for immediate shipment, rather than ordering large quantites 6 months in advance. In today's retail climate, retailers need this kind of flexibility.

But there are still two down sides to this approach: First, it limits our sales potential to what we actually have in stock. Our fabrics, to date, are non-reorderable; so we have no way of taking orders for more garments than we had made initially. Second, we are finding that many retailers, used to the season-ahead ordering system, simply don't have money to spend on orders for immediate shipment; they have already spend this season's money, last season.

So our idea is to move toward a hybrid approach: make a moderate-sized first production run, rather than making samples. Make these garments available for immediate sale. But design the garments so that they are also re-orderable. This way, we can also be taking orders to be filled at the beginning of the next season.

This approach can only work if our collections are extremely versatile, season-wise. Also, it will only work while we are small enough to avoid the stigma attached to "last season's" designs. But those are exactly our strengths. Perhaps this can be a way forward for today's new boutique line.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dressed 2009: Pixyworld on the Runway

I'm really not an "event" person. So it was out of my comfort zone to organize 12 mini-models, with male relatives as their escorts, for the fashion show in our area last weekend.

But I have to admit it was kind of fun, when it actually happened. The little girls were thrilled have their moment in the limelight, and I guess I was too!

It was even fun for my two boys, who can't model for Pixyworld, but enjoyed attending their first runway show. They got to come backstage, and were proud of their designing Mama.

My fashion mentor, Mary Gelhar (The Fashion Designer Survival Guide) questions the payoff of participating in runway shows. I have to agree with her there. The exposure gained is still so limited compared with the time, effort, and expense of participating in a show.

But interacting with models and other designers can stimulating and energizing. I'd say that it's worth doing, if a designer keeps in mind why she's doing it.
Also posted at Pixyworld Blog