After living in Europe for 10 years (mostly during my teen years) and seeing how edgy and effortless the European fashion is, I knew I wanted to design. I had relatives in Chicago, so it was the perfect place for me to discover myself and develop the craft as a design student.
I love creating mood boards, drawing edgy skeleton like croquis and looking through vintage editorials as inspiration for my new designs, over the last two years. I have never taken any classes on building a brand so I felt like it was time to understand the business side of fashion! Being a BFA major at Columbia, the focus is on actual design work, so interning for a small business made total sense. In just two weeks alone, I have learned a lot about the business side of fashion, the what to do and what not to do for sure!
Brynn explained to me when choosing your materials you have to consider the cost of the the materials and staying within your budget. Then she showed me that you can organize everything by using cost sheets which reports all of the costs associated with your product.
Here’s where the math comes in!
So she has basic cost sheet templates where we input all the raw materials. And because the formulas (thank god!) are already in the sheet, when we started punching in different numbers and scenarios you see how much the price changes. By increasing a couple cents on your fabric or hardware, your handbag would increase in price automatically.
I started understanding if I wanted to design a dress I would have to figure out the cost of fabric, the labor and how much my final product would be before I sold it. The fashion business is not just about how chic, edgy and fashionable your design is, its also about who is buying your design and how much it’s going to cost to make it and more importantly how much they are willing to spend on it.
For example on Handbag Designer 101, you can see that similar bags have very different pricing because of the raw materials and margins used. When looking for materials, we are constantly plugging in numbers to see how much it would end up costing at wholesale and at retail and what we need to change. This is why we do tons of research to see what the market will bear and if it’ll be sellable.
I’m excited to learn more from this internship and what the real world of fashion really is.