Ask Alexandra: I Want to Build My Own Brand

Ask Alexandra is my advice column. Have a question you want to ask me? Fill out the form here.

Yena Anh, London College of Fashion, fashion school, I want to be a fashion designer

Shoes by London College of Fashion student, Yena Ahn.

Hi Alexandra,

I don’t know if you ever got a question like this before from someone else but here is mine:

I am still in high school and I want to be a fashion designer. And I’m already thinking about build my very own brand (it isn’t too early, right?)

I was (and am still) learning about sewing, sketching, fashion history, and more but I feel quite clueless about starting a brand. I mean, should I have a launching event for my brand? Invite press, bloggers, ask for help with PR? And after that night, can I call myself a designer? Or all I need to do just build an website (with my name) showing my garments and sell it online and in stores? I was wondering what Marc Jacobs did at his very first step for his brand? And now I am wondering what I need to do now and after it.

Alexandra, I really need your help! What should I do to break into fashion industry? Can you please explain step by step of build a brand? And give some advice?

Yena Anh, London College of Fashion, fashion school, I want to be a fashion designer

Shoes by London College of Fashion student, Yena Ahn.

Hi Riska,

The short answer to this question would be: finish high school, study fashion for a few years, work in a fashion company for a few years, and then you will be ready to start a fashion brand, and you’ll know the answers to all the questions above.

I can’t explain the step by step to building a fashion brand, because it is a HUGE undertaking. Do you think Marc Jacobs just decided one day to start a fashion brand and he was famous two weeks later? No. Did he throw a party and then call himself a designer? No. He went to Parsons, then he worked, THEN he started his own brand successfully.

Yena Anh, London College of Fashion, fashion school, I want to be a fashion designer

Shoes by London College of Fashion student, Yena Ahn.

You sound dedicated and motivated, and that is a very good thing. You are learning the necessary skills: history, illustration, and construction – those are very important. But becoming a fashion designer is a lot of work, and so is building a big brand. If you try and start right now, chances are very, very high that you will fail. If you educate yourself for a few years, and then learn the ropes of business, you have a much better chance of making it. So that is my advice: 3-5 years of school, 2-4 years of working in the industry, and then you can build your brand. If you want a shortcut, then become a famous actress or singer, and then maybe you can skip the above steps.

Fashion is a competitive industry and it takes a lot of work to make it. Why is it that people think they can just “become” a fashion designer overnight? Do people think the role is THAT easy that it requires virtually no training, experience, and talent? This is a prime example of how devalued the role of the fashion designer has become, and it makes me sad. You want to build a successful fashion brand? Expect at least five years of “preparation” if you want a good chance of succeeding.

P.S. I’ll be posting about how to bring your brand to market on Wednesday – check back.

Further reading:
5 Things to Do to Prepare for a Career in Fashion
Ask Alexandra: Best Fashion Courses
10 Tips to a Great Fashion Portfolio
Ask Alexandra: 5 Ways to Impress Fashion Universities