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The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business (Paperback) Unknown Binding – 2008

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B002WCJG68
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,695,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As the Fashion Division Director of Gen Art, Mary Gehlhar has worked closely with up-and-coming designers to start, operate, and grow design businesses. She has lent her expertise to the Rising Star Award committee at Fashion Group International, the Pratt Institute Fashion Jury, and the Open Call panel for the Miramax/Bravo show Project Runway. Mary has been interviewed by the New York Times, British Vogue, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and E! Style channel.

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book to anyone thinking about starting their own fashion design business.
Linda L. Torres
Mary Gehlhar's guide is applicable not only to US designers but also globally, since the fashion industry basics work the same way in the US, UK, Europe and Asia.
Julia Shpak
After reading the book he told me that he really loved it and all the information has been very helpful.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

492 of 508 people found the following review helpful By Magicians_assistant on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have a small fashion label that launched last year. To begin, I invested approximately $15,000 in the sewing, fabrics and labor, and another $5,000 in advertising, most of which I do myself. I do not employ a production manager as is insisted on in this book. I do not have a twenty step process that requires a dozen middle-people and unneeded management. It is me- the designer, a contract sewing company and me and my husband doing the advertising. It is hard work, but the point is that doing this, we make very good profits even the first year. If I employed this author's advice, I would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (which I do not have) on pretty much nothing. My clothing is sold in the US, UK and by Fall of 2012 we plan to have shops in Panama and Rio De Janeiro.

A few notes:
I can't sew. I hate sewing. I have a good eye for design and design what I think are great clothes. Others think so too and they buy them.
I am not an artist. I have never taken an art class. I use templates and draw clothing over them.

Point is, you don't have to be a seamstress or an artist, so don't let that scare you.

I basically have no clue what I am doing- and I did it anyway, SUCCESSFULLY. You do NOT need middle-men. You do NOT need to be John Galliano. You do NOT need to have your fashions on the catwalk at Fashion Week in Paris. You DO need to work your ass off. You DO need to be certain that this is what you want to do, because the time/effort/money investment does grow and eat up your resources, but to begin, it's not nearly as cost intensive as this book claims.

This book is for those who want to be the next Calvin Klein/Ana Sui/Dolce & Gabana/etc. It's for those that want to take the long way.

My advice to you is this:
Don't let not knowing what you're doing stop you from doing anything. Have you seen the crap on runways? They don't know what they're doing either.
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82 of 87 people found the following review helpful By clothing design entrepreneur on December 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mary Gehlhar's book is outstanding. It has depth and breath. I really enjoyed all the quotes and pearls of wisdom provided by so many lovely people in the apparel industry. This book covers everything - from concept and design to wholesale price points to retail product placement. This book shows you "the what" and "the how" like no other apparel industry book has.

What I especially enjoyed learning about was the legal information. Thank you Charles Klein for you saved me much heartache that comes with losing your intellectual property. Now I can work with investors wisely for you have banished the only fear I have and that is losing control of my intellectual property as I lose some corporate control due to investors' terms. This is what I read books for - to gain knowledge and insight from people who have done it before me, do it better than me, and write it down to share with us curious souls and thirsty minds.

The other aspect of this book I found to be stellar and not noted in any other fashion industry book (and I read them all) is what Mary Gehlhar says about patternmaking and samplemaking. She states both sides of the argument, doing it yourself and others doing it for you, articulately and succinctly. I applaud you Mary Gehlhar. You wrote a great book.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Serendipity. on November 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will admit-- I chose this "how to start a fashion business" guide book over the other ones because it's more famous. And because of the Diane Von Furstenberg foreword, Tim Gunn review, and many little interviews with actual designers. Lets not forget the great price (w/ free shipping if $25 is spent).

This book is definitely a good read-- its full of practical information and great advice and real-world examples of situations designers go through (designers going bankrupt, exclusivity of certain production factories, problems with selling to certain stores, etc). Its a very "real" look at fashion from a well thought out point of view.

All that said, when I began to create my business plan this book was little help. I mean it certainly gave me a great summarized outline, but it lacks numbers. I just wish it had more number examples, you know more "averages". Like the average or sample amounts of material cost, production, and overhead cost for an emerging designers. How many pieces are recommended for a new designer and if they choose to sell to a store-- whats the average amount of pieces they sell the store and how many of each sizes (ie: 20 dresses? size 2(2) size 4(2) size 6(4) size 8(4) size 10(4) size 12(4))

I know averages can greatly differ, but I wish they would have made-up or created a fake fashion line, and created a very modified business plan with numbers, just as a sample. (That alone would have made this book perfect.)

It also needed more equations. The only equation was COGS. The book was great, but it seriously lacked numbers and tangibility. As in I was thinking this book would be a onestop shop, but it wasn't.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By msb on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Extremely disappointed with this book. Rather than focusing on the struggles, adversities, drawbacks, and the unhappiness of being a designer, I'd rather invest my time in a text which offers concrete instruction on how to overcome the obstacles. This book is premised upon the "facts" that you: a) require hundreds of thousands of dollars in reserve to even consider launching your own line, b) MUST work for several years under another designer prior to designing for yourself, and c) you most likely won't make it, even on a small scale. Every artist is aware of monetary limitations and minuscule success rates, so I believe most of us would benefit more from tangible advice, and an author who can offer various routes to achieve discernible goals (rather than abstract ideas and incessant "words of warning"). A few good points throughout the book, but I wouldn't recommend it.
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