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The Fashion Designer Survival Guide: An Insider's Look at Starting and Running Your Own Fashion Business [Paperback]

Mary Gehlhar , Zac Posen
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)


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Book Description

September 1, 2005 0793198992 978-0793198993 Original
The national retail apparel business has grown to a $172 billion per year industry, and the employment rate for designers is expected to outpace that of all other occupations through the year 2008. The Fashion Designer Survival Guide is a must-have for the thousands of talented designers who want to see their dream of creating an independent fashion line become a reality.Mary Gehlhar, author, industry authority, and consultant to hundreds of designers (including newcomers Alicia Bell, Keanan Duffty, and Milly), gives readers behind-the-scenes advice and essential business information on creating and sustaining a successful career as an independent designer. The Fashion Designer Survival Guide provides the necessary tools to get a fashion line or label up and moving on the right track, including: •Start-up costs and financing •Legal issues •Business plans •Public relations and sales •Marketing and manufacturing •Distribution-trade, trunk, and runway shows This book also provides case studies from independent designers at different stages of their careers, including tough letdowns and exciting successes. Young designers weigh-in on topics important to them when they were starting out, while several top name designers offer personal perspectives on a single question, providing a window to their world and a variety of answers.Designers are bursting with creativity but often fall flat going into business as an independent. The Fashion Designer Survival Guide provides designers with the one thing design school didn’t-intelligent and successful business practices.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"A must-read for anyone in the world of fashion. Gehlhar offers practical tips and strategies to increase chances of success." -- Soma Magazine, September 2005 Wordplay

"Every aspiring designer needs this book. Mary Gehlhar wrote an invaluable, step-by-step guide to succeeding on Seventh Avenue and beyond." -- Nancy MacDonell, Editor at Large, NYLON, and author of The Classic Ten: The
True Story of the Little Black Dress and Nine Other Fashion Favorites


"For anyone seeking to compete and succeed in our crowded and highly competitive industry, Mary’s comprehensive advice is required reading." -- —Peter D. Arnold, Executive Director Council of Fashion Designers of America

"For anyone who’s ever aspired to be an independent designer, this is the book to pick up." -- --The Daily

"Lest fashion's neophytes get too dreamy, Gehlhar is there to ground them…" -- From Women’s Wear Daily

"Mary presents many expectations he or she will confront in the marketplace and provides excellent professional advice throughout the book." -- —Margaret Hayes, President, The Fashion Group International

"This book encourages all aspiring designers ready to embark on an independent career within the industry." -- —Rebecca Taylor

"Touching on everything from sales to runway shows and everything in between, this new book has got fashionistas everywhere covered." -- Nylon magazine BOOKMARK

Must read…find out from a pro who has worked with up-and-coming designers. -- --New York Daily News

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Kaplan Business; Original edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0793198992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0793198993
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,059 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
467 of 480 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read this book, just so you can do the opposite 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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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This guide is the best apparel industry book out there 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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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Review from a soon-to-be Fashion Designer. 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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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed. January 7, 2010
By msb
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars What to do & what not to do...
Book gives real world advice on how to get ahead in the fashion industry. The book advises about working under a reputable designer to get the real world experience and I 100%... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jenna
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected!
Honestly, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to purchase this book or not! I am SO happy I decided to get it. It has been really helpful to me and I cant wait to finish the book!
Published 3 months ago by alyssa alayvilla
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
This is a good basic overview for anyone looking to enter the apparel business. Not too in-depth but a good "look back" resource. Reads well and not too text bookish.
Published 6 months ago by Heather McKinley
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Great book if one decides to start a business. Even if not very interesting and useful reading for any fashion designers
Published 7 months ago by Natella
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the beginner
This was given as a gift to a collage graduate & she absolutely loved it! She calls it her bible?
Published 8 months ago by Kathy H
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for fashion designers or industrialists
It approaches the art of fashion design and marketing with a very hollistic and procedurial approach, essential for anyone involved in the fashion industry, and even for industrial... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Oscar Fabra
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Informative
It was a gift. She seemed to like it. I thought it was informative and easy to refrence each topic without to much extra information about the authors blah blah blah experiences.
Published 16 months ago by Sally Lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars OVERALL VALUABLE INFORMATION
I AM A SELF-TAUGHT FASHION DESIGNER, FROM THE AGE OF 12 YEARS OLD, AND HAVE BEEN IN THE BUSINESS OF: DESIGNING FOR MY OWN FASHION SHOWS, AND WELL AS FOR PRIVATE CLIENTS, AND FOR... Read more
Published 18 months ago by TTB
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good!!!!
My husband got this for me as a gift and it is chalk full of great information and advice and is a MUST HAVE for anyone serious about a career in fashion design
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars For a beginner
It's a limited view of the fashion bussiness, it doesn't aport much value, it should be complemented with other books
Published 20 months ago by NMM
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