- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Kaplan Business; Original edition (September 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0793198992
- ISBN-13: 978-0793198993
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 110 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,495,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fashion Designer Survival Guide: An Insider's Look at Starting and Running Your Own Fashion Business Original Edition
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"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, Marys comprehensive advice is required reading." -- Peter D. Arnold, Executive Director Council of Fashion Designers of America
"For anyone whos 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 Womens 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.
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Having said that, Gehlhar's approach is downright unpleasant. If we're invested enough in starting our own labels to research and read in order to further our education, it's likely that we are WELL AWARE of "The Reality" she so thoughtfully placed in the very first chapter of the book. In fact, it's likely that this "advice" has been pounded into our heads since the very first moment we told someone we wanted to work in fashion. If we're at the point where we're taking the initiative to study the subject on our own, it's 100% unnecessary for this "wisdom" to be included at all, nevermind reiterated in every freaking chapter. Being told that it's hard serves zero purpose; what does telling us we *might* fail do for us in the long run? It's such a myth that "preparing" young hopefuls for the failure that might not even come is constructive. If things end up not going the way we had planned, what will having read it in a book beforehand do for us at that point? Nothing. Conversely, being told a million times over that you might fail before you even begin can convince you on a subconscious level that you absolutely WILL fail, which might actually CAUSE that failure. Ironic, right? Veterans of the industry just LOVE to give us that "bad news" and I've honestly had enough of it. Encourage us to be optimistic and driven right from the start, and we'll have a better chance at success. There is literally no downside to doing it this way, and I kind of can't believe that even needs to be said.
Another huge issue I had with this book was the fact that Gehlhar is absolutely INSISTENT that you work under someone else before you do something as cray-cray as make your own way (the horror!). Her incessant pushing of this throughout the book is obnoxious. If working for someone else for 5+ years while you could be running your own business is not what you want to do, just cross that sh*t out and keep reading.
A couple notes to the author:
1. Rework your first chapter. It sets a downtrodden tone for the rest of your book and I'm sure that's not what you want (right?). Encourage your readers. Tell them that most other authors would try to kill their spirits but you're not gonna do that because you believe in them. Don't worry, it won't do any harm!
2. Cool it on the "GET A JOB FIRST!!!!" angle. To insinuate that's the only way one can be successful is just irresponsible. Remember that the people reading this book are likely entrepreneurs and have been for a long time, if not their whole lives. And there's nothing wrong with this! Present working under someone else as an option and that's it.
To wrap up, I do recommend this book to those who want a career like Alexander Wang or Stella McCartney or Rodarte, and know next to nothing about how to get started. I have many many pages flagged and highlighted, and I'll definitely be going back through once I've started my business. If you want to start and stay small or if you know quite a bit about the fashion industry already, skip it.
Lastly, don't let this book discourage you. Don't let those bitter veterans try to sink your ship under the guise of "tough love". Absorb the technical information you need and ignore the rest, because you are not everyone else, and you are not this author. Believe that you can do it, because you can.
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. This book gives you direction and an idea of how your mindset should be when creating a line and it gives you alot of pointers and warnings. Making this the perfect book for someone who isn't in the fashion industry. But as a person who's been to business school and studied at a fashion school I just expected a little more, I'm probably asking for too much, but what the hey- why not? lol.
I look at this book as a great complementary to a more detailed book. I haven't read these, but from what I can see in Amazon's "look inside" and from some of the reviews: "Fashion Unraveled", "Fashion for Profit", and "How to Setup and Run a Fashion Label" may be great compliments to this book. For my fashion marketing class I had to read "The Business of Fashion, Designing, Manufacturing and Marketing". That's a textbook and does offer great detail as well, but it comes at a much bigger pricetag. I just wish I kept it instead of giving it back after my class was over.
As a person in the industry I'll say that this book definitely solidified alot of my own thoughts and gave me many great tidbits that will be helpful and will come to mind as I'm creating my line. Just don't expect "numbers" and financial examples from this book. Just view it as a insiders guide to the business of fashion with accompanying examples and summaries of the experiences of other designers. Because of the low pricetag and solid examples I would definitely recommend purchasing it, but keep in mind that you will still need to find books and search the internet for number and business plan examples. (And, lets just say with all the junk out there its hard to find everything on the internet it takes soooooo much time digging through sites and sites and fake sites that lead you to sites that want you to pay hundreds just for a numerical overview of the women's retail market... oops sorry, I think I'm venting now, lol).
This book is great, I recommend buying it. But I suggest Mary Gehlhar make a revised version in a year or two that has numbers because if she did it would be like the Bible for starting a fashion line.
PS- This book really is like a wake-up call for people who just say to themselves "I want to start a clothing line", you know, people who aren't in the industry and just think it'll be this fun easy thing to do. It gives those type people ALOT of perspective. For someone who already has an idea for a line, is well-versed in fashion, and aware of the climate of the retail industry and fashion market this book has its shortcomings. But it is still helpful though, so thats why it's a useful book to have around.