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The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business


The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business


Mary Gehlhar, author, industry authority, and consultant to hundreds of designers, including Zac Posen, Twinkle by Wenlan, Rebecca Taylor, and Cloak, gives readers behind-the-scenes insights and essential business information on creating and sustaining a successful career as an independent designer.

With advice from fashion luminaries including Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Cynthia Rowley, Diane von Furstenberg, Richard Tyler, and top executives from Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York, this fully updated and revised edition of The Fashion Designer Survival Guide addresses the latest trends in apparel and accessories, the newest designers, an updated introduction, and a new foreword by Diane von Furstenberg, Designer and President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

The Fashion Designer Survival Guide provides the necessary tools to get a fashion line or label up and moving on the right track, including:
  • How to create a viable business plan
  • Figuring out how much money you need, where and how to get it, and how to make it last, including the latest on private equity
  • The best sources for fabric and materials
  • Navigating the pitfalls of production both at home and abroad
  • Marketing, branding, and getting the product into the stores and into the customer’s closets
  • Romancing the press, dressing celebrities, and creative publicity techniques
  • Producing a runway show that will get results

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What customers say about The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business?

  1. 54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    A Review from a soon-to-be Fashion Designer., November 13, 2009
    By 

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business (Paperback)
    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. 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.

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  2. 87 of 92 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
    By 
    clothing design entrepreneur (Atlanta, GA United States) –

    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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  3. 76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Not impressed., January 7, 2010
    By 
    msb

    This review is from: The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business (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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