3 questions to ask yourself if you are black and want to start a business in fashion

[All thoughts below are just my opinion. I am not a fashion designer or a stylist, but I do understand the business side of fashion so here are my thoughts]

While I have a business in marketing, I am someone who follows the business aspect of fashion. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday about the business side of fashion and we are both fashion lovers, and I was talking about how French designer Roland Mouret actually lost the rights to his own name when he exploded onto the scene a few years ago. He’s back now, with his own name after having to wrangle it back. I always liked Mouret’s work, so I was sad to hear that he is one of the designers who was obviously naive but maybe to a certain extent taken advantage of. This brings me to the crux of my post today – there are so many young black people who adore fashion and want to make a. The popularity of black fashion blogs such as the Fashion Bomb, Street Etiquette and black fashion magazines like Fashizblack highlight that actually there is a massive market for fashion & beauty that is targeted to young affluent black people across the world.

This in turn has led to a big rush in the number of fashion brands created by black people, which can only be a good thing – or can it? Here are seven reasons why anyone who wants to create a fashion brand or thinks they have what it takes should not.

[1] Are you giving your consumer something they want? Quite frankly, fashion is not art. It is fashion – it should be practical and useful. Gareth Pugh has a MAC contract so he can still create unwearable clothes. Good for him, most designers are not that lucky. I am only speaking as a consumer and as a business person who loves fashion, you have to give the consumer what they want. Yves Saint Laurent gave the female consumer tuxedo suits they could wear, Christian Louboutin gives the female consumer shoes they want. If you cannot answer yes to this question, maybe the answer should be no.

[2] Do you understand how the business side of fashion works? If you want to create a fashion business, knowing how to stitch is not that relevant because businesses are built on staff who can do that for you. What you need to know is how the business side works – take care of the numbers and the rest will follow. This means it is now your job, day in and day out, to know what is happening the fashion market. You need to things like what Hugo Boss is planning for 2015, you need to know about the latest acquisitions in the fashion world, if the Gilt Groupe is going to go for an IPO and whether the Michael Kors float has worked out for the better. You need to read annual reports from popular fashion & beauty brands such as Mulberry and L’Oreal whether you like them or not.

[3] Are you going to cater to the mass market or a niche? It is clear to me that niche is where people can make the biggest splash. Street Etiquette is probably the best case study of this, even though it is a blog, not a clothing brand, the founders have created something unique because it taps into one often forgotten aspect of fashion: men and more the point black men who are economically powerful but hitherto have not been catered for beyond brands like Rocawear or having to go to tailors.

I have a voracious appetite for business, and I am definitely someone who likes to know the business side of things first. I created this post because I think there are people out there who are considering creating a fashion business. Just as how I feel about marketing, there is no point creating the business unless you are going to see it until the bitter end and make it financially viable. Being a black person in business means you have *got* to make it work because you have to support your family and your goals.

Have these questions helped you if you want to work in fashion? Tell me what you think!


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