Fashion Mogul Curriculum: Break Into The Industry With a Customer-First Mindset

What does it take to become a budding fashion mogul? Well, it’s something along the lines of grit, passion, and tenacity. A round-up of some of the most innovative names in fashion proves that the path to stylish success isn’t perfectly laid out, rather it may take a few internships, a degree in fashion design, a few fails, or just the willingness to learn to truly thrive. Chris Morris, the creator of Dirt Label streetwear, Vivian Ramirez of Puma’s Entertainment Marketing and Partnerships, Omar Rajput, the Art Director for FF To Def Ent. (Big Sean), and celebrity stylist Ade Samuel (Big Sean, Michael B. Jordan, Justine Skye & more) sat down with aspiring designers to discuss breaking into the industry, identifying the customer, and how to reach them. Despite their varying backgrounds, these industry professionals have one common denominator and that’s a dedication to the craft (risks and all).

Identifying Your Customer

The fundamentals of any business is an understanding of who your customer is and what they are looking for. You need to know the demand to be able to supply. Morris, who dropped out of college to pursue his craft, admitted that his first attempt at fashion failed. It was an Ed-Hardy-like line so he took a very different approach with Dirt Label. He considered “what does the customer not yet know that they want?” As a result of filling the void, Lil Wayne began rocking his streetwear label.

Rajput, who comes from a corporate background, notes that in his time at Stance Socks, shoe companies like Foot Action and Foot Locker would provide customer profiles before drafting their designs. “This is Malachi, his age is this, he wears these types of sneakers, he shops at these stores, and he listens to this. And then you design towards that customer,” he said. These are the types of customer traits and characteristics to be considered when creating a brand and a product. When it comes to designing for a specific client (say Big Sean), Rajput would also consider design influences and the types of style the client is looking for.

Storytelling also sells the brand, be it how the materials were sourced or the textures made, this attracts yet another type of customer. Moreover, this sort of transparency can be valuable to the eco-conscious or high-end customer. “You’re providing access to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to that kind of info and everyone wants that exclusivity and that kind of experience,” explained Ramirez. “Storytelling is important because people really buy into the story. Now, what we are seeing on a consumer base is there’s so much competition and you need to figure out how you are standing out from everyone else… by sharing your story and sharing access it brings in the customer.”

Knowing How and Where To Reach Them

Once the design is made, how do you reach the perfect customer? Working with a marketing team is key in creating rollouts that can capture the attention of the intended customer. As Ramirez pointed out, it is important to make a distinction between your global and regional marketing rollouts. “What works in Asia may not work in Europe.” This can even be tailored nationally. What grasps the attention on the East Coast may not work the same on the West Coast.

How Does Your Design Speak To Your Perfect Customer?

“You need to understand the customer base and understand what they are looking for,” Morris reminded the crowd as he referred to his previous fashion fail. “Once you understand everything, then that creates a profile of what you need to design. When I started out I was doing stuff that I liked and that wasn’t necessarily selling until we adapted a different theory which was talking to our audience and our community and what exactly they liked before designing.” More so, Ade Samuel advised to be truly successful, a designer needs to look past the hype and look at the consumer. “Just research, slow down, and fine-tune your craft,” Samuel said. “Pay attention to the consumers, not just what is selling on social media, but what’s really selling on the outside of this fantasy world we are living in with the growth of social statuses and social media.”

If looking to become a fashion mogul, start with your intended customer. What do they like? Where do they shop? Bring them inside the brand. Provide them with access. Authenticity is a major key. And finally, be in it for the long haul because nothing worth having comes easy.

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Sade Spence

Covering POP culture for the culture!

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