Amid a splendid outdoor candlelit setting, Fashion Prize finalists Reema Al Banna of Reemami, Aya and Mounaz Abdelraouf of Okhtein, and Ralph Masri were named the winners for the womenswear, accessories, and fine jewelry categories respectively. The following morning, Vogue Arabia invited the winners to a relaxed outdoor breakfast with designer and Fashion Prize juror Zuhair Murad. The internationally renowned designer imparted advice on how to transition an emerging fashion brand into something bigger.
A collection should have 10 to 15 pieces—maximum—and its message should be very clear; there should only be one story. A designer may have a lot of ideas, but she cannot show them all together, because people will lose sight of the brand’s identity. A designer has to work to always improve the product and concentrate on the bigger creation, but also the production and the business. This last point is very important because a designer will want to sell her product. It’s very important to improve the quality, to find the good factory, a good pattern maker, and to invest more on finishing.
KEEP YOUR FACTORIES CLOSE
I like to see the Middle Eastern touch. Keep the production of your product in the Middle East as much as possible. Make sure to keep this Middle Eastern touch in every collection and add something new to this oriental twist. It’s nice and unique.
WORK HARD ON YOUR COLLECTIONS—THE REST WILL COME
I don’t work to have a good relationship with people, I just work hard on my collections, and I get my best results working this way. When you create something beautiful, the rest comes naturally. I don’t make a plan, and make dressing a celebrity a goal. My plan is my collection.
BUILD A SOLID TEAM
To keep a sustained income throughout the year, get an accountant to help you. Go to Paris or Milan and present the collection during fashion week and contact the international buyers. Competition is tough, and the quality of your product can be a competitive advantage. In the beginning, don’t use a PR firm year-round. With the help of social media, you can do a lot of the promotion yourself. Contract a PR company during the peak seasons if necessary.
MAINTAIN YOUR SIGNATURE
With each collection, I always bring back my signature pieces; otherwise the brand loses its identity.
Yes, collaborate with other designers. In fact, I collaborated with Mango many years ago.
RETHINK YOUR STRATEGY
A Pre-Fall collection is more important than a seasonal collection because you sell more. Consider doing Pre-Fall and Resort instead of a main collection (fall/spring) that is designed for the catwalk and to show off showpieces. Buyers will spend more money on Pre-Fall and Resort. The boutiques will receive the clothes earlier, they will stay in the shops longer, and there is no discount so they sell more. The main collections are received late and then there are sales two months later. Meanwhile, you can keep your Pre-Fall or Resort collection in-store throughout.
This concept is very difficult to implement. One has to present and produce without knowing what buyers want. It’s a big risk. You can choose a few items that you know will sell, but you can’t do this with all the pieces.
DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE
You must do something that you really love. When you are convinced of your product, people will buy it, and love it, too.