This is an excerpt from SOLD: The PR Couture Fashion Buyer Guide, which comes complimentary with the purchase of our Fashion Buyer Guide. The e-guide features tips gleaned from a conversation with a buyer at a top specialty retailer.
Have you ever heard the saying, “be great at one thing rather than mediocre at many?" Well it couldn’t be truer in retail. Brands that find success in department stores, boutiques and specialty stores have a core offering; a selection of pieces that buyers and customers come to depend upon season after season. These brands build a following by consistently offering the foundation pieces, while expanding each season to include new options that reinvent or reinterpret them.
The goal is to be consistent enough with your fashion line so that you build loyalty and offer stability, but creative enough to keep things fresh and exciting.
Because that loyalty takes time to build, emerging designers often shift focus from their core collection to new offerings in an attempt to attract more interest. For example, during first quarter they introduce themselves as jewelry designers, come second quarter they’ve added scarfs, and by fourth quarter handbags are coming down the pike.
Slow down. Allow a retailer (and yourself) the opportunity to gain notoriety for one category before you start adding others.
Charlotte shared, “I reviewed a jewelry brand last month with 121 pieces actively available for purchase. That’s a lot to absorb for anyone, retailer and consumer alike.” Before you reach out, make sure to correct imbalances in any area or risk appearing creatively zealous and disorganized.
And that risk is extended to brands with limited sku’s as well. Create balance by offering an even spread among your line so the consumer can build looks within the collection and not be tempted to shop elsewhere. When a buyer accepts your line, it can be at the expense of another brand’s space, so look to supply more than a handful of pieces. If you are a jewelry designer, don’t send us 5 pairs of earrings and a necklace. If you design clothing, 4 dresses and a top will not cut it. Generally speaking, regardless of product category, aim for 12-15 pieces before reaching out to a buyer.
Of course, while this holds true for seasonal collections there are the exceptions to this rule which are capsule, holiday or resort injections which can be 5-7 pieces.
PS: Be your own sales force! Our Fashion Buyer Contact List grants you instant access to buyers at more than 175 domestic retailers (and 10 international retailers), including multi-level buyer contact information for all major department stores. Stop wasting time researching and start pitching your line!
Photo credit: Made Gold