Before I left for my trip to Indonesia back in November, I was invited to scope out a selection of local and Canadian based brands at YEG show, curated by the guys behind Cannibalkings. Events like YEG show and the people who push to market and showcase all the talented individuals are one of the many things I love most about Edmonton. Creatives are offered an abundance of opportunities to share their dreams and passion with their city, but is this enough?
Vendors were divided into three sections. The first group was heavily logo and print focused, while the makers, curators, and fashion designers occupied the other two sections. I had the opportunity to speak with a number of vendors about their process, production, and challenges they have encountered.
Sampling and production seems to be the most common issue among majority of the clothing vendors. Designers placed extreme value and emphasis on the “Made in Canada” label but with products and price points that only in mass production can you turn a real profit. I speak from experience when I say this, creatives do not intend to do this, but often set themselves up to work harder while earning less. Sooner or later we end up burning ourselves out, or call it quits because the business is not profiting to stay afloat. While marketing and getting your product out for the world to see is important, knowing your target market, logistics planning, understanding and optimising your supply chain should be at the very top of your list in all efforts of running a sustainable business.
If you have chosen to be a street wear brand to be placed alongside the likes of Diamond co. Supply, HUF, The Hundreds, Supreme, Stussy, whatever brand you look up to, you must first know your target market. Who are your buyers, consumers, at what price point do you intend on targeting? What makes your product stand out from the rest? What do you offer that your competitors don’t already? While I have heard the argument in which designers want to create a brand that is accessible and affordable to everyone, the lower price point may not necessarily translate the way you intend. Making the assumption that someone will buy into your brand with no plan is not only a recipe for disaster, it can become an expensive lesson, but I digress.
While having inspirations and ideas are important to creating a brand, execution is where you will be judged. You can only get as far as your supply chain will allow. If you are spending all your time designing, drafting, sampling, and producing, this leaves little time for you to focus on the distribution and sales growth of your company. So what is our call to action? What can we do to solve the lack (or possibly non-existent) clothing and textile manufacturing in Alberta? Maybe sharing resources and exchanging labor with other designers to create your brands can solve the sampling phase of your businesses. Another possible solution could be to team up with a few other designers/brands and combine production to help with delivery and manufacturing costs. Or maybe one of us will start a small factory and hope there exists a large demand for manufacturing. Whatever the solution may be, I truly believe that this is something we all have to work together collectively to create. It is not the responsibility of one individual, but for everyone who wants to be involved in creating a sustainable fashion industry in Alberta.
Fundamentals of economics. Supply and demand, right?