Negotiation Steps for Fashion Designers

Starting a fashion business will require a lot of investments. You’ll need to find a location for your store of office, you’ll need to source your fabrics, you’ll need to invest in your production, you’ll need to get your products shipped, you’ll need to get a website, etc. You’ll maybe also need to get a loan. And very early on, even before you start designing, you will need to sign contracts, so make sure you know how to negotiate them well.

Negotiation is not only a price/cost question, you’ll have to negotiate time, length of contract, service quality, exclusivity, shipping terms, interests, commissions, you name it. When trying to set up any kind of contract it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the price alone, trying to get the lower price possible. But in B2B negotiations, one is not a bazaar customer.

For this article, I looked back at my courses in Fashion Management and continued researching online. I concluded that the basics of negotiations are similar for both sellers and buyers.

Let’s look at the 6 steps of negotiation for sellers, and adapt them to a buyer’s perspective.

The 6 steps that lead to signing a contract are:

Identification and Formalisation of the Need

What do you really need? You need to ask yourself this question. We are not talking about what you want or what you wish for. In a business negotiation, the seller has to understand your needs. We are coming back to the essence of communications with this topic. To be prepared to negotiate, you have to know and communicate your expectations.
To communicate your needs, you will have to assess them, to evaluate them and to formulate them. You have to set up goals and make a differentiation in between what you cannot live without and what you wish for. Drawing this line will help you in focusing on the important points of your negotiation.

For example, your need may be to set up your business, to get your products in the hands of your customers.

This formalization of need implies a quantification of the need, a clear assertion of what is your budget for a particular quantity and for a certain level of service.

Then, from your own understanding of your needs, wishes and acceptance level, you can perform a market analysis.

Market Analysis

Learn as much as you can about suppliers and their products, their own competitors, the market situation (economically and geographically), etc. Be aware of your purchasing power and then you’ll be able to draw a tender.


From your analysis, ask for quotes. Quotes, quotes and quotes. Contact the companies you found during your market analysis. Communicate them your needs. Be honest, be open. Explain your situation, who you are, what you do and what you want to do. The company in front of you will be able to make you a proper offer on the ground of a good understanding of your needs.

Results Analysis

Don’t jump on the first quote you receive. Study all of them, compare them and meet the vendors. Talk with them. Assess the quotes that are meeting your request.

Short List

From your results just pick up the quotes or offers that match your needs. Now you enter the negotiation process. Don’t waste your time in negotiating with all of the companies that answered to you.


You can not become a negotiator overnight. Attitude and tactics will come with experience and are to be taken depending the type of service you are contracting for. You are not negotiating the same way the terms of  a contract with your fabric supplier as you are negotiating your rent.

Until this point, you communicated to your potential businesses partners, who you are and how or why you would use their services for.

You want to conduct business with individuals that really understand your needs, and who are not trying to push you. Think about long term relationships, you need to get into a win-win situation. Establishing a solid, trustworthy relationship with a supplier can only help your retail business in the long-run.

Bonus Negotiation Tip: Don’t hesitate in mentioning you talked with competitors (just don’t reveal confidential information). You’ll be able to assess the other party’s real interest in working with you and the value they can bring. Remember, vendor relations should be treated as collaborations rather than conquests. Just like the buyer, the vendor must make a profit to stay in business, so if you feel he tries to conquer you, you might not be 100% in a collaboration situation. Conquest equals to short term, while collaboration equals to long-term success.


Ok, you are there. In front of your contract. Just insure what’s written corresponds to your verbal agreement. Then sign, congratulations you got yourself a vendor!

With experience and time, other variables will have to be taken in account in negotiation : culture (you will maybe not be contracting in your own country), verbal and non verbal communication tricks, your negotiation style, psychology, etc. They will have to be discussed topic by topic. But first, get out there and make your own negotiation experience.

This article was written by Alexandra, fashion consultant. Follow her on Twitter @Stylindublin

Are you looking for a new writing opportunity? Perhaps you have style tips that you would like to share with the world? We value new fashion trends and are always looking for talented guest bloggers. If you’re a blogger or writer, this is the place for you to get noticed. Can you see yourself as a part of our blogging team? Apply here!

Branding and Communications for Emerging Designers (Part 2)

In the first part of this series, we discussed the basics of communications and branding. Today we’ll take you through the practical steps to branding your collection.

This step is vital in having a place to communicate your existence to fashion followers. Which markets have you chosen and what are you target customers? Presenting your collection on various platforms with a logo and products is important, but what’s more crucial is your business lingo as you meet buyers. How can you convince individuals that your products will be a hit?  This is when your business brain should take over.

Discussing who your target is and how your brand is relevant to today’s industry is important. How will you cope with stock turnover or fit the demands of your target store? Depending on the store, the demands and commitments will vary. For example, a department store won’t ask the same things as a small independant shop. This business discussion will be key in communicating with buyers.

Visuals in the form of a logo, pictures, advertising campaigns are key to supporting the expansion of your brand. These will aid in communicating the message of your collection as you meet with buyers. How can you use visuals to show what your brand is, what it stands for, and who it is for? It should align with the message your trying to communicate.

Buyers are not the only individuals designers will have to meet. In the industry, there are suppliers and distributors. This again shows the business side of the industry. For a moment, forget about your brand, creativity, art and your design. You’ll have to prepare the technical aspects of exactly what you want for your products and partners you are working with. Appropriate patterns will be needed for factories to produce products and there is little room for errors. This is described as a business to business (B2B) meeting and for smaller designers, don’t expect the same treatment as a big brand who will have a larger scale of production.

  • Focus on the quality you’ll get for your budget

  • Focus on your margins

  • Be professional, communicate as a professional

  • Be prepared of what you are willing to accept and what you are not

  • Know shipping terms, quantities, quality, margin

  • Get a factory you can count on, though it may not be the cheapest you can find

  • Find a producer with who you can build a long term relationship with

Finally, there is also another group that matters: the press.

If your advertising budget is very small, you’ll have to rely on Public Relations. To create awareness about brands, a good pitch will interest journalists through story telling. Don’t forget pictures in aiding your descriptions of the collection. It should be simple and direct. A great way to do this is communicating with bloggers in your market and important press mediums. Talk about the values and inspiration behind why and how you’ve created the brand.

Doing this is a difficult task for people who are not journalists, but it will help you in business negotiations. This simple exercise will help you express your brand and values in front of buyers and press. Always back up your presentations and PR communications with images as these will define your collection. Optimal use of social media will add to creating brand awareness which will hopefully lead to customers.

With a modest budget, the things outlined above are challenging but not impossible. This is also the case with advertising – how can designers do this with a small budget? Stay tuned for part 3/3!

This article was written by Alexandra. Follow her on Twitter @Stylindublin

Are you looking for a new writing opportunity? Perhaps you have style tips that you would like to share with the world? We value new fashion trends and are always looking for talented guest bloggers. If you’re a blogger or writer, this is the place for you to get noticed. Can you see yourself as a part of our blogging team? Apply here!

Ticket to the Tents: Day 7 NYFW Trend Report

Featuring Betsey Johnson, Erin Fetherston, Anna Sui, Deola Sagoe/Clan, Michael Kors

We are wrapping up our New York Fashion Week coverage, and survived 7 days of running around the city to bring you the latest and greatest in fashion week news! Here is our take on Day 7 trends!


What’s fashion week without an over-the-top runway presentation by Betsey Johnson? Boring! And our team at doesn’t like boring, so luckily for us, we have Betsey Johnson’s runway to look forward to every season. Betsey showcased her Spring collection on Day 7, opening up the show with 2 models representing gay marriage.  When they turned around their suit coats said pre-nup! And that was the name of Betsey’s wedding-themed collection.



Erin Fetherston’s collection was classically simple, but lovely.  Erin featured black and white, pastel yellows, and deep shades of blue.  By default, Betsey’s collection featured a lot of white, since it was wedding themed.  Michael Kors’ collection was also heavy on the blues and yellows, though there were some pastels, and black and white separates intermixed in the collection.


No one mixes prints like Anna Sui, and for her Spring 2015 collection she did not disappoint. Erin Fetherston also incorporated florals, but again in a simple, but sophisticated way. The florals in Erin’s collection did not overwhelm the garments.  Michael Kors featured a plethora of print looks, but the prints were either floral based or plaid based.

Michael Kors - Fashion GPS

Anna Sui - Fashion GPS







Betsey Johnson’s runway featured lots of tulle, as to be expected for her wedding themed collection.  Betsey also featured a few looks that resembled nylon or plastic that would typically be used for rain coat materials! I could definitely see Miley Cyrus in one of these  plastic-esque looks! Erin incorporated sheer fabrics into her collection for use in her striped looks.



The Anna Sui models had everything from veils to shades. It was a really cool runway! Betsey Johnson’s wedding themed collection entitled Pre-Nup featured fun heels and fun handbags.  She created a cake shape handbag and a lipstick shaped handbag.



DEBUT RUNWAY: Deola Sagoe/Clan

The brands Deola Sagoe and Clan fashions debuted for the first time at New York Fashion Week.  Deola Sagoe is the designer behind the Deola Sagoe label, while the clan collection is designed by her daughters Tena, Tiwa, and Aba Sagoe.  They labels are based in Africa, and this was their first time showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The looks were unique, and we love to see emerging and up and coming designers featured at New York Fashion Week.


Written by Shalanda Turner, Style Editor


Ticket to the Tents: Day 4 Spring 2015 NYFW Trend Report

Featuring Fashion Shenzen, Nanette Lepore, Victoria Beckham, Czar by Cesar Galindo, Custo Barcelona, Vivienne Tam, DVF and Parkchoonmoo

Every fashion week, something is bound to go wrong! From losing equipment to someone being sick, and this fashion week is no exception! Our team is definitely being run through the ringer, working out technical difficulties with our laptops and  our website, but we won’t let that stop us! It’s all a part of the experience of covering New York Fashion Week. Even with our technical difficulties the team wrapped up Day 4 in one piece!


In addition to the regularly scheduled designers that show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, IMG works to bring unique shows to the venue. Fashion Shenzen is always a delight, as it features fashion designers from China.  Fashion is a universal industry, and it’s amazing to see styles and design aesthetics from around the world! The Fashion Shenzen designers featured looks made in shiny and sheer fabrics. They also favored highly embellished gowns with lots of sequins.

Fashion Shenzen Spring 2015 NYFW

Fashion Shenzen Photo 1- Spring 2015 NYFW


Custo Barcelona and DVF took us to shorter lengths with miniskirts and above the knee dresses respectively, while Nanette Lepore and Victoria Beckham featured ankle-length styles.


Custo Barcelona featured abstract prints and perforated fabrics. Vivienne Tam incorporated palm tree prints into her collection, continuing the popular tropical prints theme we’ve been seeing over the last couple days. Cesar Galindo used metallic and sequin fabrics in his collection.

DVF Spring 2015 NYFW



All white ensembles are still popular going into Day 4. Nanette Lepore featured a few all white looks, but the favored color for her collection was definitely yellow! Yellow shoes, yellow-based prints, and solid yellow dresses, Nanette let us know that yellow will be trending for Spring, and she’s not the only one. Cesar Galindo also featured yellow in his collection, along with greens, pastel oranges, and metallic.  Victoria Beckham’s spring collection was heavy on the tans & neutral colors black and white. Victoria even featured an oxblood hue that is typically reserved for Fall!

Nanette Lepore - Spring 2015 NYFW (2)

Victoria Beckham Fashion GPS


For the most part, there’s been 2 big trends for hair: Braids or slicked back and loose. I think braids will always be a popular choice for Spring & Summer!


The bigger the better! The Czar collection featured bold, colorful necklaces that would make the wearer the center of attention in any room.

Written by Shalanda Turner, Style Editor

Ticket To The Tents: Day 1 Spring 2015 NYFW Trend Report

(Featuring Nicholas K, Richard Chai, BCBGMaxAzria, Tadashi Shoji, Marissa Webb, CuteCircuit, & Desigual)

It’s September! Which means we’ve arrived at another New York Fashion Week. If you’re like us, this makes September one of our favorite months of the year! In fact, we’d go so far as to agree with Instagrammer, Candy Price Pratt that “September is the January of Fashion!” New York Fashion Week officially kicked off yesterday with designers presenting their Spring 2015 Collections. The team was on the scene covering the first day of New York Fashion Week.  Representing this year, we have Fashion Mingle Style Editor, Shalanda Turner, Videographer, Michelle Elise Harding, Photographer Jane Kratochvil, and Contributors, Otaymah Bonds, Heather Petrey & Jeanine Valiente.


Nicholas K kicked off Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in their usual 9am spot on day one inside the tents.  While the draping, layers and loose silhouettes are not new to Nicholas K, their introduction of a pretty, pastel teal green was a change from the browns, tans and whites.  We’re hoping this color is a fixture in all the runways for Spring.

Nicholas K - Jane Kratochvil

PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Kratochvil,

And continuing with pastels, it appears that pastels will continue to dominate next Spring as they did this year.  Lubov and Max presented a collection for BCBGMaxAzria that included pastel pinks & blue along with a ton of white and off-white garments.  However, some designers opted to include pops of bright colors in their collections. Richard Chai featured a bold lime-yellow color for spring, and Desigual, known for bold and colorful prints did not disappoint.

Desigual - Jane Kratochvil

PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Kratochvile, 


In contrast to Desigual’s bold use of prints in every garment, most of the runways were absent of significant amounts of prints, with the designers opting for solid colors to convey their visions. If there were prints, they were mosaic and abstract in nature, versus typical floral prints that usually dominate for Spring.

BCBGMaxAzria - Jane Kratochvil

PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Kratochvil,
Long is the new black! Tadashi Shoji favored knee-length dresses and full-length gowns.  BCBGMaxAzria also went long for spring with wide-leg trousers and ankle-length skirts.   Marissa Webb featured super-chic outerwear pieces for spring from ankle-length trench coats, to peplum wind-breakers. There’s a lot of material on the runways for Spring.  Long and free flowing fabrics that offer tons of movement for the wearer.

Tadashi Shoji - Jane Kratochvil
PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Kratochvil,

Wearable Technology is all the rage right now and CuteCircuit has taken the world by storm with their technological clothing innovations.  Their collection for Spring, featured cool, digital enhancements that were incorporated into the clothes, shiny and glittery fabrics, and even digitally enhanced bathing suites! Forget wearable tech bracelets, we want the clothes version!

Written by: Shalanda Turner, Style Editor.