Earlier this month the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, descended on Central Saint Martins to give some no-crap advice to aspiring fashion designers. Namely, stop dreaming about having your own brand and get a job. This is a woman who's helped Alexander Wang, Rodarte and Proenza Schouler to succeed, so she knows what she's talking about… Here's a breakdown of what she said.
One of the most important things to do? Get a job, any job. "Whether it’s working as a designer or working in a restaurant and then doing your own thing in your own time, it’s a reality of life. In the end it’s going to be helpful to you and so many others."
She also advised students to think very carefully before setting up their own label, as most of them fail. "I do think there is a tradition in England, that you can do anything with nothing. The only thing I worry a little bit about, going straight from school to starting your own business, is not that many succeed… I personally would advise you to think carefully before you start your own business, and consider possibly working for a designer or a company whose work you admire. It’s not just about one road."
For those who do decide to set up their own company, Wintour advised teaming up with someone else. "It’s important to have someone to talk to and discuss everything with and bounce ideas off. I have not seen too many successful designers who’ve managed alone, without their business partner."
Finally, when you reach a level where you're starting to splash cash around promoting your collections, don't waste it on a runway show. "Please listen to me when I say: an interesting creative presentation is just as effective as a fashion show… I see people who are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for fashion shows, which I simply don’t think is necessary. A presentation gives us all an opportunity to meet you, rather than to go and sit in some dark room somewhere and wait for you to start, then (have) no time to say 'hello', and rush off to the next one."
So there you have it, the woman has spoken!