Budding designers and fashionistas flocked to The Porter on George Street in Bath last Friday 9 May, to gleam tips and advise from a panel of experts on business in the fashion industry.
The intimate gathering was organised as part of Bath In Fashion week, in partnership with The Business Exchange, organisers of the Business Of Fashion event.
The diverse audience were welcomed with coffee and croissants before Anita Jaynes, Director of The Business Exchange, introduced the panel, asking fashion–related questions emailed in by participants prior to the event.
Armed with pens, paper and ipads, the enraptured audience listened intently to the insightful answers from the three fashion business gurus: Graeme Fearon, A leading specialist in intellectual property and partner at Thrings Law, Jan Miller, business development consultant for the Centre for Fashion Enterprise and Andrew Carter, joint owner/director of the Liz Cox brand.
The audience took advantage of the friendly and relaxed atmosphere, asking the panel specific questions tailored to their individual interests.
The topics ranged widely from trademarking designs and resourcing, to internet marketing and financial backing. Jan offered key advice around finance: “Start-up businesses are often unfortunately under financed. You need to think about where you are going to get that initial cash injection – whoever you get it from, you will need a solid business plan, especially if you plan to get the money from your bank. Get to know your bank manager, and learn about their offerings… think about how can you make your business attractive – it is essential to get a business plan and your finances in order” said Jan Miller.
Andrew Cater agreed: “You are a business – if you look like you can handle a business, people will take you seriously. ”
As the judges got to know the audience through the questions posed, a simple show of hands illustrated the main interest of the majority of the audience. “40% of the people who put their hands up are start-ups,” observed Andrew. “As a start–up, it’s crucial you look at your value chain. Look at what costs it takes to run your business, such as mobiles, websites and materials, and work out your pricing accordingly.”
Trademarking patterns and styles was another key item on the audience’s agenda: “It is possible to protect a pattern,” Graeme Fearon continued, “but as a new business, this would not be the place to start in the early days. Although you can register a design, this comes with pros and cons – and costs. It’s good to get your name trademarked and important designs registered, but then you have to look at the cost of enforcing any legal actions against imitations. However, sometimes just the certificate is enough to deter people, and it’s good to surround yourself with these legalities. But legal rights are difficult in fashion, as what’s fashionable today isn’t tomorrow, and it could take a long time to go through the procedure of a lengthy legal suit.”
Andrew concurred: “Often it’s not worth pursuing legal action – taking it to court can be more costly in the long run, and the result (if you won) wouldn’t be worth the legal outlay. And after all, it’s the highest compliment someone can pay you if they copy your creative work!”
The two-hour event provided invaluable advice for any fashion businessmen and women to become a cut above the rest in the highly competitive industry that is fashion.
Anita from The Business Exchange said “It was great to see so many people engaged with this event. We’ve had excellent feedback so far and people are already asking if a similar workshop will form part of next year’s Bath in Fashion calendar. Watch this space!
Bath in Fashion events have now come to an end for 2014. But visit www.bathinfashion.co.uk to be kept up to date with forthcoming information for 2015 events. Bath in Fashion is run by Bath Business Improvement District in an aim to drive foot fall to the city and boost retail. Visit: www.bathbid.co.uk for more information about their work in the city.