Fashion Designer’s Resource Book is a new publication by Bloomsbury Publishing aimed at fashion students and people who want to start working in the fashion industry or want to set up their own fashion label.
It gives a good overview of the fashion industry. It’s full of images, and reads like a magazine or blog with lots of short interviews and practical tips.
The book is written by Samata Angel, an award-winning fashion designer with a strong interest in glamour, celebrity as well eco-fashion and sustainability. Samata has her own label Samata. She was Cosmopolitan magazine’s ‘Future Fashion Star of 2008’, has been named in the ‘Black Women in Europe: Power List 2010’, and was listed as one of Red Magazine’s ‘One to Watch: Top 20 women under the age of 30’ in March 2011. She was also the winner of Suzy Amis Cameron’s international dress design contest Red Carpet Green Dress.
Fashion Designer’s Resource Book is really written from Samata’s own personal perspective with a lot of practical, real life information and insights. The book is also full of pictures of Samata with models, press, celebrities and other fashion designers.
I felt the book has a very aspirational message, showing what Samata has achieved from a young age, and sharing the glamour and luxury of the fashion industry, while being realistic about the long hours and real life challenges of becoming successful in fashion. In this sense I think it is a really important book for (young) people thinking about embarking on a career in fashion.
Samata starts the book with explaining the importance of research for anybody wanting to work in fashion. And she walks the talk! Throughout the book there are loads of references, and she quotes from many different sources. Every chapter finishes with detailed notes and further (online) resources.
Fashion Designer’s Resource Book starts with an overview of the global fashion industry. From a short timeline on how fashion manufacturing became global, to fantastically detailed listings of the key fashion countries and fashion events, and one-page case studies of the various fashion capitals around the globe, each with their own histories and trends.
The second chapter ‘venturing in’ gives an overview of various roles and career paths, the differences between internships and work placements, and how to secure one. I liked the short case studies of the career paths of Vera Wang and Marc Jacobs in there.
Samata manages to combine very practical info with the bigger questions (‘what does ‘making it’ mean to you?) The chapter is finished with a thorough list of all the main fashion colleges across the world.
The third chapter discusses working as a fashion designer in particular, focusing on types of designers, the skills you need, and the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a designer. It gives an overview of fashion types, fashion markets and trends.
It also discusses the practical side of making and the creative process too.
Good advice for anybody starting out: start small! Editing with a critical eye is one of the most important things you can do, as you can invest in quality and deliver your strongest work.
Also included are a couple of pages on how to protect your work and what to do if your ideas are stolen.
The fourth chapter is called ‘finding your feet’, which focuses on the real dilemma of how to stand out and making a name for yourself without losing the sense of who you are. Samata gives some really practical and real life tips about how to deal and survive the fashion crowd here! With lots of networking tips and pics of Samata with famous people!
The 5th chapter discusses how to become a fashion entrepreneur, and starts with a great visual overview of a business plan, followed by a practical description of each part of your plan.
There is a rather good and realistic overview about money and how to get investment, and the (limited) funding that’s available in the UK with listing of some startup resources. It talks candidly about why funding is hard to get, what investors are really looking for, and alternative forms of finance such as crowd funding and factoring.
Samata’s own experience is really shining through here, and I like the honesty, but also the practical and diverse financial options she shares here.
This long chapter also then deals with an overview of how to get your products made, and some tips on how to manage production and quality control. It would probably have been helpful if this had been discussed in more detail, as it is often such an issue for small fashion brands.
The next 3 chapters deal with various aspects of marketing and selling your fashion. From trade shows and catwalk shows, and how to organise your own and how to deal with models and photographers, to PR and sponsorship, reaching celebrities and magazines, social media, blogs, branding, to selling and finding the right retailers and stockists to how to approach and work with them. Samata gives a quick overview here of all the options with some practical tips.
I like the inclusion of chapter 9 on ‘responsible design’, one of Samata’s own passions. And although the chapter is only 7 pages long she shares much of her knowledge about the topic.
The last chapter on ’emotional wellbeing’ shares some personal wisdom and tips on how to stay motivated, overcome creative block and cope with stress. A topic you don’t find often discussed in a fashion book, but very essential indeed.
She even includes some of her favourite music playlist to calm her down or inspire her! And that pretty much sums up this inspirational and realistic book and Samata’s personal approach.
Fashion Designer’s Resource Book is great for people thinking about the fashion industry and who want a quick, very personal introduction to the fashion industry, including the glamour, fame, hard work and sensibilities that requires.