Nila Palacios, owner of Nila Palacios Latin Fashion, begins with introspective questions directed at aspiring fashion designers to help identify strengths, weaknesses, a motto, and specific goals. While encouraging designers to stay true to their individuality, passions, and objectives, Palacios provides step-by-step guidance that teaches specifically how to:
• Find inspiration and bring it to life through designs;
• Look for trends and colors and incorporate them into a collection;
• Design sketches, make a pattern, and select and cut fabrics;
• Match fabrics with specific styles;
• Conduct market research, identify a target market, and find a niche; and
• Compile a collection, market a product, choose models, and organize a show.
Fashion with Passion provides clear, focused guidance for anyone interested in breaking into the fashion industry and achieving their dreams.
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Read an Excerpt
Fashion with Passion
A Guide to Succeeding in the World of Design
By Nila Palacios
Partridge PublishingCopyright © 2014 Nila Palacios
All rights reserved.
Becoming A Fashion Designer
For me, becoming a Fashion Designer turned out to be one of the most exciting careers I could have imagined, as it continuously challenges you to the maximum – creativity becomes fluid and your thinking becomes sharper, you become a problem solver as people come to you with their fashion problems and they expect/demand that you to solve them for them. You also become a champion, when seeing your designs on a client – it is this end result that completes you and keeps on completing you!
Here is where your love to serve others is proven to be effective as ultimately you want to make people feel good and look good, you want to share your visions with them and help them to bolster their confidence and for them to feel happy in their own skin.
This chapter will help you to dig right inside your core for the answers to such questions as why you want to become a fashion designer, what you can give back to others while fulfilling your career, what drives you and what makes you want to create beautiful pieces that will be worn by many, and if you really have what it takes to be a fashion designer.
All the answers we are seeking are there inside us, we just have to find them and once we understand our purpose, our path, the rest will fall into place.
So welcome to this journey and enjoy every minute of it.
1.1 Why do you want to become a Fashion designer?
We all have dreams in life; some dream of greatness and fame, others dream of being the best at something, but dreams are just dreams if we do not do anything about them, they have to become goals. Dreaming of being the next Coco Channel or Giorgio Armani will be just a passing fancy if we don't take the step and enroll in a Fashion school and learn the skills of the job. However, we have to follow what our heart dictates and not always what society tells or expects us to do.
We need to dig right inside of us to find the spark, the passion and also the reason why we want to become Fashion designers; as you read this chapter please take the time evaluate yourself – your strengths, your weaknesses, your love for the art of Fashion design. Scrutinize yourself before you make the decision.
1.2 What is your motto?
Finding why you want to be a fashion designer is very important. My motto is to make curvaceous women feel beautiful; it is as simple as that!
What would you be able to give back to your clients?
Why should they wear and buy your clothes? When you are clear on what is it that you will do for others then you have conquered one of the biggest milestones in the world of Fashion.
There are lots of designers in the market, but it is the minority who has actually penetrated the masses, you need to find that uniqueness that will make you stand out from the rest.
My uniqueness is Latin (South and Central American) inspired clothes fused with rhythms that make women want to dance when they wear my designs.
So find your motto, your sweet spot – find what makes you tick and will make your future clients happy enough to be your walking and talking mannequins.
1.3 What drives you?
Your drive has to be connected to your motto, except that here you need to understand the driving force behind you becoming a Fashion designer, is it passion for clothes? Passion for money, is it fame? Is it recognition?
What drives you will ultimately determine the level of success you can expect in your business, the amount of hours you will dedicate to your work, the level of detail you will be managing in order to deliver the best to your clients.
If you want recognition, you will work harder on quality and the uniqueness of your designs plus the level of service you provide to your customers – these details will win you clients referring you to their friends and their friends to their friends;
If you want money then you may want to think of a faster way to sell your designs, maybe using the Internet and have a bigger production process behind you supporting you with the workmanship; here, quality is at stake, and you won't be as exclusive as the first driver; however, the money will flow in faster and on a bigger scale;
If you want fame (which is in reality completely different to recognition) then your approach should be totally different as you may have to do something super extraordinary to attain that; for example, arranging glamorous Fashion shows, where you can invite celebrities and big players from the world of your Local Fashion scene. Such an approach will require investment in location(s), marketing, models, makeup, etc.
When I first started my own label, Nila Palacios Latin Fashion, I confess that I didn't know much about business; however, what was driving me was the desire of being known in the local Fashion scene. I approached a friend of mine who is well-regarded Flamenco dancer and I pitched my idea to her. She loved it and immediately told me she wanted in – the two of us worked hard for four months to come up with my first set of designs called 'The Flamenco Collection', but what made it different? The simple fact that we combined catwalk with Flamenco dance, the show was a complete success; we had 300 people attending our show including media, we came out in the national Newspapers, Magazines and on national T.V, so I achieved what I wanted, to be recognized as the first and (then) only Latina Fashion Designer in Malaysia.
1.4 What would you like to achieve as a Fashion designer?
You need to ask yourself this question—what is my goal or objective(s) in becoming a designer?
If creating your own label is one of your objectives then you need to start from scratch, we will cover this topic later on in further chapters, for now you need to ask yourself questions such as 'Do I want to be a designer who owns a boutique, a designer who commands my own fashion empire, or do I want to work for a big brand and then create my own label after I have acquired the necessary experience?'
Many young designers, following graduation, often decide to initially work for big names and get as much experience as possible to be able to start their own fashion label. Some never reach that goal and instead enjoy an alternate role within the industry itself.
Asking yourself these questions and physically writing it down will help you to have a clear vision of what is it you want to achieve in the future after you have completed your studies.
1.5 Are you the designer material?
We all have a bit of creative designer in us, but the reality is not all of us are designer material. Sometimes we act on our impulses and make decisions that eventually we regret and that can end up changing the course of our professional life.
When I was a child I loved animals, especially dogs, I took care of them, I bathed them and when they got sick I tried to heal them back to health, so I decided to study veterinary practice. I wanted to be a vet because I loved animals and I thought I was good at it, reality hit me when I entered the Faculty – I had to study for long hours, I read books that I didn't understand, I tried my best but I failed miserably because that wasn't my destiny or my true calling; I gave up that career before it took my life.
I give this example because I have seen many young would be' Fashion designers that go to school every day, they spend lots of money in fabrics, books, school fees and others materials only to find out that that wasn't really what they wanted to do. Whilst attending Fashion College I saw so many fellow students being frustrated with their career choice and abandoning the course just half way – it was heart breaking to see this, but reality is what touches us when we are following the wrong path.
Before you even consider going further with your decision, test yourself and make sure that this is what you really want to do. Clarity leads to power.
1.6 How can you help others with your career?
Fashion design is not all about successfully producing clothes, it's also about what can you do to help others while you are on your way to the top; looking out for the people around you is what makes you get ahead of your competitors, because fashion is like a relay race – you pass the objective around until it reaches the last racers, who then delivers it to the finish line. What I am trying to say here is that if you have a team behind you (you can't do this alone!), take care of them and they will take care of you (don't take care of them, and they can bring you down).
Example: You design the garment and source the right fabric that you want that piece to be made from, then you write down all the details and pass it to your tailor, seamstress or workmanship people who then will pass it to the pattern maker, who will give the pattern to the cutters and the cutters to the seamstress. These people are your assets, if they are not happy with the way you treat them or talk to them or even how much you pay them, they won't deliver a great job. You are only as good as your sewers, a big lesson learnt by myself early on in my career. You need to help them when they need you and make sure you are attentive to their needs, if they ask questions about the design, answer politely and with respect – after all this is your future you are making here.
The fact remains, there are lots of big clothing brands that exploit their workers and don't care about them at all. As a new fashion entrepreneur you have to be humble, kind and compassionate; take this with you all the time and wear it as your coat of arms.
Another aspect to consider is the environment and you can guarantee (more so now than ever before) that along the way, if somebody can find a reason to halt your path to success they will. Use only materials and fabrics that are not from animals especially endangered species and neither use processes that harm the environment, remember we are a big fish in a small pond and big brother/sister is watching us all the time. You don't want to upset PETA or other environmental watchdogs, in fact you can get their support by creating campaigns that help protect the environment and the animals that are under threat.
1.7 Will you be able to increase the self esteem of your clients
In this world of trend and fashion, there are stereotypes of how a woman (and man) should look, how many kilos they should weigh, what creams she should use or what brand of clothes and accessories they should wear – just so we are not left out of society's reach. We all know that beautiful models are just the minority and not the majority of the population; however, the Fashion world has become a killer of curves! Real women have curves, a little bit here and little bit there, sometimes they have a little bit more in places they wish they had none but that is life – we are all humans and we have different shapes and type of bodies, there is a place for each of us within society and fashion.
Many fashion designers emphasize on a slim body and leave out the bigger sizes. This is a big mistake as women with curves are the ones with the money as well. In my whole career as a Fashion designer, all I hear is the complaints of frustrated women who cannot find clothes in the shops that can fit them and if they fit, they are ugly and of very bad design. I confess to following that road too, where all my clothes were for the young and slim women; when I started listening to the market, my business turned around.
Give your clients what they want and what they need and you will have new clients coming to you to get their problems solved.
Remember that, as a Fashion designer, you become a problem solver and a solution provider; try not to fall in a single category (i.e. shape) as everyone has the right to look good, you will be appreciated if you appreciate real people.
1.8 Would you design with your heart or with your head?
This touches the previous subject, as when you design with your heart you typically hear the voice and needs of the market, what is lacking in the market and where can you bridge a gap or even a big hole.
I love dancing and when I started going frequently to Latin clubs in Malaysia I noticed women loved to dance salsa and they did it very well, but there was a gap that I saw immediately – Latin dance clothes; I came out with my second collection called The Salsa Collection, and it was an instant hit as all the ladies wanted to feel the part when they went out.
I designed the dresses to flow and move while the wearer was dancing, and I chose fabrics, which didn't stick to their body in the heat. I was right to come out with that collection as I sold all my dresses in the Dance Festivals and fairs. I followed my heart and intuition and I hit the target.
So listen to what is being said, listen to what people want and what they can't find, study your market and then assess what you think you can do in order to transform them into a solution(s) for that market.
1.9 What kind of design will you do?
We have seen many designers doing a little bit of the same over and over again, but where do you want to stand? Do you want to follow or lead the crowd? Do you want to be a trendsetter or a trend follower? The answers lie inside YOU, as when you do your market research you have to find the gaps and bridge them.
Will you design for children, for women or for men, or all? Will you design for professional ladies or would you design for social occasions and what kind of clothing will it be – Cocktail dresses? Dance wear? Party dresses? Beach wear? Casual wear? Eveningwear? Business wear? These questions are strategically important to consider before you start your brand and create your identity as once you have created it there is no going back unless you decide you want to start expanding your ranges; however, then you risk losing your niche in the market place.
1.10 Where to study?
Have you considered where will you take your Fashion diploma or degree? Which questions should you ask before you decide to enroll in any particular school(s)? There are lots of great fashion colleges in Malaysia and Singapore; I know this because these two countries have been home to me for the last past few years. How many are near to where you live in the world? Can you do a course online?
These are the questions you should ask yourself and write down in a piece of paper or notebook.
· What kind of qualification am I looking for?
· Do I want to be a patterns maker?
· Do I want to be a Fashion buyer?
· Do I want to be a Stylist?
· Do I want to be a Fashion marketer?
· Do I want to be a Sketch drawer
All you need to do is to find what is it that you want to do and search for the right course for you, remembering that these courses are costly and if you don't like what you are doing the chances are that you will not succeed and that is a bitter experience to go through as you will be wasting both time and money.
1.11 Do you want to be a designer, a buyer or a boutique owner?
Many fashion students dream to have their own brand or their own label, some end up working as tailors, working from home and then once they have enough cash they open a small boutique inside a mall or even in a residential area; some succeed, others close after the third year of operating the business. I have seen many designers, young and old, doing that and I have seen the pain in their eyes, as they feel discouraged because their dreams have become quashed.
I must confess I have been there and I have done that, but the experience you gain is priceless as you learn the ropes of the fashion industry, you started looking for solutions to problems that appear from nowhere and become savvy in the art of the business of Fashion, you learn to fall and to get up without caressing your bruised ego, you learn to put a happy face when all you want to do is to scream and run away from everything.
The world of Fashion is filled with tough people. Coco Channel started with nothing. She left a legacy behind her because she didn't give up when things went wrong for her; she kept going and kept reinventing herself over and over again. She set a trend and that trend was so much followed and even copied by many of her competitors, she succeeded because she was driven, passionate, persistent and unique.
Be that type of Designer, be all you want to be and follow your dreams, never get dismayed when things don't go your way, instead find the way around it. The world belongs to those who persevere, when you see that something doesn't work out the way you wanted just step back and think on a different approach. Reinvent yourself. The definition of madness is doing the same thing all the time and expecting different results – always be open to experiment and try new things, write down a plan in order to see what strategies are available for you and where/what will can focus on, never leave things to the imagination or memory as you will forget and eventually won't do it!
I learnt all these things the hard way, but once I decided that I wanted to achieve specific goals during the month I became more organized, focused and clear. You will see instant results once you do this and follow your plan.
Excerpted from Fashion with Passion by Nila Palacios. Copyright © 2014 Nila Palacios. Excerpted by permission of Partridge Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents Acknowledgments, vi,
CHAPTER 1 Becoming A Fashion Designer, 2,
CHAPTER 2 Looking For Inspiration, 12,
CHAPTER 3 Trends And Colours, 22,
CHAPTER 4 Drawing And Sketching, 34,
CHAPTER 5 Pattern Making And Fabric Cutting, 44,
CHAPTER 6 Fabric Choices, 57,
CHAPTER 7 Market Research, 62,
CHAPTER 8 Finding Your Niche, 74,
CHAPTER 9 How To Compile A Portfolio To Present In A Job, 84,
CHAPTER 10 Compiling Your First Collection, 88,
CHAPTER 11 Setting Up Your Brand, 93,
CHAPTER 12 Choosing Your Models, 123,
CHAPTER 13 Organizing your first fashion show, 128,
CHAPTER 14 Interview With Bon Zainal Harum, 138,