HOW I STARTED MY OWN FASHION LABEL
I've got some exciting news that some of you might already have heard of: I've launched my own fashion label! The label is called Autrement Clothing and focusses on luxury ready-to-wear streetwear fashion.
Ever since a kid, I've been interested in fashion. Clothing, sneakers, accessories, they all fascinate me and I've always found great pleasure in trying to create cool looks and dressing well. It was therefore a very cool coincidence that I got scouted as a model and got the chance to work within an industry that I've got such interest in.
“I've always found great pleasure in trying to create cool looks and dressing well.”
As most of you know, I'm a business-oriented guy. Both my parents are entrepreneurs and I was born with entrepreneurial genes. I've got a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Strategic Entrepreneurship. I've always had a dream to start my own business and am always looking for opportunities. During my first few years of modeling, I got a great behind the scenes look of some of the biggest fashion brands worldwide. I learned so many things that go on behind the scenes at fashion labels, that I didn't know about before. I was very intrigued by all of it and got inspired to combine my passion for fashion and entrepreneurship and start my own fashion label.
But then the hard part comes. Having a goal or dream is easy, everybody has those. However, turning your goals or dreams into reality is a whole different cup of tea. It's risky and takes courage to actually start working and investing money into your own business, not knowing if it's ever actually going to pay off. However, as some people say "you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the things you did do'' and I'm a big believer of that statement.
But where to start? I started out together with one of my best friends. We shared the dream of working for ourselves and decided to pursue this venture together. First thing we did was trying to come up with a name. We knew the kind of fashion we wanted to create: luxury ready-to-wear fashion, using only organic, high-quality fabrics. But how do you pick a name in an era where almost every name or domain name is already in use? Well, it takes a lot of time and patience. We've been brainstorming about names for around 2 months and hundreds of names were taken into consideration. Finally, we came up with Autrement Clothing. Autrement is a french word for different and also sounds quite fancy. We believe every single person is unique, therefore different. Our vision was born: Don't be afraid to be yourself, don't be afraid to be different. Be Autrement.
“Don't be afraid to be yourself, don't be afraid to be different. Be Autrement.”
The next part was figuring out what kind of fashion to create. Both me and my best friend had no prior experience with fashion design, we simply knew what we liked and had an idea of the type of fashion we wanted to create. Since we only invested our own capital, without external investments, we were not in a position where we could fulfill the minimum quantities of big factories. We had to search for a partner that allowed us to order in lower quantities and eventually found one. However, the design possibilities at these kind of companies are limited in terms of colors and design elements and the cost of production per item are super high compared to bigger factories with high minimum order quantities. Taking the limited available capital into consideration, we had no other option but this company and decided to create a minimalistic first collection with basic colors, focussed on high-quality, logo centered items. It's better to start and grow than not start at all.
Like I said before, both me and my friend had no design experience. Hours and hours of youtube tutorials followed. Both designing as a whole as more detailed instructions on how to use Adobe Illustrator to turn your sketches into usable digital design. It took months and a lot of perseverance to learn all of these design elements.
We were finally able to design our first collection and sent the order out to the factory. It took a few weeks for the first shipment to arrive. Overly excited we opened the package, only to find out that the factory had messed up most of the collection both size-wise as the embroidery designs. They were all over the place. Crooked, off-centered embroideries, sizes that were completely off. It was horrible. Luckily, they recognized their mistakes and we were able to send the collection back in exchange for new items. However, that took another few weeks, weeks we lost because we couldn't drop the collection at the time we had planned.
Crooked, off-centered embroideries, sizes that were completely off. It was horrible.
After a few weeks of waiting, the collection was finally delivered. This time, the factory had done an amazing job. Everything was right, no more mistakes in embroideries and sizes. Fabrics were great, fits were great, embroideries were great; we were happy! However, my friend and business partner was starting to have second thoughts about being an entrepreneur. He was also still studying and running a business took more time, effort and capital than he expected beforehand. The realization that it would only take more time, effort and capital to try and grow the business made him decide he didn't want to pursue his own company anymore and rather focus on his study. It was me by myself from that point.
In the time that we were waiting for the collection to arrive, I made a webshop that was already ready to be launched. So a few days later I dropped the collection and the response was great! People were digging the designs and loved the fits and quality of fabrics. The collection is not very extended yet, but that was because we just wanted to launch, knowing we didn't have enough capital to drop a huge collection yet. Like I said, better to start and grow than not start at all. And I started!
Spring/Summer '20 Drop
After this Fall/Winter 19/20 drop I found an investor willing to invest into the brand. We were planning on dropping a more extended collection for the Spring/Summer '20 season with a lot of super cool, more outspoken designs and colors. I had been designing for months. I've been working for months. Everything was ready and the order was already at the factory, but then corona happened.. Almost every country went on lockdown, stores were closing and people were not spending any money. Luckily we were just in time to cancel the order and postpone our second drop. We waited a few weeks until making a final decision, but finally decided not to pursue the Spring/Summer '20 collection and rather focus on Fall/Winter 20/21. So for now, months of work gone with the wind and no new items for sale. We have restocked our Never Out of Stock items, so those are still for sale, but new items will come with our Fall/Winter 20/21 drop. And you better believe it's going to be worth the wait..
I had been designing for months. I've been working for months. Everything was ready and the order was already at the factory, but then corona happened..
It's been quite the road to launching my own fashion label. It took about a full year to actually being able to launch a collection. Months of work had to be done before actually launching products. I started out with my best friend. but ended pursuing this dream by myself. It took hard work, it took patience, it took perseverance. But I know it's going to be worth it, it's going to pay off. Coronavirus may have thrown a spanner in the works regarding our Spring/Summer '20 collection, but it's only made me more motivated to create an even better Fall/Winter collection. It's going to be worth the wait and you better believe that!