The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition - Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business

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Mary Gehlhar, author, industry authority, and consultant to hundreds of designers, including Zac Posen, Twinkle by Wenlan, Rebecca Taylor, and Cloak, gives readers behind-the-scenes insights and essential business information on creating and ...
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Mary Gehlhar, author, industry authority, and consultant to hundreds of designers, including Zac Posen, Twinkle by Wenlan, Rebecca Taylor, and Cloak, gives readers behind-the-scenes insights and essential business information on creating and sustaining a successful career as an independent designer. 

With advice from fashion luminaries including Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Cynthia Rowley, Diane von Furstenberg, Richard Tyler, and top executives from Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York, this fully updated and revised edition of The Fashion Designer Survival Guide addresses the latest trends in apparel and accessories, the newest designers, an updated introduction, and a new foreword by Diane von Furstenberg, Designer and President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

The Fashion Designer Survival Guide provides the necessary tools to get a fashion line or label up and moving on the right track, including: 
  • How to create a viable business plan
  • Figuring out how much money you need, where and how to get it, and how to make it last, including the latest on private equity
  • The best sources for fabric and materials
  • Navigating the pitfalls of production both at home and abroad
  • Marketing, branding, and getting the product into the stores and into the customer’s closets
  • Romancing the press, dressing celebrities, and creative publicity techniques
  • Producing a runway show that will get results

Product Details

Paperback: 304 pages


    Editorial Reviews


    “For anyone interested in being a fashion designer or working in the fashion industry, The Fashion Designer Survival Guide is the quintessential must-read.” —Tim Gunn, Bravo's Project Runway

    “For anyone seeking to compete and succeed in our crowded and highly competitive industry, Mary’s comprehensive advice is required reading.” —Peter D. Arnold, President, Cynthia Rowley

    “It takes more then just a creative idea to succeed as a fashion designer. The Fashion Designer Survival Guide will help bring ideas to the marketplace.  It is a comprehensive overview of the business side of fashion that offers detailed practices and specific tools that are required to become a working designer.” —Steven Kolb, Executive Director, Council of Fashion Designers of America

    About the Author

    As the Fashion Division Director of Gen Art, Mary Gehlhar has worked closely with up-and-coming designers to start, operate, and grow design businesses. She has lent her expertise to the Rising Star Award committee at Fashion Group International, the Pratt Institute Fashion Jury, and the Open Call panel for the Miramax/Bravo show Project Runway. Mary has been interviewed by the New York Times, British Vogue, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and E! Style channel.

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    442 of 454 people found the following review helpfulBy Magicians_assistant on August 29, 2010
    Format: Paperback
    I have a small fashion label that launched last year. To begin, I invested approximately $15,000 in the sewing, fabrics and labor, and another $5,000 in advertising, most of which I do myself. I do not employ a production manager as is insisted on in this book. I do not have a twenty step process that requires a dozen middle-people and unneeded management. It is me- the designer, a contract sewing company and me and my husband doing the advertising. It is hard work, but the point is that doing this, we make very good profits even the first year. If I employed this author's advice, I would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (which I do not have) on pretty much nothing. My clothing is sold in the US, UK and by Fall of 2012 we plan to have shops in Panama and Rio De Janeiro.

    A few notes:
    I can't sew. I hate sewing. I have a good eye for design and design what I think are great clothes. Others think so too and they buy them.
    I am not an artist. I have never taken an art class. I use templates and draw clothing over them.

    Point is, you don't have to be a seamstress or an artist, so don't let that scare you.

    I basically have no clue what I am doing- and I did it anyway, SUCCESSFULLY. You do NOT need middle-men. You do NOT need to be John Galliano. You do NOT need to have your fashions on the catwalk at Fashion Week in Paris. You DO need to work your ass off. You DO need to be certain that this is what you want to do, because the time/effort/money investment does grow and eat up your resources, but to begin, it's not nearly as cost intensive as this book claims.

    This book is for those who want to be the next Calvin Klein/Ana Sui/Dolce & Gabana/etc. It's for those that want to take the long way.

    My advice to you is this:
    Don't let not knowing what you're doing stop you from doing anything. Have you seen the crap on runways? They don't know what they're doing either.
    63 Comments  Was this review helpful to you?  YesNo
    81 of 86 people found the following review helpfulBy clothing design entrepreneur on December 28, 2005
    Format: Paperback
    Mary Gehlhar's book is outstanding. It has depth and breath. I really enjoyed all the quotes and pearls of wisdom provided by so many lovely people in the apparel industry. This book covers everything - from concept and design to wholesale price points to retail product placement. This book shows you "the what" and "the how" like no other apparel industry book has.

    What I especially enjoyed learning about was the legal information. Thank you Charles Klein for you saved me much heartache that comes with losing your intellectual property. Now I can work with investors wisely for you have banished the only fear I have and that is losing control of my intellectual property as I lose some corporate control due to investors' terms. This is what I read books for - to gain knowledge and insight from people who have done it before me, do it better than me, and write it down to share with us curious souls and thirsty minds.

    The other aspect of this book I found to be stellar and not noted in any other fashion industry book (and I read them all) is what Mary Gehlhar says about patternmaking and samplemaking. She states both sides of the argument, doing it yourself and others doing it for you, articulately and succinctly. I applaud you Mary Gehlhar. You wrote a great book.


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