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Drapers Next Generation: It’s tough for designers, says Oliver Spencer

Speaking at Drapers’ Next Generation Event designer Oliver Spencer said today designers face a longer wait to become established.

He told attendees at the annual event, which was held at 30 Euston Square in London today, that whereas in the past designers would spend around three years, or six seasons, being a new name, that now it will take around five years to fully establish themselves.

To do so he urged them to approach buyers out of season, when they have the time to properly look at their collections. He said: “You want to see him or her out of season. That’s when you need to stand in front of them and tell them what you are about. Then you have to work really hard, 24 hours a day.”

In the face of constrained lending from banks, he also advised fledgling designers to approach private investors. “If you are going to start a brand right now find someone who can help you who has financial motivations towards your business,” he said. “Ideally someone in the textile trade who wants to support you as a designer. There are lots of people out there like this who are willing to make small investments in things that they believe in.”

Speaking about his own menswear brand, which wholesales and retails via a website and three London stores and one in Toronto, Canada, he said: “A business is like a body. The cash flow is like the blood, it’s the one things that allows you to function as a business and pay your bills. You have to have as many different ways of catching the cash as possible. In the old days it was enough to just wholesale.”

He added that he believes stores are important for storytelling. “Clothing is only 50%. The store tells the story of the brand. I’m a big believer in shop keeping,” he said, adding that this is harder to do online.

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