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Why designers shouldn’t do too much, too soon

Adam Jagger is buying consultant for Lambert’s Yard, a design, fashion and lifestyle retail and events space that will open in Leeds next month

Adam Jagger

Adam Jagger

Our hope for the Lambert’s Yard opening in Leeds this October is that it will become a unique place for emerging designers to showcase their work alongside some of the most established brands in the industry.

We have teamed up with the Centre for Fashion Enterprise to create the Leeds Fashion Initiative, which aims to provide strategic business advice to emerging local designers.

This partnership enabled me to host one of CFE’s monthly networking meet-ups for fashion entrepreneurs on September 9. I was joined by my friend Paul Young, director of London-based menswear distribution agency Concrete Studio, who was on hand to share his knowledge and experience of fashion wholesale and the most successful routes to market.

My own background includes buying roles at Topman, Ralph Lauren and Coggles.

We explained to the audience of predominantly emerging designers that one of the biggest mistakes young designers make with their brands is to do too much too soon. A common habit is to introduce too many product categories or styles in the early days, when they should instead focus on the key categories they are known for or that best reflect their abilities.

We discussed at length the Italian footwear brand Volta, a brand we have both worked with in the past and which provides a great example of how and why to keep things focused. Volta launched in 2007 with one style of shoe and experimented with fabrics and colours in order to create diversity in its collection. There was innovation on display, but it was still easy to understand and sell as a buyer or sales agent.

In recent seasons, buying has become more category-based again; buyers are looking for designers who know their place in the market. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to diversify, but single-category collections can make designers more attractive.

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