This Friday, well-known industry labels like Tibi, Milly and John Patrick, Huffington Post and WWD fashion writers, Parson’s faculty members, trend spotters and marketing gurus will all gather at Manhattan’s renowned Fashion Institute of Technology to discuss something they all know best: fashion “Behind The Seams.”
Working in partnership with the internationally recognized MAGIC Marketplace and MAGIC Sourcing, AFINGO.COM (the sponsor of the forum) will donate a portion of proceeds to the Save The Garment District, an organization to help preserve New York City’s vibrant, vital apparel production neighborhood and the business retail on it. Not to mention, retaining a part of the city designers desperately rely on.
I caught up with Afingo founder and CEO, Liza Deyrmenjian this week and asked her some questions regarding sustainable designer’s growth in the fashion industry. As Deyrmenjian has created the fashion industry’s first-ever online sourcing site (Afingo) offering “all skills and services of development and production,” (not to mention being a serial successful entrepreneur), we thought it only right to ask her a few questions before the show even got started.
Here’s what she had to say.
What are some common mistakes designers make?
Young designers many times don’t know who their target market is; They have not yet defined her or him.
Is it harder for a sustainable designer to launch than a non?
It is harder if you are doing it purely for the fad, meaning eco is green and “green is the new black” for some fashion designers. Unless you really care about sustainability, whether it is sustainable fabrics or environmentally sound manufacturing it won’t ring true in the marketplace. Environmentalism is attractive economically for a designer but they need to design around it, from the ground up.
When it comes to trend forecasting, how much should a designer listen and how much should they just go with their gut and design what just makes sense?
That is a great question because “listen” is the keyword. I have always believed musicians are the true poets of our time, and they interpret and share the news and events from distant locations far sooner and more meaningfully than our traditional media. Music will tell you what trend is coming. From Madonna in the 80s to Kurt Cobain and grunge in the 90s, they were famous with lace gloves and plaid flannel shirts long before masses were wearing them.
In terms of color, makeup counters give you in an instant what color forecasters charge thousands for. Makeup colors are always a season or two ahead of clothing. But a designer needn’t be shackled by trends. They should translate society into their own look and we as consumers wear their iteration.
Part of being a sustainable designer in the U.S. (for many) is manufacturing and sourcing in the U.S. Is there a large enough support system for them out there?
There is an AMAZING support system in the U.S., especially in New York City. NYC is the only city that has the entire garment center in a four block/four avenue radius. It’s incredible! You can get your patterns made at the same house as Ashley and Mary Kate from the Row. You can have your goods made at the same factory where Diane Von Furstenberg develops. Nowhere can you do that besides New York. Vancouver also has great resources and LA is particularly good for cottons and denim.
I think part of the problem is schools don’t teach enough about how to manufacture locally. That’s where people learn what to do and many kids graduate without even knowing where the garment center is. Our industry needs to work together, fostering an understanding of producing locally among the newcomers. If you are developing your line, you should not be doing it overseas for a multitude of reasons, sustainability being one of them. If you don’t know where to go email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will guide you!
On the Afingo schedule for Friday it says: “In an age when ‘going green’ is on everyone’s lips, is this just another trend or a necessary, fundamental shift in how the industry works? How can fashion as an industry make the change at a level that is more than skin-deep?” Can you talk to that?
Yes, buy American made. It is the fastest and most fashionable way you can save the planet – and your country while you’re at it. Local manufacturing provides jobs, and lowers the carbon footprint of the garment. I believe in going green whether – it is in the cloth or in the production – ideally, both. And consumers hold the power in their pocketbooks. Today more then ever if you want your dollar to matter, put your money where your beliefs are.