It was a pleasure for us to be a part of October’s Fashion Forward Dubai (FFWD) event, where our co-founder Viola Vitiello participated in a d3 fashion talk panel, Manufacturing and Outsourcing: Global Market Trends. Along with Riccardo Vannetti of Pitti Immagine and Tahrun Pahwa of New Times Group India, Viola discussed today’s global manufacturing and outsourcing landscape and how young designers can best approach it. Barbara Trebitsch of Domus Academy served as a skillful moderator. Here are a few highlights from the exchange.
Advice for young designers who are beginning their careers
When a young designer or new brand is just getting started in the industry, they need to quickly identify and tackle their greatest challenge or obstacle. It might be difficult finding the fabrics, challenges creating the sample, or constraints on producing what they want within budget. Finding an agent or a person who can guide you toward a ready-made system is key. If you have no contacts, going to China and trying to do it all on your own is nearly impossible. Instead, you need to build collaborative and enduring relationships with people you can trust and who understand you.
The importance of collaboration
As Viola pointed out, one of the most difficult things for a new designer or brand is to find an appropriate supplier that is able to execute their vision on a technical level. It’s important, especially at the very beginning, to develop a mutual understanding between the designer and the supplier around important factors such as material, fitting, and workmanship. After a strong relationship is established, cooperation becomes easier on a regular basis. Any resource or service that can help young designers navigate this initial hurdle is valuable and worth exploring.
Working effectively with the manufacturer
This topic is near and dear to Viola’s heart. She travels to China three to four times a year, and she works with fifteen to twenty factories there. In her experience, each country is different. Everyone has different standards and lives in different societies. But there are no unpleasant situations when collaborating with an overseas partner. It’s simply different from what we are used to. And it’s essential to develop a close relationship with your manufacturing partners from the start of your career. When the relationship is mutual, there is nothing to worry about. The manufacturer wants to support the designer as they grow.
Interested to see the full conversation? You can view a complete recording of the d3 fashion talk on Manufacturing and Outsourcing in which Viola participated on YouTube.