Top misconceptions of lay people you wish you could correct

In the interests of keeping things light while everyone is away, Tyler wrote a post called Top economic misconceptions of lay people you wish you could correct and it gave me the idea we could do something like that too. Maybe we could even break it down, service providers could post ten things they wish they could knock out of the heads of new designers, seasoned designers could say similar things about service providers and everybody could post what they wish laymen knew about what the fashion industry. Sound fun? I’m temped to go first but that’d be no fair. Post away…

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  1. SM says:

    OK, I’ll start something.

    I wish that certain people would not think they can design, sell and market for me. I appreciate your input, if I ask for it. But seriously, for example, I don’t randomly come into your pastry shop and tell you what flour to use or what temperature to bake a muffin at. It’s a handbag or sweater and, yes you own them and wear them. And I eat pastry, doesn’t mean I know how to run a pastry shop!

    I guess it happens in all industries and I’m probably guilty of it too. Does this happen to you?

  2. Vesta says:

    I admit, I get tired of people asking me if I sew all of our products myself. I call myself a manufacturer of baby products. Does that really sound like a WAHM? If I were a man, and told you that I own a company that manufactures baby products, would you ask the same question? Didn’t think so.

  3. Lisa Bloodgood in Portland says:

    Vesta, people asking me that doesn’t bug me yet because I’m still so small and running on virtually no money. But why would I be selling stuff in my booth if I didn’t make it myself? If I were buying it from other people, I’d probably have a bigger selection of styles or fabrics or something, right?

    My uncle and his friend came over the other day and the friend said something like, oh, you’re sewing, isn’t that a lost art? What you’re wearing is sewn, hello!!!

    Other than that, I can’t think of anything.

  4. Alisa Benay says:

    Top ten things I wish the high school students who constantly contact me for interviews knew about being a fashion designer:

    1) You will most likely not become BFF’s with celebrities. You probably shouldn’t even want to.

    2) It’s a lot more blue collar than it looks from the outside. Stop being a diva. Be willing to eat lunch in the break room with the stitchers and you might actually learn something. Or at least they’ll like you and not spit on your designs.

    3) You need to know math. Really. I’m not getting kickbacks from your math teacher to say that. I’m trying to keep you from getting fired someday.

    4) You need to work for someone else before you launch your own line. Also not kidding.

    5) You need to understand pattern making. You don’t necessarily have to be good at it. But you can’t draw a skirt with no zipper opening and give that over to a pattern maker and be taken seriously. You will most likely never even get a job if you don’t show at least a basic understanding of how garments can and can not be constructed. Pattern making class may not be the most fun you’ve ever had, but don’t skip it. It took me 3 years of pattern making in school & 15 years on the job to get to the point of understanding that I am right now. And I still learn new things about pattern making all the time.

    6) Printing things on t-shirts is not fashion design. I’m not saying it’s not a possibly lucrative thing to do. But it’s not fashion design. It’s screen printing.

    7) You should learn proper spelling and punctuation. I’m stunned that you haven’t learned that already. I’m over 30 and cannot understand your text message blather.

    8) You need to be willing to work for free or for peanuts while you are in college or in your 20’s. If you are willing to do anything (including mopping the floor or fetching coffee) for a design house, you will pick up things that you wouldn’t have known outside of that opportunity. You will network with the most amazing people you may never have heard of and you may actually find a paying job.

    9) If you are hell bent on producing your own line (Someday. After you’ve worked for free. And then for someone else. Read above.), you are going to need to immerse yourself in business books. You will need to know about marketing, sales, office management, lean manufacturing practices, SEO, website development, supply chain management, employer relations, taxes, book keeping, and contract law just to name a few. You can always hire someone to do certain tasks for you, but you really need to know at least a little bit about what they are doing.

    10) You need to write a thank you letter to people who help you. Including me. I know people. Really, everyone in the fashion industry knows everyone else. Or knows someone who does. It’s just not that big of a community. We might actually help you get a job someday if you are nice.

  5. Kathleen says:

    One thing that really annoys me isn’t from consumers, it’s from the industry itself. Specifically, too many garmentos in NY still have the idea that they are the center of the universe and that you’re a no-talent hack if you’re not working there.

    NY is great to visit but there isn’t enough money to compel me to live there. I figure if you’re really good, you can live where you want and people will come to you. It’s a question of personal values. I prefer to live in podunk New Mexico with clean air, low cost of living, no crime (I think our last murder was in 2002) and ideal year round weather. I much prefer that to an overpriced, densely populated and comparatively dangerous city. Besides, like there’s no hacks there? While everyone should go to Mecca at least once in their lives, it doesn’t mean they are a no talent if they don’t live there.

  6. Miss Jess says:

    I completely agree with Kathleen on this. I love where I live – beautiful Midwestern countryside holds much more appeal for me than the time I spent in school in NY. I constantly have complete strangers who can’t sew on a button or do basic bookkeeping walk up to me and tell me I need to be living in NYC to do what I do. *Sigh*.

  7. Natasha says:

    My main one would be and this probably applies to a lot of industries is that your idea is not so unique that no one has thought of it before.

  8. Big Irv says:

    I think a common misconception amongst many people is that if you run an apparel manufacturing business, you either work in or run a sweatshop.
    I am sure everyone has heard it at some point. I am particularly sensitive because I know our facilities are air conditioned. I know most of our employees make above average wages. I know our workers are well treated and most are quite happy.

  9. dosfashionistas says:

    Ten Things I wish other people in this country understood about the clothing industry.

    1. Drawing ability has nothing to do with being a clothing designer.

    2. All designers are not: a) celebrities or b) rich. Very few are either.

    3. A designer doesn’t do it by themselves. She/he is part of a diverse team, and the other members of the team are just as critical to the success of the clothing line as the designer. (Of course, there are a few designers who need to learn this too, but they are usually very young.)

    4. Any glamour in the fashion industry is on the runway or between the pages of glossy magazines. Behind the scenes it is dirty, scruffy and often uncomfortable work. But fun.

    5. The clothing industry is peopled by a widely diverse mix of people, more so than in the general public or in most industries. I could write a small book about the people I have worked with…My sample maker was once the daughter of a man who had been tailor to the king of Austria (before WWII). Anglos are a minority, just like everybody else.

    6. Many people in the garment industry are afflicted with an addiction to fabric. Some of them enter the industry as a way of feeding this addiction or become worse as a result of it and are only able to divest themselves of great loads of fabric late in life (usually when moving into retirement living).

    7. We don’t make fashions happen. Not by what we design, try to sell you or write about. You make fashion happen by what you buy and wear. If you don’t buy it, it isn’t in fashion; no matter what the designers show or the magazines say.

    8. High fashion is meant to be art. Of course it looks strange!

    9. The buying public ought to be demanding more from the garment industry in the way of quality, sizing, variety and innovation. BUT

    10. You get what you pay for.

    Now I can’t wait to read the others! Sarah

  10. J C Sprowls says:

    Ooh! My turn:

    1. Be genuine – this offsets any multitude of sins.
    2. If you make a mistake, we’ll remember it (small community folks!); but, we’ll forgive you if you grow beyond it. We’re not beyond rubbing your nose in it from time-to-time, though!
    3. We’re not dumb. We “dumb up” because your IQ just dropped 10 points.
    4. Garmentos are business people, too. Please… we’ve heard it, already. Be genuine.
    5. Provenance bodes well for you. Learn by working for someone else – especially someone we love working with.
    6. If you’re the “real deal”, we’ll know it. Your actions and decisions speak clear volumes. Be genuine. The rest falls into place.
    7. Gossip is the life’s blood of this industry. We kvetch over coffee and great distances, transferring little bits of vital information all the time (i.e. who’s late on payments, why materials are delayed, etc.). Seriously. The inflection in our voice or the glint in our eye communes so much more than an email ever will. Get on board with it. Embrace it. It needs to be your reality, too.
    8. There’s a reason why we’re on the “inside” and you’re on the “outside”. Be genuine. We might invite you to the coffee klatch!
    9. Contrary to popular myth, your idea isn’t original – heck, it probably isn’t innovative, either. Just because the 5 or 6 stores you shop on a regular basis doesn’t have it doesn’t mean that the million other store don’t already have some history with the product or design, already. That’s not to say your idea isn’t profitable or worthy, just don’t buy into your own hype.
    10. Contrary to popular myth, you are not the only customer in our Universe and we’re not your only choice. If your behavior is intolerable, remember: we’re yentas, we’ll gossip about you, too!

  11. Karen C says:

    Some of my pet peeves have already been addressed, such as calling yourself a designer when you are a tee-shirt screenprinter, garmentos looking down their noses at you while sniffing, or having no conscious idea of garment construction or quality.

    But one of my biggest irks comes from the general public when I answer when asked that I design a line of clothing for women, and they reply “I don’t do fashion.” Yes, you do. Unless you are standing in front of me naked, you “do fashion” every time you pick out your clothes in the morning and wrap your body. So since we all “do fashion” by dressing, maybe it’s a good idea to find out what looks best on us to present our body to the public. If you can spend time researching on the best way to take care of the inside of your body, i.e. diet, doesn’t your outside deserve a little attention too?

    OK, I’m off my soapbox–for now.

  12. Rocio says:

    10 Things to remember when dealing with factories:

    1) Treat others the way you expect to be treated

    2) If we agree to take on your project, it doesn’t mean we become exclusive to you

    3) Calling to “vent” about the difficulty of being a DE is not OK…. that’s what therapysts are for

    4) We are not interested in financing your “ideas”… that’s what banks are for

    5) Reading a few books won’t make you an expert, so be smart enough to ask us when you are not sure about something….
    Pretending to “know” more than you do will only inhibit your intellectual growth

    6) A day only has 24 hours, so offering to pay double or triple won’t change the fact that some product types will take longer than others and won’t be done as fast as you would like

    7) Remember that this is a multi-cultural industry and not everyone started with English as their native language

    8) We are not OBLIGATED to work with you, so if something is not possible (because of time, quality, price)… stop telling us how “so and so” can do it and go to them instead

    9) Keep the drama where it belongs…. in your personal life

    10) Asking about ways to reduce prices is GREAT!….
    Demanding cheap import prices IS NOT!

  13. Lisa Bloodgood in Portland says:

    Well said, everyone!

    What bugs me also is people who say they can sew and really can’t. Just because you have a sewing machine and know how to sew a plain seam doesn’t mean you know how to sew. Now, I appreciate people trying to make an effort to make themselves or their friends something. But if it looks like crap and you didn’t take it apart and redo it, but instead redid part of it by hand and it’s falling apart, obviously you don’t know how to sew.

    And another thing is this…I’ve been in the SCA,, a Middle Ages and Renaissance era re-enactment group, for a long time. It’s based on a mix of real life and how it “should have been”–no plagues, etc. Most people make their garb look close to what was actually worn back then. There are a few who where fantasy costumes, pirate costumes, and things they think are historical. I don’t think they did any research. If you look at just one century, there are so many different things that you don’t need a fakey, hokey variation. That’s the part that bugs me, not looking vaguely historical.

  14. I am a custom Shirt-maker and proud of it…heck during busy times I even employ a small “staff”…so I hope my comments are relevant here.

    — Yes, this is a “real job”.

    — No, I will NOT do your alterations.

    — Yes, the price is correct. Not $25 per shirt, $250. No, I am not kidding. Have a nice day.

  15. Karen C says:

    That reminded me of another pet peeve.

    When you say you design a line, people ask if you could hem some pants for them. PUHLEEASE. Ask your drycleaner if they can do it or send it out.

  16. Dana says:

    Pet peeve- new designers who think the work ends when they’ve got finished samples and professional photos. Then proceed to spend all their energy on marketing. Hello! Does production or costing or shipping ever enter your minds?

  17. Alisa Benay says:

    Oh, good one, Pam off the cuff! I had a lady call me once & not even ask if I did alterations, she just said she was “coming by” to drop off her pants. I told her I only did custom designing for wedding gowns. Didn’t phase her, “what time works for me to drop off my pants?” So I ended up telling her my minimum charge is $1000 and I’m usually booked 9-12 months ahead of time (or at least that’s how I operated at the time). It was February, I told her “If you want to drop your pants off this afternoon, I can have them hemmed by November. And I’ll need a 50% deposit of $500 up front.”

  18. av says:

    Clothing production is one of the few industries left that is not fully automated by machines. Most individuals do not realize that another human had to push the fabric through a machine. Clothing, for the most part, is not stitched by automated machines somewhere in China. If consumers were more away of this, maybe they would be more conscientious and appreciative about what they bought.

  19. Deanna Tanner says:

    Here, here, to all of it, particularly the hem the pants thing, or “I’ll bet you can sew… Can I bring you this bag of mending I have…”.

    Also, the fact that I am a fashion designer doesn’t mean that I am banned from the mall. It is not morally wrong for me to wear clothing that I did not design or make.

    And I don’t care if you quilt like crazy, it’s not sewing. Even if you took the piecing curves class.

  20. Most of my pet peeves have been mentioned above, but this is the one I can’t get over. When I get asked what I do and I say I am a fashion designer, I get the “That must be so much fun, you must draw all day long!” comment. Yeah, because thats how things get produced and how a company is run, by drawing all day long….
    I try to explain to these people that my business is like any other business. We have a product we produce, market and sell. Its like I make toothpaste, but my toothpaste changes every 5 months and you wear it instead of putting in in your mouth.

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