Want to Design a Clothing Line? A Style Expert Shares Tips for Success
Who hasn't dreamt of starting their own clothing line some day?
Whether it's swimsuits, tees, loungewear, athleisure or designer gowns, having a brand you can call your own (and get other people to wear!) sounds like the ultimate goal.
But, like with any business or creative career, it's challenging to keep up with trends and competition, all while making enough money to keep producing products. Because we're inspired by people who manage to stay afloat in such a demanding industry, we reached out to Megan Baca, who's been VP of Design and Merchandising at Chaser Brand for almost a decade. The company, which specializes in upscale rocker tees and elevated loungewear, has been around since 1988!
Keep reading for everything Megan shared about being successful in the Los Angeles fashion design world and in retail overall.
Sweety High: How did you start working with Chaser?
Megan Baca: I was starting a new line with a mentor of mine and was introduced to the Founder of Chaser, Hadi Salem, by a mutual friend and showroom owner, so that I could help infuse some fresh ideas and newness into the line in terms of silhouette and fabrication. I ended up designing a full collection for that season that went into sampling. At the same time, my mentor and I realized we were on different pages with the direction we wanted the new line to go in, so after deciding not to take that business idea any further, I started to increase my involvement in designing Chaser and growing the collection. About eight years ago, I came on board full time.
SH: What's the best way to source vintage pieces?
MB: There are so many good ways—it's fun to go to vintage fairs and vintage expos, or see vintage vendors at large textile trade shows like Premiere Vision in Paris, but you can also hunt down some good finds in local thrift shops. Surprisingly, there are some treasures to be found online, on eBay and Etsy, as well as some other independent vintage sites.
SH: What are your favorite fabrics to mix/wear at the same time?
MB: I love the classic combination of denim, leather and a tee shirt or tank top, you can't go wrong with such a solid pairing.
SH: What about Parisian culture inspires you?
MB: The lifestyle itself inspires creativity. Things are more intentional. From getting a café crème in the morning with a bit of baguette or croissant, to riding the metro and seeing all of the effortlessly stylish people starting their day—to wandering through the different levels of the Bon Marché seeing fashion, home décor and groceries displayed and merchandised with such intention and so much care and thought, makes you realize how beautiful life can be. It's always hard to leave Paris after a visit, but I feel I always bring back a new revived sense of spirit and passion with me that lasts until the next trip.
SH: What are the keys to a successful clothing line?
MB: There are so many components to creating a clothing line, but from a design perspective I would have to say that you have to stay informed, and do extensive research, not only of the current trends but of iconic fashion eras past. It's important to take all of that information in, digest it, and then follow your instincts and design from the heart, not following anyone else's lead, but forging your own path.
And, on the other end of things, it's vital to follow the entire process closely, not only at the sketch level but in the fitting, fit and comfort. It's the key to winning over customers and gaining their long term loyalty, as is quality in production. You have to always fight for quality and integrity of the design as it gets produced and reproduced.
SH: What differentiates a luxe-looking piece from a cheap-looking piece?
MB: Fabrication always elevates a garment. Using luxurious fibers, like linen and cashmere, and mixing them with other natural fibers like cotton creates a soft, breathable texture that feels soft to the skin. My goal is to create garments that are lifelong favorites, that feel like you're wearing your pajamas while you look ready to take on the world, dressed up or down.
SH: What's your favorite pair of jeans?
MB: I've always loved Mother Denim. The fit is great, the styles are classic—they have a style called the looker, an ankle fray. But I also recently got a pair of Agolde, and have been very impressed with the fit and fabric. I've gotten lots of compliments, so I have a new favorite.
SH: What's your favorite trend of the moment?
MB: I love seeing how a trend evolves and changes as it's been in the market for a bit. I love seeing how the animal print trend has morphed into new and interesting hybrids, while the tie-dye trend has emerged fresh with more sophisticated dye techniques that feel more elevated and high-end.
SH: What's your least favorite trend of the moment?
MB: Sometimes it is hard to see '90s trends emerge at the forefront when these are things that I wore in high school and college, and seeing models come to our castings wearing the same things in cheap or mid-market version, feels like a sad interpretation. I can get onboard with cropped tees and oversized pants with Doc Martens from a style aesthetic. I may not wear it myself, but I can appreciate it when it has been done and styled properly.
SH: What are your best style tips for girls who feel like they haven't quite found their niche yet?
MB: I have friends who have no clue how to put things together. They either shop and buy everything on the mannequin head to toe, or they subscribe to box services, like Stitch Fix. I think the answer really lies in following your instincts and finding pieces that speak to you emotionally, then pairing them back to other simple items to find a balance that feels like you. I think the mistake is taking risks that feel out of character. You'll never feel comfortable if you aren't making style choices that feel like yourself.
Perhaps you can turn to Chaser Brand for THESE style trends that are expected to take over 2020!