Alison Kelly: Wholesale Orders and Finding a Showroom

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After the loss, which I mentioned in my last blog, I had what one may call a nervous breakdown. I spent the next couple of months in a fog of worry, fear and anxiety. I had just received my first huge wholesale order from Shopbop.com and while that was exciting, it was quite stressful indeed. Generally speaking, retailers place orders from design houses twice a year, in September & February (some design houses create “Resort” collections which fall in the off-seasons). I had received my order in September which meant I would be shipping it out in February. How was I going to pay for the collection to be produced after having my prospective capital stolen? I needed to buy hundreds of yards of silk & cotton, buttons, zippers, linings, and because of my own strong beliefs against outsourcing production to far-away lands (which spells injustice not to mention poorer quality of goods) I had to make sure my factory would take on such a task in a timely fashion, willing to be paid once I was paid (which can be months after you have shipped in some cases!).

Somehow, through an eclectic combination of monetary support from my family, emotional support from my boyfriend & friends, the book “Eat, Pray, Love” (don’t tell) and pure fate, I was able to ship the collection to Shopbop on time and I actually made a good profit off of my first big wholesale account, which is virtually unheard of in this industry (and I was able to pay my parents back before my sister’s wedding that summer, phew!)…maybe I priced my pieces too high? Or maybe I was just lucky. However, a re-order from Shopbop sent me on a much brighter looking path and provided me with some capital to create my next collection. I couldn’t believe I had survived the tumultuous storm. I was elated. I want to zap to the present, now that I have shared with you a couple of experiences that have shaped where I am now and say that I have just signed with my first showroom in New York city and I am very excited to see what the future holds.

Shopping for a showroom is yet another daunting task. I have heard horror stories from my many designer friends who have worked with showrooms who just ate up all of their hard-earned money to come back with no sales, no effort, no support. I didn’t want to make that mistake as well. I shopped around, I loved a very upscale, high-fashion showroom run by an unique family (from mother & father to daughters) be I couldn’t afford their rates…I went to some uber-cool downtown independent showrooms which I loved the aesthetic but not the vibe…By chance, I was out one night when I ran into my friend Jeralyn Gerba from DailyCandy and she was with a woman whom, coincidentally, I had met years before at a Latin dance club in Brooklyn, and learned that she had just started repping designers & was opening a new showroom. One of her clients was an acquaintance of mine, Laura Dawson, whose career I had seen flourishing as of late. I asked around and people seemed to know about this showroom and the woman behind it and they said great things. I met with her, and after seeing how she adored my clothing, and also shared with me that she has been asking around about me as well & already had interested buyers, we sealed the deal. The showroom is in Nolita, one of my favorite areas of Manhattan, and seemed just right. We shall see what happens!

Fall Fashion Week in NYC

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Well, last week was fashion week here in the city, the high heels were clicking and the fabric was flowing.
It was my first experience with fashion week, well show’s at least, and let me tell you, it was exhilarating. Layla went to the Vera Wang show at 10 am and I met her my ticket to the Naeem Khan show at 11. Aside from getting lost behind the tent at Bryant park 5 minutes before the start of the show, it was amazing. Hikaru went to Cynthia Rowley and Benedikta went to Zac Posen. Details were in: the use of lace, woven fabric, drapes and ruffles defined the spring 2009 ready to wear collections. Most of the fabric that was chosen went one of two ways, either extra flowy or super stiff. Fashion week is very exciting and I can’t wait to see these looks next spring. Check out Style.com for pictures from all the shows.

Finding time

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Most days are busy for me but this past month has been a little crazy! Having 3 kids and working from home can have its ups and its downs. I love being home with my girls but it can be difficult to split my time between the two and often they merge together. Sometimes I get time to myself to work but other times I don’t and rather than stress about it (which I still do), I just have to let things go now and again and catch up with it later. My Jorinde muslin is one of those things, it has been hanging in my sewing room almost finished but I just haven’t had time to work on it. But, now that I have a heap of projects out of the way I plan to get to work on it, fingers crossed! I’ve noticed a few others have finished their jackets so rather than keep everyone waiting I’ve added a new thread to the forum for the next sewalong. Pop on over there and suggest what you would like to sew next. I will of course still be adding to jacket sewalong, maybe it can be a long running thread……….

I’m trying to spend more time looking after myself too; it’s easy to get caught up looking after everyone else so I’ve taken up practicing yoga and Pilates. I think a pair of these and a few of these would be good for workout wear. I’m rising earlier (but still failing to go to bed earlier), and trying to eat and drink a healthier diet. I’m doing it little by little and I feel better already.

I was asked by Ghainskomhow to make the yo-yo’s (or Suffolk Puffs) I embellished my dress with last week. They are super easy and you can find my quick How-To here. I’d love to see what you use them on if you make some.

Member Evsaid talks about Marc Jacobs and Fall Fashion

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Member evsaid brings us a great new blog talking about Marc Jacobs and everything fall fashion. Check out the first trend listed, you think it will catch on?

Fabric Choice of our October Skirt

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This blog is about sharing our everyday life in the design and production studio of BurdaStyle with you. That way you are always up to date on upcoming patterns and projects, AND you can give input in designs and ideas. Collaborative design, that is!

I am sure many interesting conversations will take place!



On Pins And Needles

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If you’ve visited the notions isle of your local sewing center recently, you may have noticed the dizzying array of pins and needles out there. This can only lead you to the question, “What do I use this for?”. This article not only gives a great description of each pin style, but also outlines the best types of materials and projects to with each one. Additionally, if you’re at a loss as to what needle to use with your material, then be sure to check out this handy needle chart before starting your next project. Between these two posts, you’ll never be at a loss when shopping for sewing supplies again!

Oktoberfest in Style

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It’s time for the Oktoberfest. In the Bavarian dialect, it’s Wiesnîtime – when thousands of tourists descend on Munich to get sick on Bratwurst (sausage) and rollercoasters, dance and fall off benches with uncountable other sweaty bodies Beertents where they drink beer by the litre out of heavy glass mugs called “Mafl” (the fl is equivalent to an “ss” and you pronounce the “a” like a “u” in mug). This is also the best season for second hand vendors of Dirndl and Lederhosen, the traditional Southern-German and Austrian dress, which has gained world fame not least through the musical and film Sound of Music. Lederhosen simply translate to leather trousers. The word Dirndl is derived from the Bavarian word for girl: Dirn. With a little bit of luck you will spot politicians, pop-stars, our most loved BurdaStyle editors, and even “it-girls” like Paris Hilton in Lederhosen or Dirndl.

But whoever considers him or herself a true Bavarian (and there are quite a few) do not only unpack their Dirndl and Lederhosen for the Oktoberfest. Especially in rural areas, people will wear the traditional dress at festive days, for weddings, baptisms, birthdays, and to go to church. But even young urbanites are rediscovering the beauty and romanticism of Dirndls. If you are invited to a wedding in Southern-Germany you might find yourself surrounded by people wearing Dirndl and Lederhosen who in their everyday life run around like you and me, a very interesting double identity.

You can compare this resurrection of the Dirndl and Lederhosen with their first coming out as fashion icons at the end of the 19th century. Before then, they were the working clothes of farmers, lumberjacks and anyone else who did hard physical work. Especially lederhosen, which are made from dark brown or black leather or suede, with intricate embroidery on trousers and suspenders are indestructible and can last for a lifetime. Thanks to the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. and various other royalties in Southern Germany who started wearing lederhosen at the turn of the 19th century, both became fashionable as summer holiday outfit with urban aristocrats and bourgeoisie who sought relaxation from urban summer dust in the cool Alpine regions.

Yet, there is much more attached to the traditional dress than simply fashion: traditional music, dances, songs, and celebrations which are being preserved until today. Like for example the “Schuhplattler” which could be translated as “shoe clapping”. To see what I mean check out these two videos on You Tube. One showing a dance from Vienna of the 1920s, and another from today.

Featured Member: Miss_B

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1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I’m from Slovenia, Europe.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

I honestly can’t remember when or how I started sewing. It was my mother that got me and my sister (another BurdaStyle member, merita) into sewing. I started very young by making clothes for my dolls and gradually that evolved into sewing clothes for myself.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

It’s a creative outlet and a way to relax after work. Sewing is something I love to do because it’s very rewarding, you actually create something, either for yourself or others.

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

My favorite thing about sewing is the creativity, tweaking the patterns or simply making new ones, experimenting. Least favorite is the fact that you have to iron every seam you make, I find that tedious and boring. And sewing zippers, I hate that.

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

I only sew for myself, the thought of sewing for others makes me nervous and I start doubting my sewing abilities. So if anything, my first goal would be to overcome that fear and actually try sewing for others. And I’d probably start with something simple and straightforward to first gain some confidence.

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

I love the tightly-knit community, people from all over the world ‘bonding’ over sewing. It’s amazing how helpful everyone here is, and how friendly. Sharing everyone’s creations and patterns is great, it gives me new ideas for clothes to make, it’s also challenging when I see a complicated design and I then try to make it myself. I can’t think of anything that would need improvement.

7. What is your motto?

I think the important thing in life is to always give it our best, to be passionate about the things that we do. We may fail, but trying hard is what counts, knowing that you really did the best you could.

Miss_B writes a fabulous blog where she writes of her other passions: photography and writing. She also has an Etsy Shopwhere you can find some of her creations. Thanks Miss_B!

Contest: Design and Sew a Cocktail Variation of the Malissa Dress

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We want YOU to get more involved, so we are inviting you to step up to a new challenge.



We are in the midst of designing a new variation, a cocktail dress version, of the Malissa dress, which will post on November 17th and will include the original pattern plus instructions on how to modify it.



Next to that variation we would love to see your idea of what the Malissa dress could look like as a cocktail dress.



Design and sew a variation of the Malissa dress and send a photo to team@burdastyle.com . The dress with the most votes will be part of our professional photo shoot along with the BurdaStyle creation.



Additionally, the winner of the contest will receive a CD of high resolution photographs from the photo shoot, a look book with prints and cards with the image on it for you to hand out to friends.



Send in your photo of your variation to team@BurdaStyle.com by the 23rd of September, along with a brief description on the pattern changes you have done.
TIP: Keep it simple. If you are the winner, we will ask you to create the how to explaining the pattern changes as well!!

Young Designer's Diary: Alison Kelly

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Competing on a reality television series is surreal to say the least, and I do not want my blog
to focus on Project Runway, or the participants, or the creators, but I will say that the show changed
me and looking back I am very thankful for the experience.



To demystify the situation a bit I
admit that it was not very fun to tape the show, but at the same time I am not saying that it
isn’t an incredible opportunity to expose your work, ideas & design aesthetic to millions of
viewers across the globe.



It was challenging to be stripped down to the bare essentials and quite
a task to be creative in an environment full of producers manipulating what you want to be
talking about, sleeping only 4-5 hours a night and literally being under lock & key for 6 weeks.
And being an amazing designer, personality & think tank at the same time.



One thing that still has me in awe is the impact the show has had on my life. I had absolutely
no idea how, as soon as the show aired, I would be bombarded with situations, people, fans,
opportunities, hard-ships, glorified moments, horrified moments & stress. For a normal person,
like myself, the exposure is scary & wonderful. All of a sudden magazines you have read your
entire life want to hear from you; but the catch is, they want gossip, they don’t necessarily
want to praise you for your design ideas & talent. And that part became tricky.



I decided I wanted to focus solely upon re-branding my line and create a wholesale label that
would be attainable to my fans but also to women who wanted something new with an edge.



Shortly after the show aired I made a deal with the popular online designer boutique Shopbop.com,
to create an exclusive collection of dresses & tops. I also collaborated with an old high school
friend on a complimentary line of jewelry. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to finance
this collection on my own so I decided to create a capsule collection for a boutique in SoHo. I
was having all of my production made in New York city’s garment district and my factory had
too much work on hand to take up my production so I went to a new factory upon recommendation
from some industry friends.



I went to pick up my dresses one day from the new factory and I realized the door was locked.
I peered inside the window and to my disbelief, I saw the entire factory was empty. They had
moved out in the middle of the night (they were unfortunately an illegal operation and 6 months
behind on rent as I later discovered) and nearly fainted. They had left with all of my patterns, many
bolts of fabric & all of my production.
Lesson number 1. Check.

I want to recommend a book to anyone who is eager to look into becoming a fashion designer
on their own:
The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business

Recycle your old clothes!

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Refashioning and recycling old clothes has been done for years, but now with a recession looming and eco-chic taking centre stage, we can start to rejoice in the wartime “Make do and mend” lessons our grandmothers learned. Recycling old clothes doesn’t have to be boring, though – a lot of times the resulting garment is even better than the starting one! If you get even one more wear out of it than it counts as a win for the planet and your wallet.

As I mentioned last week, this is the time of year that I assess my wardrobe for the upcoming season, taking note of what I need, and pulling out the clothes I no longer wear or have worn out. These clothes usually just go to the charity shop, but this year I’m going to take an extra step of sifting through them to see what can be refashioned into something new!

In the past I’ve made recycled creations like a dress from an old duvet cover, a beach coverup from a towel, and (famously) a dress from a shower curtain, but I also got some great inspiration from other members who’ve made barrettes from zippers (perfect if you’re using rest of the trousers for something else!), a skirt from Oxford shirts, and a Franzi vest from two skirts! If you stop looking at old clothes as worn out or out of fashion and start looking at them as pieces of fabric with potential, then whole new refashioning worlds start to emerge, especially if you can join a few together.

Right here on BurdaStyle there’s a huge amount of free and open source patterns to use that would be perfect for recycling smaller pieces of fabric from old clothes. I’m thinking…

If you’re inspired to recycle, please tag your creation with “recycled” and I’ll do a roundup post in a few weeks. Start digging!

New Alchemy Request: get paid to make the UTE shirt

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Hey everyone,
a new Alchemy request has been posted for an Ute shirt. Make a bid and good luck!

Thread Den fashion show

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Well my plans for the sustainable fashion show were put to an end when I rang up for tickets and they were sold out. Note to self: don’t wait, book well in advance! I did however get to the Thread Den’s 57 Chevy laneway fashion show earlier in the evening. A fabulous 50’s style show held in the laneway at the side of the Den. The show was also a launch for Biddy Bags in Australia. Biddy bags connects socially isolated nanas and mature-aged ladies through craft, economic participation and social networking. Check out their site for more details.


It was my first night out without Heidi since before she was born and as you may be able to tell I was pretty excited about that so I dressed up for the occasion. I was given a black dress by a friend sometime last year, sort of 50’s style with a tuille skirt underneath, I think she wore it swing dancing. I thought it was perfect to wear to the show and was fine as it was but I thought it needed a little something to spice it up. I used some black fabric scraps and made a binding to add to the hem then made a few yo-yo’s (or Suffolk puffs) and hand stitched them on near the hem. The whole thing took about 45 minutes, a quick and simple but effective refashion I think. I didn’t have to spend anything on my outfit since everything I wore was free or something I already had. I wore the dress with a thrifted coat I’d bought back while I was pregnant and a bag I found years ago at a car boot sale in the UK for 50p. The shoes came from my wardrobe and some cute handmade jewelry.


After the show I met up with a friend. We saw a cheesy show at the theatre, which was bad enough that we left halfway through and went for coffee and cake at Pellegrini’s, an old Italian coffee shop. I need to dress up and get out kid free more often, it was great fun!

Member Blog: Inspiration Orginization

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This is the first in our weekend series of Member Blogs and Stores. Every Saturday we will feature one of our member’s blogs or blog posts, of course this means that you, the member, need to keep supplying us with fresh posts!

This week’s blog is from our wonderful member/designer Mirela. Her blog Shows a quick and easy way to keep your design inspiration organized. Thanks for the post Mirela!

To submit your post send us the link at team (at) burdastyle.com. We look forward to reading them!

Nomad-Fashion

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Imagine you would move several times a year. You would have to pack up yours and your families entire wardrobe, your other belongings, your sewing machine. Imagine in addition, that when you move, you move by foot, there is no big truck coming to pick up your things but you and your family will be carrying it. Imagine on top of it all, that the weather is actually pretty hot, since you are living in a semi-desert! What would you do? Probably you would start having as little as possible, to avoid having to carry around all these things every time you move. And maybe it actually would be best to dress you and your family in next to nothing! And that is exactly what the semi-nomadic Himba do, who live in the North of Namibia, an African country that is located in between Angola and South Africa on the west coast of the continent. Yet, do not think that wearing nothing means there is no style or concept of beauty.

Many groups of Himba have retained their traditional lifestyles of cattle herding, moving with the rains to find fresh grazing grounds. And with that many of them, especially women and children have retained their traditional way of clothing: in their infancy, Himba children usually do not wear clothes and their heads are mostly shaven. Yet, already from birth, they are adorned with beaded necklaces which have all sorts of symbolic meanings. Once they get older they will wear leather loin cloths or mini-skirts, made from soft goat or cattle skin and plait their hair in a distinct fashion depending on whether they are girls or boys. Adults don’t wear much more, yet, they are richly decorated with necklaces and bracelets made from metal, leather and shells and even more intricate hair styles. Clothes, jewelry and fashion are not ends in themselves but all have a spiritual meaning or practical function. For example, the thick metal bands around their feet are said to serve as protection against snake bites.

In this world, without garments and fabrics, women have found a most unique way of covering their bodies, to both decorate it and to protect their skin from sun and weather: they cover their entire body, including their thick braids and often even their leather skirts in a thick mixture of butter fat, ocher and aromatic herbs that gives their skin a fascinating earthen-red hue. Words are not really apt to describe the special beauty of this people, but there are plenty of pictures available on flickr.

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