Building a Menswear Business
Leif Erikkson – Captains log: Exploring the frontiers of Fashion
The best way I can describe setting up a business is trying to make that first loop in an elastic band ball. It can seem impossible at first!
As a menswear designer setting up a new business in sustainable coats and jacket. I am in a position where I don’t have a diary full of contacts. I’m not based in London, the hub of the fashion industry. I don’t have a studio and I work in a tiny workshop in my back garden. But I believe I have something that exciting and innovative to share with the Fashion Industry. Setting up a business with this sort of goal can feel very lonely, and at times impossible. It would be easier to use my energy to find a job to settle down in and build my career that way. But I know that there will be people reading this knowing that this isn’t an option, trust me I know how you feel. I’m still very much at the beginning of my journey, but the support that I’ve had, has been invaluable so far.
It turns out I just like making life harder for myself!
I first ventured into sustainable fashion by entering the Eco Chic design competition in the 2014/15 cycle. As a finalist I was shown the effects of throw way fashion and textiles and how damaging it was to the environment in Beijing. It wasn’t hard to translate these issues to a British landscape and what I was experiencing. I wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem. To be fashion forward in my work ethic as well as in my design execution. This was what kick-started the shift into sustainable fashion.
I sought the help of the Princes Trust, whilst working as a product coordinator at Harris and Zei Men Tailors in London. As a charity they support young Entrepreneurs and small and medium sized enterprises throughout the United Kingdom.
I was given a mentor to help develop a brand built for longevity, it’s easy to make hasty decisions when you’re building a business. Especially in the first 2 years when it can be so unpredictable.
The development of my business has been slower than most because I am looking to build a business that will last for next 50+ years. This means starting small, and perfecting each stage as I develop. For me it’s about trusting my own judgment. Acknowledging my mistakes, learning from them and taking risks when necessary, because no business is risk free. AND breaking down your goals in to achievable targets FYI it doesn’t happen overnight, if it does that’s pretty awesome. My approach is ensuring that I build a business that is sustainable from the ground up. The method of work isn’t without its challenges; sustainable or not, it’s expensive. So, I’ve become more determined in every opportunity.
I’m happy my business is different from others in the menswear field. My sustainable coats and jackets are made with respect for the environment, the production and the wearer. Instead of what is trending. This is something I would recommend you think about. What does your sustainable brand have to offer? Also how does it benefit your customer?
Being a sustainable designer is so much fun and I get to meet people who are passionate and genuine about what they believe. These artisan businesses carefully consider their craft and create something of a very high standard. This I relate to and reiterate in my business ethos.
Consistency and perseverance is key along with a dash stubbornness when necessary!
Check out my manifesto at HERE
Thanks for your time!
Founder Leif Erikkson
*This article was written for Redress for The Eco Chic Design Award Alumni Network, July 2016*