With London Fashion Week taking up most of February’s headlines, the common man or woman may be feeling a little bit sidelined, wondering why they didn’t get invited to the party.
However there is no need to despair. Come this time next year, or maybe in time for the spring summer/shows this September if you’re really quick about it, you could be sitting behind the scenes while gazelle-like models glide along the runway in designs created by you. This is because it has never been easier to get yourself launched into the fashion limelight.
Just as the internet has served to propel fashion writers from the blogosphere to the front row, it is also possible to make a name for yourself as a fashion maestro, by harnessing the power of the web. (NB while it is technically possible, it is highly unlikely. But you could make a few bob and acquire an interesting hobby.)
The first things you are going to need are clothes to make up your collection. You can either make these yourself or customise charity shop finds. Up-cycling is very popular right now with brands like TRAID and Urban Renewal bringing revamped pre-loved pieces to the high-street.
If you lack the necessary skills and know-how required, don’t worry. You can find classes to teach you everything from basic sewing techniques to pattern cutting and dress making just a Google search away. Obviously you will need to leave your computer to attend, but these will give you a place to meet like minded individuals and exchange ideas.
Alternatively, if you don’t fancy putting down your laptop, you could simply tune in to one of the many YouTube channels dedicated to this sort of thing. Everything from how to thread a sewing machine to more meaty challenges like making a T-shirt, a dress or a blouse will be there at your disposal.
Do be aware that the videos are peppered with various degrees of professionalism and dodgy outfits, for instance search How to Thread a Sewing Machine 1 for a lovely lady called Pam in a spectacularly eighties blouse.
One of more engaging, easy to follow and well executed channels is a series of videos from Threadbanger, where a gang of grungey American youths talk you through the ins and outs of dressmaking. Some aspects verge on cheesy but it should leave you relatively well equipped, to make a few basic garments, once you have mastered some preliminary sewing skills. All of Threadbanger’s videos can also be found in one place on their blog at www.threadbanger.com/blog
After you have made or customised your creations, you will need to find a platform on which to sell them. You might find yourself a bit spoiled for choice at this point as sites where you can post your own products for sale are spreading like a dubious skin rash.
You can stick to the old faithful, Ebay on which you can design your own store. This looks like a commercial website but with Ebay’s masthead. See Ebay’s Business Centre for more info.
Fashion giant, ASOS has recently cottoned to on the users-as-sellers trend and opened up ASOS Marketplace, where you can find boutiques selling wares by various independent retailers and designers.
I Can Make Shoes is an excellent example of the up-cycling trend. This company makes quirky, bespoke shoes either from scratch or by using the skeleton of a second hand pair. ICMS also offers shoe designing and cobbling courses from £75 to £500, so once your clothing line has taken off you can add a range of unique footwear.
In order to build your own brand presence on the web it is a good idea to construct your own website in addition to other sites you might be using. To do this is increasingly simple; just apply for a domain name and away you go. Also, with tools such as WordPress and Shopify, you don’t even need a designer to get going. These programmes have easy to use ‘back offices’ which spell out design options in plain English and can be customised to suit your needs.
The internet is making entrepreneurship far more attainable, even not everybody can be the next Henry Holland, nearly everybody can now make a few quid if they are good at cutting up old T-shirts and are willing to fork out a few pence on sellers fees.
Plenty of today’s big names like Vivienne Westwood and Pepe Jeans started out on London market stalls but now there is no need to make the trip to the capital or stand outside getting your hair rained on. So what are you waiting for? Fame and fortune or at the very least a way getting your creative juices flowing, are just a mouse-click away.