The Business of Fashion | Do Fashion Institutes Really Prepare You?

Business and design go hand in hand, now, and without understanding how each part is important you can easily find yourself losing your power in major decision making moments. . . – Brendan M Combs, designer.

Brendan M Combs is a recent fashion design graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD] and got a “chance” opportunity to show at New York Fashion Week, Art Hearts Fashion.BMC_HEADSHOT_CLR-1 (2)

This is part 2 of a 3 part interview series with Brendan who shares his design preparation, BTS [behind the scenes], his experience at SCAD, and his vision for his brand and the future of fashion to the EDGE network and viewers.

In this interview, he shares his experience and what he learned at SCAD, and talks about his first order of business.

You are a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD].  As I talk to the EDGE network, the one commonality is the challenge on how to run the business side of a fashion brand, which many schools don’t teach.   Do you feel that SCAD prepared you with knowledge, expectations, and tools on running the business side and how so?

The discussion of schools prepping designers in both creative endeavors and business has been a hot topic recently, on one end you have several designers saying that it’s necessary to have knowledge in both, and on another you have a whole other section of designers claiming that it’s important to have someone manage business for you so that you can remain completely creative in your thinking.  Schools are beginning to really focus on balancing the two together.Courtesy of BrendanMCombs, IMG_2504

SCAD is a wonderful institution who put me in direct access to the professors that helped refine the knowledge I have from their own. I worked while attending school, 30 hours a week at Starbucks, and paid my way because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to attend the school.  So I’m very thankful that I was able to learn from the professors that I did.  SCAD’s professors are attuned to what is happening in the industry, and model their courses to that, and one of them is the expectation that designers know how to market themselves, and understand how businesses work so that they can become profitable, and successful.

Courtesy of BrendanMCombs, IMG_1793

Courtesy of BrendanMCombs, IMG_1800SCAD as an institution is frustrating because they’re commonly known, quietly, among students, and professors for not openly showing support for students who choose to break out on their own in favor of working for an established brand; albeit, they are attempting to with a new Entrepreneurship studio.  They also are pretty known among students for playing favoritism and only highlighting certain students rather than all of the students who are doing amazing things.

Business and design go hand in hand, now, and without understanding how each part is important you can easily find yourself losing your power in major decision making moments.  You don’t understand what’s happening or your business could never become a reality because you can’t translate it into a profitable investment when meeting with buyers, and investors.Courtesy of BrendanMCombs, IMG_2507

As a new fashion design graduate, what is the first order of business in building your brand?

Before you start building anything business oriented, make one small capsule collection entirely for fun.   Make as many mistakes in it as possible, completely throw away everything you were taught in school, and operate on what you think you should do.  My second collection was exactly that, it was right after I got out of school, and I was really inspired by this idea of cyber club kid ravers dancing inside a motherboard in clothes they made themselves.   So I purposely made a lot of mistakes in the construction of the garments like leaving edges raw.  It was fun for me to create because I used such awesome fabrics and leather that were all coated in optical synthetics.
In business, have a business plan, have a sales/order form, find someone who believes in you.  Be prepared to fail a few times, it’s learning, I’m definitely still learning as I go.Courtesy of BrendanMCombs, IMG_2467

Read more on the complete interview with Brendan M Combs:

EDGE congratulates Brendan M Combs on his journey so far and extends continued success for the future!
Thank you!

All images courtesy of Brendan M Combs.

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