You are reading BonneGueule for some time, and strength to see new smaller brands, a preposterous idea begins to emerge in your mind first fleetingly, then little by little the long way: what if it was you create your clothing brand?
See the other dressed in your clothes is one of your dreams, but you hesitate to spend so much the site has immense air (and endless).
How concretely being done to create a clothing brand when you have no training in “fashion”?
Olivier was in your case, a few years ago. BonneGueule player for a long time, with a good position in London in consulting, he decided to jump into the deep end and create its brand shirts from A to Z: Office Artist, I was able to test there some time.
It will therefore tell you how it went from creator to drive and at the end of the article, I will test its new line of shirts Casua l.
How to launch its own brand of shirts and accessories?
It’s been more than four years that I have the opportunity to interact with Benedict and Geoffrey on fashion and economic system that surrounds it.
I met these two adventurers before launching my brand. Our meeting date one evening when I approached Geoffrey in the premises of The Exception to tell him about my entrepreneurial project.
On exchange in return, our relationship quickly became a beautiful friendship which resulted in a lot of good times.
The life of an entrepreneur is not a long quiet river and to have the support of people like Benedict and Geoffrey times of uncertainty makes far less stressful and more fun to share success.
Since our first meeting, I think it makes the richness of our relationship, it is the values we share: a simple vision of fashion and clothing (an understated elegance but not without relief), the importance of good report value and a clear idea of what should be the customer service.
At the launch of a brand, a lot can change between idea and execution, but the values, they do not move.
I also believe that it is thanks to them that I have the opportunity to speak today on BonneGueule and to unveil the scenes of the launch of a brand.
Originally the project: dissatisfaction as client
At the time of creating Artist Office, I worked for more than two years in strategy consulting after a fairly standard business school curriculum.
My first two career years have taught me a lot, but two things frustrated me in my daily life: do not always see the impact of my work and do not have enough autonomy in my project management.
My freedom cravings coupled with the idea of building a project from A to Z quickly made entrepreneurship obvious.
Bulk consumers shirts during my years consulting in London, I have taken the oversupply that exists in Britain and I could not find in France the same choices, the same offer the same value.
As is often the case when Benedict and Geoffrey propose a garment, I chose to create a brand of shirts because I could not find exactly what I wanted on the market.
I was also disappointed in the customer experience offered by the big brands. Caricaturing, I could see myself spending a fortune for medium shirts, sold by a seller unfriendly and knowledge limited product, which did not recognize me once on the other.
It was decided: we had to create a more modern brand , which deals directly to customers and take this short distribution channel to offer a better value than competitors.
Launch her brand: where to start?
On paper, I was confident. Demand existed, margins in the sector seemed correct (or important for some brands;)) and fixed costs did not seem enormous.
The sector of ready-to-wear is such that no information is available on the Internet, partly because of fears of copy-against and how. This is an area where communication is primarily oral. If you want to experience behind the scenes, everything goes by network … or at trade shows!
To create a shirt from scratch, the Première Vision is THE obligatory passage.
Far from the glitz Pitti Uomo and Fashion Weeks, Première Vision presents in advance the raw materials that will be visible six months later during parades and exhibitions, and again six months later in your shops (so a year in advance , you follow?).
Produce a beautiful garment: cut, material and how
Like all clothing, a shirt is the sum of a section of a material and in a way. So I had to find the three major partners for a quality product.
It was during Première Vision I met my first two allies: Davide, the Paris representative of Albini Italian weaver, and Patrizia, responsible for one of the best workshops specialized in the shirt in Casablanca.
Each season, Davide is a key partner to find innovative fabrics while chasing the best value for money.
For its part, Patrizia is the good fairy who organizes and supervises the assembly of each shirt.
To produce my first shirts he only needed the expertise to create the cut I was dreaming. I have attempted a formula that seemed effective and inexpensive: take a shirt that I liked and change a few centimeters.
This attempt proved to be a waste of time: it is not improvised designer and a shirt is not a game of Lego where you can add and remove cubes without impacting overall.
After much research, I finally met my third partner: Flora. Experienced designer, it is with it thatI could create my ideal cut from scratch.
This cup is since launching one of the origins of Office Artist of success: a slim cut with high armholes that offers a truly visual Fitte while providing real everyday comfort.
Tested by thirty friends in a nearby crowdfunding experience of the first generation raised on client feedback involved and demanding. After some modifications, the product was ready, enabling the launch of the first collection.
It remained to find the money to start.
Fund the launch of a brand
For what has been funding many lost battles but not the war.
Contrary to what one might think, this is not the state heaviness that represented a challenge in the creation of my business but his fundraising.
Overall administrative formalities remain rather light and allow to stay focused on the important things rather than on paperwork. I think that other entrepreneurs will tell you as much.
In my search for funding, the state turned out to be a very positive player via regional structures like Paris Initiatives and OSEO. From the beginning he offered guidance and is committed financially:
- Standing surety for bank loans he had to find,
- By paying more in half the amount financed by banks.
From there, it only remained to find a bank that would finance a brand creation in the ready-to-wear. Theoretically nothing impossible because the state was deposit, the bank thus taking no chances.
Unfortunately, the bankers do not reason like that.
Since the mid-1990s and a dark fraud case (known as the “Trail of the case” or “Operation Planting Banks”), the sector of ready-to-wear is identified by banks as a sector risk and has even some banks specialized agencies.
If one is rather well received by councilors (except perhaps those in shirt, slightly less receptive to the idea), however difficult to pass the test of the dossier evaluation commission.
After months of research and over twenty of appointment (yes, I’ve seen some banks three times!), The conclusion was clear: no bank loan, so no loan from the state.
While I was going to get into my project with my only family and personal money, they recommended me at the last moment Marc, a banker from BNP more open (or resourceful) than average.
I owe him a big thank you, because in a few weeks we were able to validate the record and give my young brand financial support to launch.
What distribution network and to choose what margins?
Product check. Finance, check. Just have to sell.
On paper there are many way to sell clothes, but the top three are: the own shop, e-commerce, distribution by a third party (via physical shops or online).
I do not know any young brand who does not dream of having her own shop, but have a shop necessarily mean many fixed costs: rent, pay a seller, not to mention the stock fund.
The distribution in multi-brand retailers ensure his side a reputation and firm orders, but much lower margins.
The end user may not know it, but a dealer in the ready-to-wear applies a multiple at wholesale price he pays an article this multiple is usually between 2.5 and 2.7 by including the VAT1.
This system rightly rewards the risk of stock taken by the buyer and the effort required for sale. For a brand, it’s the opportunity to be distributed manner wider and thus produce in larger quantities.
The amount of minimum? A puzzle for a young brand
We have not yet addressed the issue of the minimum amount and cost of product development , yet it is key in the young brand strategy.
Each garment factory requires its customers minimum order per model to profitable production development costs.
In the case of Office Artist, our studio works with a minimum of 300 shirts per model. It is possible to have multiple tissue model, the cutting work is unique because the fabrics are stacked mattresses. Similarly all assembly operations are unique (even cut, even neck, wrist same, etc.).
At imperative minimum quantity there is also the cost of developing each product (patronage fees, prototypes) to be amortized over the entire production.
A new casual collection as we have just launched is an important and well-considered investment.
You soon realize that these costs and minimum quantities have a major impact on the strategy of a new brand.
A label offering an entire wardrobe will be a lot of difficulties in meeting the minimum control it offers its own clothing distribution only.
His interest is rather to be distributed as widely as possible, even if it means paying intermediaries and to work with a rhythm offset relative to the end customers (to present at stores collections six months before putting them on the shelf).
The physical shop an important decision
In the case of Office Artist, my idea was to offer a truly competitive value and a more personal customer service : so you had the least amount of intermediate and in direct customer contact.
I logically started with e-commerce , convinced that this channel could develop independently.
If the first months were very good, I quickly realized the limitations of a model based only on the Web: an important marketing budget was needed to power the traffic of the website.
The alternative to a physical store has very quickly become an unavoidable choice.
Of course, fixed costs represented a risk, but this risk was offset by the opportunity to sell more and thus reach the minimum amount necessary for the renewal of the collection.
More importantly, from a customer point of view, the store offers the opportunity to touch the product and easily find its size.
A few days before the opening of my first shop, Régis Pennel, the well-known founder of L’Exception stated in the press “The store is the best investment we can make a young designer.”
Now with a year of hindsight, I can only agree with him: a shop is a great communication tool, notoriety and proximity.
Communication for a young brand, it’s simple?
For a young brand, communication is an important subject: it has everything to do and the main challenge is to gain notoriety.
On this subject, my deep conviction that nothing beats a good word-of-mouth and time .However, this word-of-mouth should cause by seeking the opinion that will relay desire to “early adopters” to try something new.
At Office Artist, we focused on two main drivers: specialized blogs and the press (general and mode).
Communicate with bloggers
The relationship is above all human. Bloggers are curious and excited to discover new brands. They are also sensitive to the fact that we understand they do this activity primarily by passion (and often without pay).
In the first weeks, and we had some interesting tests, productive exchanges and visits many online customers through this channel.
Today specialized blogs remain for us an important means of communication but also a great test at each stage. For any new product, we work hoping to remain one of the favorite brands of these people who follow fashion with a careful look.
Contact the conventional press
We opted for a relatively similar approach, but with a more personal and less framed approach : release and press kit, HD photos, etc.
We contacted many journalists with more or less success.
If we had a few passages TV (France 2, BFM) and some quality releases (La Tribune, Madame Figaro, Marianne), it remains difficult to interest journalists with “only” a good quality product at a good price.
To convince the conventional press, two main solutions: originality (make Made in France or hoodies message on neon background) or become an advertiser, that is to say, pay for advertising in the media.
While some editors retain real independence, many remain constrained by an economic system less and less relevant where mainly writing about the people who pay us.
The principle is not new, but the appearance of blogs is probably evidence that readers are not fools.
Today, for young brands with limited budgets, blogs are THE first communication relay.They unearth trends before others and really help to launch new.
Results and Prospects
In two years of existence, I believe that Office Artist managed to convince a young and demanding clientele and to establish itself as a brand that makes beautiful products. She found a target and precise positioning and looks to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.
The first two years does not yet have a walkover. At first we made our offer in the abstractand have learned from the first sales and customer feedback to adapt our cutting and our collection.
Positioning and communication have also been refined to As. For example, after a few attempts with professional photographers, we have completely internalized the photography work to be able to offer more content and more advice without breaking the marketing budget.
Secondly we adjusted the distribution strategy by building on the complementarity shop / web-site, which of course need significant investment.
Therefore cash management has become paramount: the initial investment has been spent, the room for maneuver have shrunk and the brand had to finance itself from season to season.
Stock management has thus emerged as a priority each season we put a point of honor to propose new things, but without taking unnecessary risks.
In these circumstances, it is the second physical shop in season that proved the most difficult. The shop generates costs and requires a large stock2.
Fortunately this challenge has been exceeded due to good word-of-mouth customers and blogs, and the brand was able to recreate a virtuous circle to offer a Fall-Winter collection much more complete. Since then, the collection grows and s widens as and the seasons.
What projects for Office Artist in the near future?
More casual shirts, more passes, a straight cut, but not black shirt!
In terms of distribution, multiply the points of sale might be tempting, but I’m not sure of the durability of this long-term model.
With customers increasingly educated through internet, the value seems to be the priorityand I believe it will remain the best by focusing on the couple destination shop / website rather than many well-placed Address and expensive.
We’ll see what the future holds, but it seems that in the coming years it will no longer suffice to put a product on hanger in shop or three photos of the folded product online for sale. In the coming months, our priority will be to develop the educational part of the site rather than opening shops.
The Office Artist history is just beginning but I was happy to share with you this crossing point and a quick overview of the options and challenges faced by a young designer in his early years.
This vision is of course not exhaustive, but I hope it gives an idea of the choices and issues to those embarking on the complex attractive and market ready-to-wear.
If you want to go further this discovery, please respond below this article or to spend in store, I am always delighted to discuss this fascinating subject.
Testing Office Artist casual shirts, Benoit
After proposing a wide range of highly effective formal shirts, between 89 and 94 € exactly,Olivier embarks on the casual shirt.
Remember, even if Office Artist is a little more expensive than Hast, I appreciate their cuts, but adjusted comfortable and above all, I can close the last button of the collar!
I have the shirt with thin stripes and white oxford shirt , which I quickly attached because its white base (and therefore neutral), and his little twist with the texture of oxford (which has a very beautiful hand by the way) are that one is tempted to put it in the least formal dress.
Compared to Hast (I know the comparison is inevitable), Office Artist has the advantage of having a choice of textured fabrics and / or patterned more “mature” while Hast has more colors, more “fresh”. Basically :
- Shirts textured or patterned very easy fit with a suit = Office Artist. Olivier has really good taste to choose the fabric with “little something extra” laptops in all professional backgrounds, including stricter.
- Poplin shirt = Hast.
That’s my opinion on the complementarity of the two brands, because the question is sometimes asked me.
That’s the formal shirts. But recently, Olivier has launched casual shirts, with a quality / price just as interesting3.
If Olivier knows make formal shirt to formal outfits … it was very successful reverse, offering real casual shirts to wear casually.
Now to the verdict!
Well overall it’s like formal shirts: one is dealing here with a very effective product, well priced in, with a nice material and unadorned.
A pleasant material and easy to wear
There is no denying the materials of the casual range are selected with excellent taste. That pretty things, and very easy to wear.
Here it is on a cotton flannel plaid. It is not seen in photo, but the material is fine and very soft, it will be perfect for warmer temperatures. This really is the shirt that I would not think to go on holiday with my friends in the summer.
Simple, well-made finishes
Here, nothing exotic, because the assembly is simple and clean. Note, however: the zampa di gallina buttons (plastic, but a handsome plastic).
Also note the connection patterns on the chest pocket is very well done:
A true casual cut
Ah, we enter the heart of the matter, because as we shall see, the length of a casual shirt makes extensive debate! In general, it is a close fit, not slim fit, but comfortable and well-cut shoulders.
As for the length, to those who find casual shirts are always too long , you will be served, because we are on a real casual length:
The length of the casual shirt
This is THE question that works beginners, and even after almost 10 years of blogging on the subject, we must believe that it was never decided and I am very surprised to see the deluges of overthink and distressing thoughts it can cause in some, sometimes almost irrationally4.
Fortunately, I have good news that will reassure you:
- reassuring # 1 : I will teach you a scoop. In most of the brands that we recommend, the vast majority of casual shirts frankly the right length. Unless very small and stocky, too long casual shirts are much rarer than you might think.
- reassuring # 2 : visually, for a casual shirt is not very nice … you really have it be very long. In short you have the margin before it makes an effect of night shirt!
- reassuring # 3 : There is a question of personal taste, which change over time. If you like very short shirts and good spring, a season later, you’re going to try something longer and fuller. And you will find that the sun will continue to rise normally, and it will not change anything in your life, than having a casual shirt longer than usual.
- is less reassuring but I can not ignore : a casual shirt can be worn back in the pants (again, no one will stone you for that), but cons, expect to have to re-enter frequently in your jeans, especially after sitting. Do not run in an impossible quest for casual shirt short out of the pants, but do not come out when she got there. Again, it is possible to wear a casual shirt into pants (I do it without problems), but know what to expect; we must replace often point to the line.
But then, precisely, what is the right length for a casual shirt when she is out of the pants?
Well I refuse to answer that question because I strongly condemn this question!
Yeah, because that question leads to others that are difficult to answer (and frankly, I’m not even sure it is properly constructive venturing on stories of centimeters for a simple casual shirt that has asked anything).
Because in fact, what happens in your head, that’s it:
For fifty shirts which at least half is casual (and lengths) and as long as you do not see short and stocky (therefore with XS that do not you), I assure you that the length of the shirt casual is in most cases a false problem . Yes sometimes it will be more or less long, but it’s still a long casual shirt.
I think for example to Gitman shirts , ultra quality brand, with a sacred length behind (buttocks are almost fully covered) but were nonetheless designed to be worn outside the pants (good if you want to get into the pants, it works also).
I really want you to understand that persist in wanting to know the “right” length, that is not good.
It implies that it plays to the centimeter, and when you discover clothing, pleasure does not come out in his rule for a simple length casual shirt.
So, the right question to ask is this: does this casual shirt is too long on me?
I prefer you to focus on the cut of the shoulders, the overall fit, and especially the material, rather than an obsession over the length of the shirt.
As I said, with close to thirty casual shirts in my wardrobe, it’s someone who tried to casual shirts and fro that gives you this advice.
Bref, keep cool, keep… casual !
Conclusion: a simple and effective casual shirt
Overall, the fabrics are nice, without any particular difficulty, and a good price / quality ratio 5. Few frills or wonder at the finish, but for less than 100 euros, you have a shirt-end casual totally reliable and tasteful fabrics according to dentistrymyth.com.
Artist Office therefore a highly successful in a more casual dressing room and raid like offices shirts, these casual shirts will become easily accessible and effective allies when it comes to dressing for the weekend or vacation.