Fashion design is about much more than brainstorming and creating designs. The other key element is getting your designs into paying customers’ hands. To achieve this, it’s important to know how to network effectively in the fashion industry. Networking can be an excellent way to promote your brand and designs to customers and other fashion professionals.

This guide will help you grow your network as a fashion designer by looking into the following topics:

  • Benefits of networking for self-employed fashion designers
  • How to network in the fashion industry

Benefits of networking for self-employed fashion designers

Before we explain how to network in the fashion industry, let’s take a look at why networking is so important for self-employed fashion designers. If you become skilled at it, networking will have a number of benefits for your brand, including:

  • Strengthening your business connections – when done well, networking helps you build deep connections with other people in the fashion industry. 
  • Staying updated on trends – having a strong network means you can share ideas, discuss new trends, and gain inspiration to keep your designs fresh. 
  • Building authority and advancing your career – regularly attending events (virtual or in-person) and sharing your knowledge will help you build a reputation as an authority in your niche. As a result, people will begin coming to you. 
  • Accessing a larger audience – this one is simple maths. The more connections you have in your network, the more people you can reach when promoting your fashion designs. 
  • Making more sales – if you have strong relationships with people in your network, they’re more likely to buy from you or recommend your business to others to help you make more sales.

How to network effectively in the fashion industry

Now that you know the benefits you can tap into through effective networking, let’s go through some methods you can use to grow your fashion network.

Perfect your elevator pitch

When networking, you only have a short time to prove yourself as an invaluable asset and convince business professionals to take a look at your design portfolio. Your elevator pitch is the statement you give to introduce yourself, state your intentions, and explain what you can do. 

Remember that most people don’t have a ton of time to listen to long proposals, so the key is to be quick, clear and concise. Aim to keep your pitch between 30 and 60 seconds long. If they seem interested, you can offer to email your portfolio or set up a time to go through it together. Learn how to write an elevator pitch.

Attend local fashion events

Once you have your elevator pitch, you need to find other fashion professionals to use it on. An excellent way to meet new people is to attend fashion shows, exhibitions, networking panels, and even pop-up shops. 

Platforms like Eventbrite have a variety of fashion-related events, both virtual and in-person, that you can attend. Use these events to introduce yourself to new people and connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. Remember to stay in touch with the people after the event to form stronger relationships with them.

Use social media 

These days, social media is one of the most powerful networking tools in existence. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok allow you to interact with fashion professionals worldwide. Use these platforms to your advantage by connecting and interacting with prospects and other fashionistas. 

Facebook and LinkedIn also have plenty of fashion-related groups you can join to meet like-minded individuals. Use these groups to answer other members’ questions and share tips about different fashion topics. If you don’t have the solution yourself, direct a member to a blog or website that helps them solve their issue. This way, you present yourself as knowledgeable, helpful, and a valuable contact to have. 

Approach different people 

When you’re new to fashion networking, you might feel more comfortable talking to people you already know. But networking is about forming new connections, so push yourself out of your comfort zone and strike up conversations with new people. 

It’s important to remember that anyone can be a valuable asset to your business, whether the person is the CEO of a massive clothing company or a fashion intern. These people’s connections also matter a great deal when growing your network. For example, an intern may not have much power themselves yet, but maybe they can introduce you to their boss?

Approaching new people can be challenging, but a great way to overcome the initial awkwardness is to open with a question. Ask the person what they thought of a particular piece in the fashion show or what brought them to the exhibition. You can also open with a compliment to break the ice. Tell them how much you love their jacket or shoes –– you’re at a fashion event, after all!

Find time to network more by using Countingup

Fashion networking requires you to regularly attend events and build your confidence by speaking to people, so you’ll want other aspects of your business to be as quick and easy as possible.

Countingup is a unique two-in-one business current account and accounting software enables you to manage your financial data for one simple app. Save time on bookkeeping so you can focus on growing your network and building a thriving fashion business.

Start your three-month free trial today. 
Find out more here.