Last week I was invited to speak at UKFT’s Rise event.
UKFT Rise was set up to support and provide a network for the ever increasing number of fashion start-ups. This was the second event hosted by the organisation where under 35s wanting to enter into the world of fashion could hear from ‘a selection of inspirational speakers from across the sector.’
Arriving after the event started due to a delayed casting in Kensington I walked into a room of 200 guests listening to Dermott Rowan, Managing Director and Co Owner of Orla Kiely Plc... Not only is he one of the big guns of fashion but he’s also my boss, when I have my Model hat on.
I browsed through the list of speakers. When they said inspirational they really meant it: Alex Fullerton of the Stylist, representatives from Ted Baker and Karen Millen and Mr Patrick Grant of Saville Row fame… I began to wish I’d put a little more effort into planning what I was going to use my 10 minutes to say.
Along with Eleanor Callaghan of ‘Dig for Victory’ I was speaking as an Etsy seller. Etsy is an online platform for pretty much anything handmade or vintage. The widely held industry opinion is that the profusion of crochet and general trinketry doesn’t make Etsy the most obvious platform for a high fashion, design led label.
And it isn’t.
But it has worked for us.
The amount of traffic Etsy drives to their site is unrivalled by other online sales platforms for designers. It’s the right sort of traffic too-Etsy customers browse the site because they want to buy direct from artists and crafts people, they want something unique and they’re prepared to invest if they find something they love.
Some of the other speakers such as Kresse of Elvis and Kresse, (an incredible brand using reclaimed fire hoses to make exquisite handbags. Yes. You heard) discussed the concept of slow fashion; developing products which are functional, durable and timelessly beautiful, not just a response to the latest trend. Etsy encourages this business model in a way which other selling platforms don’t always allow for. Selling on Etsy means we can upload new designs when they’re ready and we can keep them in our online shop for customers to see as long as they’re still interested in them, whether that’s 6 months or several years. We don’t have to tie ourselves to the 2 or even 4 season a year fashion treadmill.
If you’re a fashion maker or a fashion collector, take a browse. Don’t let the customised egg-cosies get you down.
And here's a video giving you a taste of the event and the great work of UKFT...