Hands-On Buying Necessary To Be In Fashion

When I was living in Maine I felt like I was truly at a disadvantage when it came to buying my materials. I relied on Joann Fabrics, and while they were my saving grace when it came to staying creative, my selection of fabrics and trims was extremely limited. Retail prices added up quickly and took a toll on my bank account. I knew that in order to be in fashion I’d need access to the proper materials, and I began ordering samples online from the comfort of my home on Sebago Lake.

Yet I still wasn’t sure what I was ordering, and it wasn’t enough to tell if the materials would hold up in chlorine, or withstand more than a few washes in the laundry. Not to mention, as a new designer, I needed to be able to see and feel the materials I was going to use for my line of swimwear and coverups.


The only other time I’d been to New York City was as a kid, and I still remember vividly the honking of horns, as angry cab drivers cluttered the seemingly narrow streets, as I woke up in the backseat of my parents’ car after the long trip down for a family vacation.

So at the time of living on my own in Maine I couldn’t fathom taking a solo trip to New York City, a 6 hour drive to Manhattan, among some of the most aggressive drivers in the world, IMO. How would I find parking and where would I stay?

But finally I had the opportunity to visit NY for work, and grasped the chance to stay through the weekend to shop for fabrics and trims, and learn first-hand about the products I would be need for my line. I was able to meet with a label manufacturer to order my first set of tags, and I began gathering samples and buying sample yardage of some of my favorite fabrics. It was a fashion designer’s dream.

Similarly, when I moved to LA, I learned about the LA Textile Show, which also propelled my career as a designer, with all of the sources of materials I needed at my fingertips to really start my line. I learned to find out if they stocked each desired piece, and to ask for minimums and lead times. I liked that I could visit some of these providers at a moment’s notice to place a small order. Others required appointments and larger purchase orders.


For anyone looking to be in fashion design, I highly recommend making the trip to the New York or LA Fashion District to learn what’s out there, and to find out first hand what kind of pricing you can get. Learn the difference in quality with your materials to ensure you do it right the first time. And if you can, make it to a textile show, where you’ll find fabric and trim sources from all over the world.