As we often find ourselves reminding one another, Rome wasn’t built in a day. This mantra, of course, can apply to everything from stocking a spice drawer to building a fashion design career as successful as Diane von Furstenberg‘s. It takes time.
This morning, Lucky and the Council of Fashion Designers of America co-hosted a breakfast panel for New York City students—moderated by Eva Chen and the chief executive officer of the CFDA, Steven Kolb—to discuss this very subject with four emerging designers who know the trials and triumphs of making it in the business better than anyone. As part of the CFDA’s esteemed Fashion Incubator program, Nonoo’s Misha Nonoo, Nomia’s Yara Flinn, Kaelen’s Kaelen Haworth and Katie Ermilio openly and inspiringly discussed the many facets of breaking into womenswear.
Kolb discussed his preference for the term "new generation" over "emerging talent" because, after all, that’s what they are. "Once you’re part of the family, we don’t let you fail," said Kolb. And as today’s current legion of heralded designers (think Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, etc.) begins to retire, a new flock of talent will arrive vetted and trained to take their place.
While the ins and outs—ranging from production to sales overseas—of the industry were thoroughly discussed, a major theme of the talk was bravery. When asked about the first major step of creating a collection, Nonoo said cheekily, "Well, you make some clothes. You make a collection." The remaining three young women agreed wholeheartedly. "Be brave enough to seize every opportunity that comes your way," responded Ermilio.
Just as courage serves as a necessary characteristic for any up-and-coming designer, it’s equally crucial to understand and react to criticism. "You should surround yourself with people who will give you an honest opinion," said Nonoo on the topic. "You can’t grow without criticism."
When questioned about social media, all six panel members unanimously voted Instagram as their favorite platform. Why? Said Flinn, "It allows those of us who don’t write for a living to share facets of our lives and our business." Haworth also put it well: "Social media serves as a portfolio for you. It’s a helpful tool for people breaking into the business."
One final aspect the four designers agreed upon was something we can definitely get behind: they would all kill to dress Beyoncé. With their fierce determination, gracious demeanors and serious design chops, we’ll take bets that Beyoncé will approach them sooner than they think.