Tricks for supporting local designers without spending a fortune

12 November 2017 by National Bank
Des trucs pour encourager les créateurs locaux sans dépenser une fortune

Are you the type to stalk your favorite designers on Instagram looking for discounts? Here’s how you can support local designers without spending a fortune.

Tricks from a fashion-loving student

Yang Shi is a psychology student, model and stylist on the side, and the keyboard player for the group Ouragan. Passionate about fashion, she has more than one trick up her sleeve when it comes to assembling a wardrobe full of beautiful local pieces, without losing her shirt. Here are five of her tricks.

1- Follow your favourite designers and boutiques on social media

“Warehouse sales, sample sales… Local designers generally announce their promotions and events on Instagram,” affirms Yang Shi. “Instagram is really a must in the fashion world. And like anything else, when you buy local, it’s always more affordable to buy last season’s pieces.”

2- Become an Etsy regular

“Many, I’d even say most, local designers don’t have the means to open their own boutique, so often they open a shop on Etsy, where you can find clothes at good prices.” By cutting out the middle-man, you’ll get a better price and more money ends up in the pockets of the artist or artisan.

3- Stay on top of pop-up shops

“Local designers will often create pop-up shops, or participate in events like temporary markets that highlight local designers. It gives them visibility and it’s less expensive for them than having a boutique year-round.”

4- Choose your pieces well

“There’s no doubt that clothes made by local designers cost more than what you’ll find in the major chains. But clothes created here are also often better quality. When you take the time to choose pieces you really love and that will last a long time, you’re making an investment. It’s also better for the environment, and you avoid ending up with a closet full of low-quality clothes.”

5- Compromise on foreign manufacturing

“Major chains and little Quebec designers alike all manufacture their clothing in Asia, which allows them to keep prices far lower. It’s a compromise that will allow you to support local designers while still getting great prices.”

Station-Service: Why not rent your locally designed clothes?

Love wearing clothes form local designers, but can’t afford to invest in a whole new wardrobe every season? Raphaëlle Bonin created for women like you.

“As a student, I was a huge consumer of clothing because I loved having new things, but I found myself with a ton of clothing that I either never wore, or barely ever wore, most of which I ended up donating,” she recalls.

After watching The True Cost, a documentary on the impact of fast fashion on people and the planet, she wanted to find a way to buy less clothes, while still dressing in the latest fashions. While chatting with a friend, she came up with the idea for her local clothing rental service. She ended up using it as a project for an entrepreneurship course she was taking at HEC Montréal.

Now, for a handful of dollars, you can rent a piece from a Quebec designer on Station-Service for a week. And it’s delivered to your door, by bike!

“Our service is ideal for women who attend a lot of events where they need to sport a new look every time, like actresses and entertainers,” suggests Raphaëlle Bonin. “It’s also a great option for women who don’t have big budgets, but want a beautiful dress for an event. Or for someone who wants something a little funkier for a special occasion.”

The recently launched Station-Service aims to offer more and more sizes, types of rentals, particularly memberships, as well as more and more clothing created exclusively for the rental service.

And if you’re out of the loop on the work of local designers, Station-Service is also one of the best sites to discover their creations.

“Personally, I wasn’t that well-acquainted with Quebec designers before I started working on my business idea, mostly because I didn’t have the means to buy their clothes,” says Raphaëlle Bonin. “Since I started taking an interest, I discovered just how talented our local designers are, and I’m happy to have them at the heart of my business, and to be able to make their creations accessible to a broader public.”

Local clothes – a fair price

Why buy a dress from a local designer for three times the cost of something you’d find in a chain? We talked about it with Karen Quirion, the woman behind KQK creations.

To what extent are your clothes made locally?

“I make it all here. I buy my fabric from local suppliers, I create my own designs, I make my patterns with a team and I have a production workshop in Thetford Mines, my hometown. A lot of hours of work are carried out in Quebec for every piece I create and produce in small quantities. It’s nothing like the way things are done in the big chains.”

What are your strategies for reducing production costs?

I always choose the best possible materials: I never compromise on quality. However, I do choose suppliers that allow me to buy in small quantities to avoid losses. And these days, I barely keep any inventory. Our pieces are mainly made to order, with the exception of those that we know we’ll be able to sell a lot of, quickly.”

How do you sell your creations?

“Mainly on my website. It works, because all the profits from sales come to me directly, but the challenge is in visibility. I’m also on the international site,” explains Quirion, who studied fashion design at the Notre-Dame-de-Foy campus in Quebec, as well as fashion marketing and public relations in Milan.

“In Montreal, my collection is at Cabinet éphémère at the Centre Rockland. It’s a place where you can find lots of Quebec designers. It’s still rare to find shops that will take a chance on a Quebec designer.”

It’s not impossible to wear local designers without investing a fortune. Although it definitely requires a bit of effort and creativity. What strategy will you use to do it?

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