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Fashion designers as business: London

Wendy Malem (London College of Fashion, London, UK)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 11 July 2008




This paper aims to provide an insight into how fashion designer businesses work and survive in London, with an understanding of business techniques and the survival strategies of British fashion designers.

Design/methodology/ approach

The initial research demonstrated a need to define “innovation” as well as recognise the approach of “creative people” in business by exploring existing literature. This was followed by a series of structured interviews with nine British Fashion Designers in London, and three with intermediaries aimed at putting the designers' activities within a business context: a fashion PR; a lawyer specialising in fashion business and a creative director of a fashion distributor.


The research suggests ten survival strategies employed by fashion designers. The five fashion designers in a sustainable business all operated all of these principles. Those no longer in business operated between one and five of these principles. As designers gain experience and realise their “value“, there is evidence that they can get leverage for contractual agreements with licensors, which has led to financial growth of the designers' businesses. Strategies for diversification and consultancy, if managed without diluting design values, have also led to business growth and stability.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is required to consider innovation and entrepreneurship in the different creative and cultural industries, particularly concerning issues and challenges for the creative person.

Practical implications

The implications are that designers need to be quick to understand the business and wider environment in which they are operating. More published material needs to be widely available to them concerning role models and business models relevant to this unique and problematic industry.


The value of this original research is to share experience and inform designers and practitioners of current practices.



Malem, W. (2008), "Fashion designers as business: London", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 398-414.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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