The end of January saw the release of a new fashion competition TV show series – Next In Fashion on Netflix. The premise of the 10-episode show Next In Fashion was – win $250 000 cash prize and being stocked at Net a Porter. 18 fashion designers who were pre-selected to take part, were initially paired off and after every task, a team was eliminated until four teams were left. Then the teams were broken back to the designers working on their own. Through different tasks, a winner was selected.
What was great about the Next In Fashion on Netflix series, unlike other reality TV competitions, is that the focus on design and creativity (as opposed to the drama that results in this type of environment) was maintained. The show was fast-paced, well-timed and engaging from the start of the first episode, right until the end.
As I binge-watched the show and the episodes advanced, I was reminded why I love fashion so much. Above all, I was reminded of what it takes to win – a TV show or your own life and business “show”.
Here are my seven great Lessons from Next In Fashion on Netflix show.
1. Technical skills matter
Good ideas are great to have. Execution is what makes them stand out and be successful.
In the show, everyone was creative and had amazing vision and ideas. But the ones who could sew and pattern cut were the ones who were eliminated from the show last.
When a creative fashion designer, who lacked skills was paired off with a strong skilled designer – the results were great.
But as soon as the pair was broken off and each designer was left on their own – the creatives who had great vision and ideas, but were unable to put an outfit together, lost in the challenges.
Technical skills matter. Especially at the beginning.
Being able to have an idea and vision and bring it to life just the way you want it – or even better through the process of developing it, as a priceless skill.
When you are bigger and able to employ people, delegating is great and allows you to scale and grow faster. But even then – if something is not working out – how can you explain and spot what is wrong and how to fix it if you cannot get stuck in and do it yourself.
Some of the best and most innovative designers were highly skilled. They created trends and movements. They were leaders and trailblazers.
Think of Alexander McQueen who was a masterful pattern maker, Galliano, Hussein Chalayan, Vivienne Westwood, Simone Rocha and many, many more. They all started small and in full and complete charge of executing their ideas to end products.
So never underestimate the importance of mastering technical skills. It is never too late to learn.
2. The importance of collaboration
Many creatives are introverts and prefer to work alone. The creative process is often intense and solitary.
It is a fact, however, that if you want to create a business around your creativity, you must learn how to work as part of a team.
Working together with other creatives or other businesspeople and employees is imperative for great results and success.
Outside of your business, successful collaborations may lead to more exposure and press, winning competitions and generally more opportunities compared to doing things your way and alone.
For a good collaboration to work – you must learn and be open to compromise on your vision and ideas perhaps, hear out the other person(s) involved, roll up your sleeves and do work that may not be your favourite.
When was the last time you collaborated with someone on a project? How can you benefit from a new collaboration? Don’t wait for it to come to you – make it happen for yourself.
3. The negative cost of bad temper
Whether you work to a deadline or not, managing your temper and temperament is super important.
If you allow frustration and anger to come in between you and the execution of your idea or project – your work will suffer. Valuable time will be lost on negative emotions and ultimately it will affect your actions.
Any decisions made from a place of frustration and anger will most likely be wrong and will need to be corrected later.
So – what do you do when you are faced with frustration and things are not working out the way you want them?
Take time out! Get some headspace and come back to the situation, problem or challenge with a fresh mind.
As Einstein is famous for saying – you cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created the problem.
Get help from a peer or colleague. Do something else and let the solution mature in your head. Start again or try something new prepared that it may not work out. But what if it did work out and developed into something new and unexpected?
Above all – keep calm and controlled.
Learn to manage your emotions, because they ultimately guide and result in the quality of your actions.
4. Learn how to work to deadlines
As with any business, it is important to learn and be able to work to deadlines.
That means managing your workload and expectations.
Most importantly, being able to clearly think through the task required and get to the end result within the time frame allocated is imperative.
In fashion, most projects have definite timelines. Just as in the Next In Fashion on Netflix competition, success means delivering a great product on time.
If you miss the deadline or deliver sub-standard product – you stand to lose your reputation, money and sometimes even your business.
In the fashion industry, collection launches typically are presented and delivered in seasons. Managing the many moveable parts and co-dependencies is all part of the parcel of project management. Executing an idea, creative or otherwise, is less about the creativity of the idea and more to do with the actual execution.
Working to a timeline is a skill that with time and practice gets better. You learn what is possible and not to achieve within a given time.
Related reading: What is a critical path and why your business needs it.
You learn how much you can achieve alone and where you need help. You learn where is crucial for you to be involved in and where is best to delegate and get others on the job.
In business working to timelines is unavoidable. So accept it and learn how to work to a deadline.
5. Getting outside of your comfort zone
When creative entrepreneurs form a brand and business, often their creativity suffers. It gives way to the demands of the business and the need for commerciality in order to secure sales and remain operational.
Very often, designers for one reason or another fall into a “comfort” trap. They know what works and therefore sells and they keep designing more of it.
The buzz and passion they first felt when they started often are lost and forgotten.
Ultimately, growth does not come from anyone’s comfort zone.
Growth and success come from pushing boundaries, experimenting and doing something new, or something familiar in a new way. Taking risks and stretching beyond the familiar.
In the competition designers had to create looks and garments in categories they had never contemplated to enter …ever!
There were tears, there was fear….but at the end they all came through it stronger and more able. Happy that a barrier was broken, new skills acquired and excited about the new opportunities now possible.
Challenge yourself to do something new as often as possible. Learn a new skill, try designing a product from a new category you are not familiar or comfortable with. Face your fears and do it.
6. Do something to reignite your creative spark
When creatives run their own businesses – large or small – it comes a time when the demands of the commercial aspects of the business take over. Before you know it – you know something is not right but you cannot put your finger on what it is.
This missing feeling often is YOU. Your true self and creativity are most likely drowned in the mundane tasks and demands of the business.
All designers in this TV competition without fail acknowledged the fact that taking part had reminded them why they got into fashion in the first place. They were reminded of the excitement that being creative, taking risks and pushing beyond their safety felt like.
This new surge of energy will no doubt translate into new positive moves within the business and have positive long-lasting ripples.
So whether it is applying to take part in a competition or collaborating with someone on a crazy project – seek out and take on opportunities that allow you for a short time to not think of the sales and money something will make but be free and create from your heart and soul. Reconnect with the feeling that made you start your business in the first place.
Your future YOU will thank you.
7. Your first idea is your best idea
How often have you had an idea and sat on it, discussed it with friends and family and talked yourself out of it?
Or someone came up with same or similar idea before you. Or you took your time to make it happen – busy tinkering and perfecting it.
When time is of the essence – and in fashion – let’s face it – time is always of the essence – your first idea is often your best idea.
Take it and run with it.
Perfect it later.
You can create a single product or a collection in 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years. But the longer you take, the less likely you are to succeed.
Often in the process of “perfecting” you lose the essence of the original idea. You oversimplify it, overcomplicate it or overanalyse it.
But in reality – the rules of business are simple.
Money likes speed!
Success likes action!
Results come with taking imperfect action.
If you are a creative – fashion or otherwise, watching the Next In Fashion on Netflix competition show is inspiring and informing. Take what you can from it and apply to your own reality.