Iconic women in fashion and how they succeeded
Updated: Aug 13
The creative industries are known for being some of the hardest to break into, this includes fashion. With so much talent emerging, there is a lot of competition. This can be hard to navigate, but there are ways to stand out and progress your brand. Looking at other success stories and taking inspiration can help you know where to go next. We wanted to talk about some iconic women in the industry, and show you how they succeeded.
As an experienced figure skater, Vera Wang already had an eye for fashion. Her first step into the industry was as a sales assistant, at a high-end boutique. Then going on to work at Condé Nast for 16 years. For some of those, she was an editor. For three years, Wang designed a series of accessories for designer Ralph Lauren.
While searching for a wedding dress, Wang noticed there was a lack of a certain style. She identified this gap in the market, and decided to start designing bridal wear. This developed into creating a deal with David’s bridal, allowing her designs to become more accessible.
As she expanded her range of products and designs, she wanted there to be affordable options. From this idea, she got a deal with Kohl’s. They stocked a more accessible every day range for shoppers on more of a budget. Her ranges extended from fashion, to homeware to jewellery.
She is now the leading couture wedding dress designer. Wang has gained a huge Hollywood following. Two of the Kardashian sisters hired Wang as their dress designer, with Kim wearing 3 dresses.
2. Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood started in fashion after meeting Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren. She originally designed for SEX punk boutique in London. Showcasing her extravagant styles and anti-establishment messages. The store became a staple in alternative culture in the 70s. It became so successful by filling the gap in the market for high quality punk and alternative clothing. It also echoed the anti-establishment messages of that time.
She started creating her own solo creations in the 80s, with her name already pretty well known, especially in London. Westwood worked on expanding her label. Starting to include menswear ranges and jewellery.
In 1990, Westwood received the title of British designer of the year. She also received an OBE from the queen. Westwood is known for her unique styles and staple pieces. Her corsets and orb logo are universally known and loved. Her pieces have been worn by celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Gigi Hadid.
3. Stella Jean
Stella Jean had always been passionate about fashion. Dean entered Vogue Italia’s ‘Who is on next?’ competition twice, and failed to qualify both times. But like they say, third time's a charm, and Jean competed. Not only did she compete, she won.
A few seasons later, her collection of dresses were released and completely sold out. After her win, she was heavily supported by Giorgio Armani. Armani selected her to be a part of his show space in Milan. He also allowed her to make use of his communications team- this was the first time Armani had done this for a designer.
Her collections are made with sustainable fabrics. Jean also makes sure the trade workers for her collections are treated fairly.
Jean’s pieces have been shown in the New York FIT museum. They have been worn by many celebrities, like Beyoncé and Rihanna.
What do we take from this?
Finding a gap in the market can be a crucial part to success in fashion. Clients will be looking for something, and you could be the one to provide it. Another important aspect to remember is networking. Meeting new people, talking to industry professionals can teach you a lot. It can also give you opportunities you may not otherwise find alone. Finally, take chances- trust your skills. Taking that first leap of faith is always the hardest, but can take you further than you’d think.
Elemntz can offer any designer or brand trying to break in the industry with our high quality services. We offer mentoring, brand consulting and marketing and distribution to help progress your brand. We can help introduce you to the industry, along with elevating what you already have. To learn more visit: elemntz.co.uk
Written by: Abby Ashenhurst
Digital content executive @ Elemntz