What is the magic formula to make it in the fashion industry as a designer? The answer can be complex. It is usually a combination of "it" factors. The process and outcome is also different for each designer. When we think of fashion, it can appear to be all glitz and glamour. However, it is a competitive industry, and you must be determined, work immensely hard, and believe in your talent. As an artist, you must have something to offer that is different or exciting.
A touch of luck never hurts either.
The Fashionopa TV series gives a rare and intimate look at the stories, struggles and successes of eight aspiring entrepreneurs in the 2.5 trillion dollar fashion industry. The eight designers are an eclectic and talented group based in Southern California. They all offer something different and have along their journey. Also, a team of guest experts, including Kim Alexis and Brian Smith, contribute to the series. Kim Alexis is an American model and actress famous in the 1970s and 1980s. Brian Smith is the Creator of UGG Footwear, one of the most recognized brands in the world. Each designer's path is different regarding how they market and sell their product. The series starts Sunday, 02/04/2024.
The designers feature Alex Angelino, Madame Methven, Lisseth Corrao, Medhi Raad (designer for Maceoo), Reggie Banks (designer for the brand Sagii), Camille Wood, Crystal Danielle, and Christian and Kilian Rosier (Patara Shoes). The designers produce brands from high-end menswear to haute couture lingerie, cocktail dresses, designer shirts, athleisure wear, accessories, and shoes. It is a fashion dream! In terms of marketing, selling, and getting their brand noticed, it differs for each designer and this makes it intriguing.
Therefore, what makes a clothing line, accessory, or brand catch fire and take off? What does it take to succeed? What are the backgrounds and stories of those that do and do not? The designers, the runway shows, the models, the personalities, the negotiations, and the breaks are all studied by experts and celebrities who guide us through Fashionopa: Building a Brand.
Ken Gora is the talented producer of the series. Ken is a TV and film Director/Producer and a sought-after expert in product placement. Two of his award-winning TV series, "The Romance" and "VC's in a Van," have received nominations at the American Reality TV Awards, The Indie Fest, San Diego Film Awards, and others. His programs have aired locally and nationally on Cox TV, Time Warner, Dish Network, Amazon TV, and Apple TV. He recently worked on the feature films "Paradise Cove" and "Almighty Zeus," winner of the Best Feature Film Award at the 2023 San Diego Film Awards. The short film Fashionopa was selected for the 13th La Jolla International Film Festival.
Gemma Magazine had the fantastic opportunity to speak with Ken and get the details on the series. Gemma Magazine is super excited about this and cannot wait for the series to start. Ken and I talk about building a brand, designers staying true to their aesthetic, challenges within the business, and why Ken felt compelled to make this documentary/series.
How is Fashionopa different from other fashion television shows and films?
Firstly, Fashionopa is not about a fashion competition. Many TV shows that center on fashion are competitions. Also, a good majority of fashion TV series are primarily biopics of one person (Ralph Lauren, Versace, Calvin Klein) or one designer. We are looking at eight new designers as well as the fashion industry. We are taking a look at what designers go through and the fashion industry overall.
What inspired you to make this documentary and feel motivated to learn about the fashion industry from behind the scenes?
I was filming a television series and a film, which both accentuated fashion. I kept running into designers at events with my cast and crew. Then, I got to know many of the designers individually. I was inspired by their backstory, their journey, and their designs. I found it fascinating and thought other people would enjoy hearing and seeing these stories. It's exciting and authentic. Every designer's path is different regarding selling and marketing their brand. Various designers sell only online. Only some designers are in a boutique or department store. The bottom line is that everyone has a different path and a unique way of running their business. Therefore, I decided to make a show out of it.
Do the designers have a common thread they all face regarding challenges?
The first would be financing. For many new designers, the financial challenge would be making enough to compete with more prominent retailers. The second would be how you can grow fast enough to keep up with demand, and the third would be how to get the word out about your brand and what makes it different. Many designers are creative personalities but not always business savvy and a plethora of skills are necessary to run a fashion brand.
How do the designers stay relevant (as trends come and go so rapidly) while remaining authentic to their aesthetic?
Most of the time, these designers know what it is about their unique designs or an expression of their fashion sense. Sometimes, they may see a void in what people are already wearing out there or an improvement or nuance to a current trend. It is that nuance or addition/change to what is already being done that separates some designers.
After speaking with all the designers, what did you learn?
I learned that to be successful, you have to work extremely hard and acquire a sharp business mind. If you are not business-minded, then you need to have someone on your team that is. Many of the designers are more apt to have a creative personality, which is fine but both creativity and business skills are necessary. I also learned that there is room for new fashion, even when you think it has all been done already.
What do you feel the guest experts bring to the show? Expertise but different perspectives on fashion because of their different backgrounds. Kim Alexis (the 80s supermodel) gives a view from the runway. She was one of the original eight supermodels and has appeared on over 500 magazine covers. She has also walked the runway for top fashion designers in NY and Milan. On the other hand, Dr. Bernstein (Dr. Fashion) offers more of an educational approach. He has taught and chaired Fashion Marketing and Design Programs for several universities. Brian Smith of UGG brings the expertise of someone who has actually built a large, successful brand and clothing line from the ground up. Therefore, all the different perspectives make the show interesting and compelling.
How do designers balance creativity with budget and time restraints when producing a project?
This often involves incorporating a distributor, a Social Media manager, or an investor to help delegate tasks. Knowing how and who to trust is an art in itself.
The Fashionopa TV Series will air nationally starting Sunday, Feb. 4th, at 9:00 p.m. It will air on COX TV Network, Time Warner Spectrum, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Roku Channel.
To keep up with FASHIONOPA, follow them on Facebook:
Also, check out their website to learn more about the designers and the fashion experts: www.fashionopa.com