Founding a new business is extremely difficult for various known reasons. To succeed, it is presumed that the business is meeting a need or solving a problem, which makes it product or service indispensable, thereby guaranteeing success.
In starting a fashion business, attaining this formula is more complicated – how do clothes ever solve a problem in the true sense? This is a question we will constantly strive to answer, but for the time being, we are comfortable answering this question with ‘exceptionally well made, beautiful clothes that make a woman project her best, individual self’.
Applying this litmus test to all our pieces has been interesting, and we found that some pieces (such as our Military Dress) fare spectacularly and unsurprisingly, resonate the most with customers.
As with many great things, the Military Dress was born out of a challenge – in 2015, Ezinne Chinkata commissioned us to create a special look for her using a gorgeous Vlisco Pret-a-Creer fabric. The Pret-a-Creer is a pre-selected combination of two yards each of two complimentary fabrics. The initial response was total alarm – I had prematurely sworn of fabric combinations for some strange reason! I knew that there was no way I could create a look that made sense without combining the fabrics, and had no choice but the set about sketching... I have always loved a ‘utilitarian’ theme in fashion, and thought it would be fascinating to juxtapose utility with femininity and prints, and the Military Dress in its first incarnation was born.
When The Ladymaker launched formally in 2016 with our first mini collection, The Military Dress was one of our key pieces, with a few adjustments to the neckline and length to make it as versatile as possible.
Time and time again, the overwhelming favorite has been the Military Dress, making it our bestseller by a mile! The best part about this is that we have been able to connect with our target customers through our designs, and it is heartwarming to hear customers reel off the different places they intend to wear the Military Dress to.
So a great lesson learned for us – find a distinct voice through your designs and run with it!