How expensive is fashion design in Mexico?

Studying fashion design, opening your own business, and succeeding in the fashion industry has a price. We tell you how much it is in Mexico
Photo courtesy of PIXABAY.
10/09/2017
13:30
Aldo H. Saldaña
Mexico City
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Fashion design, like any other profession, depends on several factors to be profitable. Beyond the glamour, being able to create a profitable business in Mexico is seen as an extraordinary feat, in no small part due to the investment and entrepreneur's vision required to make it happen.

To find out how expensive it is to design fashion in Mexico, we've interviewed several professionals from various areas of the industry. There are several variables impacting the final cost of each stage, and many calculations were made based on specific situations – such as the fashion show section, which considered both a small show and a larger show financed by the designer herself.

Dad, I want to study fashion design!

For anyone interested in this field, the most important first step is to look for information on education – technical or academic. There are some vocational schools, such as the Training Centers for Employment (CECATI, in Spanish), managed by the Ministry of Public Education, which have accessible prices and whose graduates excel at tailoring.

Talking about higher education, there are different options to learn several techniques. The TALLER Fashion Development Program Project can charge up to 15 thousand Mexican pesos (MXN) for a basic course in Fashion Design, while the Design, Cinema & Television Center has a tuition fee of 62 thousand MXN per semester, approximately. Other institutions are even more expensive: “in the Iberoamerican University, [tuition] is around 25 thousand pesos per month for six courses,” according to Nathalie Arellano, a student of the University.

Meanwhile, Gustavo Prado, consultant at the Photo-museum Cuatro Caminos and one of the most important fashion scholars in Mexico, considers the price is higher: “I think in total it would be around a million pesos. There are universities with [tution fees] over 20 thousand pesos, and we still need to consider living expenses of the student. We're lost in education formats that only focus on the manual and not in marketing concept development. Luckily, each case is different.”

Now that I've graduated, I want my own brand

Mexico is one of the countries with the most irregular labor conditions: low wages, few or zero benefits, and undesirable work spaces are just a few of these; however, national fashion firms usually have their own workshops and, in some of them, the conditions are a bit more gentle.

Wages depend: a seamstress may earn $ 2, 500 pesos a week, plus social security; a junior designer, maybe around 7 thousand, but wages do vary,” explains Giovanni Estrada, designer at Trista.

According to Mr. Estrada, one of the most renowned designers in Mexico, setting up your own workshop can cost close to 60 thousand MXN, for – at least – three sewing machines (straight stitching and over edging), cutting tables, services, and other tools.

Regarding the fabrics, Estrada mentions they are usually problematic because many are imports and it duplicates production costs; thus designers have to look for wholesale prices or choose low-quality fabrics, where 100-meters rolls are sold for little over 2, 500 MXN; while one meter of silk sells for over 500 MXN per meter.

Registering your mark isn't free either; it has an estimated cost of 2, 457 MXN, but if you want a logo done by a professional, the price can double. If you hire the services of a branding company, consider they usually focus on mass advertising and the project, plus their fees can go beyond the 100 thousand MXN.

Opening your business

Unlike the United States or Europe, the budget for models of a campaign in Mexico is relatively low. “15 years ago, big campaigns with a national agency model had a budget of 150 or 200 thousand pesos. Today, if we're lucky, the budgets are for 40 thousand pesos,” says Miguel Ángel López, model manager with more than one decade of experience.

When talking about lookbooks or similar photo shoots, prices can be included within a publishing budget, that is, between1,500 and 3,00 MXNfor the entire shoot, which allows several brands to hire a professional model to display their collections. According to Mr. López, low budgets are also affecting the model agency market. His models need to accept larger amounts of works so they and the company can earn an income.

Meanwhile, the photographic team is an additional cost. “It depends on the brand and what they want, but for a lookbook by independent designers in Mexico, I charge 10 or 12 thousand pesos,” says Sergio Orospe, fashion, music and celebrities fotographer. A day of shooting is around 20 thousand MXN.

And to all this, you have to consider the costs of hair & makeup (Adisson Álvarez, our collaborator in this section, says the cost of each is close to 3 and 8 thousand MXN), an art director, scouter, producers and members of the catering team, which according to Virginia Flores, have developed campaigns for firms susch as Zingara. “This is the team needed for a publicity shoot. It's usually more expensive to produce in Mexico, because of the models' fees, but the price is better for the rest of the teams.”

When advertising your campaign, you have to consider digital and print publicity, at the very least, and there are several offers. You can spend 25 thousand or 141 thousand MXN on an advertising space for a magazine, while your average banner and in a fashion website can cost 55 dollars per day (981 MXN). Many times, these spaces have to be purchased as packages, reason why the costs increase and many entrepreneurs decide to spread their campaign through their own websites and social networks.

Become the talk of town

The communication department is where several brands, especially new-born ones, decide to minimize costs. This is also a fundamental area for your buisness, because it manages the interaction channels between the designer, the press and the potential clients. It's the best way to showcase your work.

“Public relations, tariffs and strategies are always confidential, but they depend on the budget and the agreement reached with each client. Yet something extremely basic can be done for 30 thousand pesos per month,” says an account executive for an international agency, who has asked to remain anonymous for professional reasons.

As for social media, promotion can be free, but you can also hire someone to do it for you for a monthly budget: “I can do it for 7 thousand. Less of one half of what I earn. Community Manager does everything: copy for social networks, blogs, managament, all,” explains a digital strategist, who has also requested anonymity due to strong legal clauses.

Where the magic happens

You can do a quick Google search to find out property listings in Mexico City, and see that many of the rents in the areas where the boutiqes – and potential buyers – are, is high. An average rent is 30 thousand MXN per month, plus services, and land use procedures, necessary remodeling and all that is needed for the grand opening.

Setting a digital store is a very different matter, and total expenses (platform, hosting, payment methods, technical support, and all) can require an initial investment of 70 thousand pesos.

Or you can use platforms such as Kickink, which organizes shipments in exchange of a commission of the 7.5 per cent of each transaction.

Showcasing your talent

If you want to present a simple collection in a borrwed venue, no models, no catering, “This can be the most budget-friendly solution, but not the ideal; you increase your chances of being seen if you do something spectacular,” says the public relations executive.

Being sponsored by another brand or company, like the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Mexico City is another option. “The cost is between 400 thousand and half a million pesos,” says José Manuel Borbolla, communications director of this fashion platform, “It includes invitations, digital and printed advertising, international and national press, makeup, catering, and more,” thanks to the support they receive from the Government or other sponsors, this platform is capable of paying 75 percent, or more, of the total cost of an event.

If you want to develop a massive event on you own, the prices increase exponentially, according to Verónica Alemán, event producer who has worked with firms such as Chivas Regal. “You can do something amazing with 600 or 800 thousand pesos, and some of the expenses include the runway, audio, lighting, rent of the venue, and others. You can save some if you have agreements with makeup sponsors or if you use the audio available at the venue. It seems like a large sum, but the big brands of other countries spend millions in just one fashion show.” she says.

Is it profitable?

It's hard question to answer, but both, Prado and Estrada have very concrete opinions about it. “For someone who has a clear view of building a brand and has investment possibilities, it may be profitable. Yet a large percentage of students I've met hate tailoring, and when they graduate they go on to other activities, which is why I'd recommend they focus more on marketing,” says the scholar.

While Estrada believes it can be profitable and some expenses can be reduced, yet the quality of the final product is what will ensure the survival of the brand. “The products we design aren't aimed towards a wide sector of the market, they're for a very specific niche that understands and values design. We aim to offer specific products to meet the demands of a sector of the market which can afford it,” he claims.

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