You might think that, in fashion, a designer’s “big break” comes in the form of a splashy runway show or a big profile in a magazine. For many, it certainly can—but, oftentimes, you’ll find that it’s the moment they sold their very first item that really sticks with them, even years later, as the moment something clicked. Think about it: With that first sale, someone is literally buying into and validating a designer’s vision and craft. Aside from being the foundation of a business, it represents something larger, and can feel just as crucial as a good review or celebrity endorsement.
We spoke to 18 fashion designers about that first. It could be the first collection they designed that made it onto store floors, or the crafts they peddled amongst encouraging family members and friends that made them a few bucks; in some cases, the item is still considered one of their signature offerings, but in others it was simply a stepping stone for growing into their own as creatives. Look back on the items that sent designers on the road to launching their namesake brands, ahead.
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