When measuring light, one lumen accounts for a single unit of light. As far as names go, LUMIN Clothing seems to be a name that fits well, considering this team of young designers were the winners of the Sunglass Hut new talent search at last year’s SA Fashion Week.
LUMIN Clothing was founded in August 2014 and is run by Amy Lui and James Barret-Poulsen, with a team of 10 assisting with the manufacturing of their pieces.
These young designers have already made an impact on the most prestigious catwalk in the South African fashion industry, and Counting Coins wanted to find out what it takes to make it in the unpredictable and ever-changing world of fashion design.
1. Firstly, tell us how you got into fashion design? Was it a childhood dream?
For both of us it was childhood dream, but not necessarily one that was encouraged by our parents. That’s not to say they didn’t want us to follow our dream, but the fashion industry can be very tough, and they were just concerned about us earning a living!
We both love the creative side of fashion designing, but there is a lot of planning and strategising that is involved too, which we really enjoy.
We met whilst studying fashion design at LISOF in Joburg, and became friends. A while after graduating we reconnected, and that’s when we decided to start our own clothing label.
2. Your latest collection showcased at SA Fashion Week received great accolades – what was your inspiration for the collection?
We’re deeply inspired by Eastern design, particularly Asian countries like China and Japan – but we always like to include South African quirks in our looks. This particular collection was very much inspired by Japanese avant-garde design, but made in to a more wearable style.
3. Being a talented artist does not automatically make someone a successful entrepreneur. What challenges do you face when it comes to running your business, and how do you overcome these?
In our industry cash flow is quite a big challenge. We only make money after something has sold, and it’s generally paid sometimes up to 30 days after. So it’s important to always be up to date with your financial balances – and plan ahead so you know what to expect and what you’re capable of manufacturing, etc.
4. What is the fashion market like in South Africa? Do South Africans appreciate high-end fashion? In other words, can a fashion brand be a lucrative business in South Africa?
The South African consumer is slowly discovering that they can buy designer clothing that is locally made, and not just international brands. So, it can be a lucrative business, but one must be patient and educate South Africans about the benefits of buying locally manufactured designer clothing.
5. What do you think the future of the fashion industry in SA is? And what can ordinary South Africans do to help the industry grow?
We feel there is a bright future ahead for the SA fashion industry. We’re a relatively new player in the global fashion arena, but there are many dedicated people working hard to grow it slowly but surely.
Ordinary South Africans can definitely play a part in helping the industry – when shopping for clothes, look for South African made clothing (we have some great designers!). Sometimes these items may be a bit more expensive, but they are totally worth it, and more money ends up going back in to the SA economy, as opposed to buying international brands.
6. What advice do you have for someone who wants to enter this industry? What does it take to be a successful fashion designer?
We recently realised that one good attribute to have in this industry is stubbornness. When things go wrong (which does and will happen), you must be “stubborn” enough to not accept defeat. Realise what your mistake was, figure out how you can do better, and then put the plan in to action!
7. The start-up cost for a business like yours is rather high, do you have any advice for someone who wants to start on a limited budget?
Do as much as you can yourself. Put in as much of your own money as possible, and borrow from friends or family instead of a bank if you can. And if you still need help from other people and you have a limited budget, offer them your time and knowledge through a skills exchange.
8. Who are your role models, and why?
We look at successful people within our industry as “inspiration” rather than role models. It’s a good starting point to see what other businesses have done to become successful, and while it may not always be right for our own business, it will give us insight in to what we can do to achieve our goals.