Designing Women: Inside the Fashion World of Canadian Sisters
by Marianne Salina
Fashion Career Center Columnist
When Beckerman sisters Caillianne, Samantha, and Chloe dreamt of becoming fashion designers, they were still little girls living in Toronto, trading sketches of dresses in the back of their family's RV. Now in their twenties, the Beckerman sisters attended the same fashion design school in New York, Cailli majoring in Knitwear design, Sam in accessories, and Chloe in surface and textile design. While the sisters have won praise from their school and New York fashion houses, the real challenge has been the creation of their label, Beckerman, as they stake their claim in the $298 billion US fashion industry.
How Do You Create Buzz After Fashion Design School?
Most fashion design schools require a senior thesis project--a collection of designs usually ranging between six to eight pieces. The Beckerman sisters collaborated on their projects, adorning two mannequins with eighteen boldly colored pieces, including knitwear and accessories. Since their design school is conveniently located in New York, fashion representatives from Ralph Lauren and Coach stopped by to view the students' projects and cast votes for awards. The Beckerman sisters not only took home a monetary award from ElleGirl Magazine, but they were also recognized as notable new knitwear designers in Nylon Magazine--generating the buzz they needed to start building their label.
Beckerman: Financing a Fashion Design Label
Even though the Beckerman's received offers to work in major fashion houses, the women chose to strike out on their own and start their own label. With very little venture capital available for new designers, the sisters had to rely on thrift and creativity for their first batch of samples ordered by Loveless Boutique in Tokyo. Using the yarn leftover from their thesis collection and vintage materials, they pieced together an entire line (eighteen pieces) for under $1,000, when most designers spend between $10,000 and $20,000.
Beyond Fashion Design School
In addition to their fashion educations, the Beckerman sisters, like other top designers, rely on Premier Vision--a color guidance firm out of Paris--to help them select the colors that will hot for an upcoming season. Additionally, the sisters spend about $25,000 a year on publicity and marketing--sending out samples to celebrities and hosting fashion shows to generate an interest in Beckerman. So far the label is proving profitable, allowing the sisters to afford their Manhattan apartment, finance their label, and fulfill their fashion design dream.
About the Author
Marianne Salina has a B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing and enjoys researching and discussing the myriad of fashion design pursuits in her columns.