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“To me, fashion is like a mirror. It’s a reflection of the times. And if it doesn’t reflect the times, it’s not fashion. Because people aren’t gonna be wearing it.” – Anna Sui
Sometimes, it feels like quite the uphill task to design based on themes, preferences and moods, and do the whole thing over and over again every few months. For any process to succeed, the key determinant is empathy.
Consumers look at fashion as wearable art. For most people, a style is a form of expression. Even those who claim not to pay much attention to clothing are still making a statement- with the clothes that they do wear.
The Design Process
Let’s look at the fashion design process from scratch. Integral to success of the process is also how an understanding of your audience can set you up for superior results.
1. The Brief: Failing to plan is planning to fail, they say, and so it goes for the brief. The fashion brief includes everything from identifying the target customer, understanding their needs, the season of launch, the price points and size ranges.
2. Trend Forecasting: This is the part where you give consumers what they didn’t know they wanted! This is how new trends are born, and sustained. Understand data from prominent fashion houses and forecast reports from all around the world. Adapt to suit your needs.
3. The Basis: Once you have a list of trends for the upcoming season, you need to drill down to the trends that you do want to focus on. For example, it may not make sense for a bohemian brand to suddenly morph into vibrant athleisure. However, this doesn’t mean that they should entirely stay away from active wear either. Trends need to be adapted to suit your business’s promise.
4. Collection Planning: This is the step where you decide the number of silhouettes and the number of designs you want to showcase per silhouette. As a business, this is the step where budgets come into the picture. Too wide a collection can increase sales but eat into your budgets, while too few options can put people off.
5. Mood Boards: Your designs are almost ready to come to life. This is the phase where sketches become fabric interpretations. Observe the play of light on each garment.
6. Inspiration Board: Now, you have all the material you need to be inspired from! The Inspiration Board serves as a style guide of sorts to help everyone on the team refer to when in doubt, and draw from at other times.
7. Garment Flats, and Customization: The book of illustrations with every piece in your collection will serve as a reference point for manufacturers and team members alike. Make it comprehensive. If your products have print and embroidered details on them, now is the time to get started.
8. The Tech Pack: This is the blueprint for every piece of clothing that you will design in the collection. It has details ranging from the style description, trims and fabric details, size range to the placement of prints.
9. Feasibility: Once the samples are ready, evaluate the pros and cons of taking this collection into production. Don’t be afraid to drop the pieces that aren’t up to your standards.
The Human Element
Oftentimes, in sales, it is easy to forget that all products are being created for a very specific consumer with very specific tastes. As a business person, you must understand your end consumer very well. Use personas, mock interviews and even real interviews to understand what they do expect, and also that which they want but don’t know of yet.
After all, some of the most stunning trends in fashion have come from a house that knew what its consumers weren’t saying- think miniskirts, punk rock and even power suits!
What new trend are you gearing up to start? Are you following due process?
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Supriya Ghurye is the founder and owner of Fuel4Fashion. She is a Freelance Fashion Designer and Brand Consultant helping fashion brands to create great products from idea to launch. Fuel4Fashion social links: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram