Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Are you still there? Did any of you brave the previous post in full?! Well as promised I am also revealing my design processes for this apparel project, so this might be more appealing to some of you.

It's been a productive day, but I confess that this picture summarises how I made it through the day - and it's only day two!

If you are interested in reading about the design process then click on the link below.
WARNING: You may want to prepare with a “cuppa” and chocolates before hand (or save it for a weekend read!) – it’s even longer than my previous post!

I really am the queen of procrastination - even when I am busy!

It’s been a pretty productive day. I have managed to chat to my new client about my research and early design direction thoughts, and was relieved to learn that the “girls” ranges can now be designed “in-house”.

While I would have loved to design the girls ranges as well, it was really pushing my timelines, and adding to my stress levels! It does complicate things slightly as I will need to draw all of the final garment shapes for both the girls and the boys ranges, so that the “handwriting” of the presentation looks consistent. This will still be much quicker than me designing the full ranges though!

Obviously I can not show you the final story concepts, but I have gathered some progress images to give you a feel for the processes, as promised.

Are you getting the feeling that I place A LOT of emphasis on research?! It’s such an important element in the design process.
At the design level, the research is all about TRENDS. In Australia this still tends to mean “what’s happening overseas”. I do tend to think that we focus too much on what everyone else is doing and that in some ways it makes the industry more of a commodity, but you can read my thoughts on this here.

That said, it IS important to have some understanding of what is happening overseas as it will inevitably have such a strong influence on what everyone will be doing here within the next few seasons.

The real challenge is to understand these trends in order to know how to make your product stand out from what everyone else is doing. My experience with the large retailers is to do this within the boundaries of also being seen to be right “on-trend” with your ranges. So I guess you need to find a unique way to INTERPRET the trends.

I get a lot of colour trend ideas from what’s happening in the stationery and homewares industries. If you watch the markets you will see that a lot of the fashion trend setters get their inspiration from this area anyway, and it eventually trickles down into the more commercial and identifiable mainstream trends anyway.

Colour is my favourite design element and I could quite easily just spend my days putting together colour palettes and inspiration boards. I always draw ideas from everywhere, and like to add textures and fabrics to my boards when I get the chance. I would usually do more detailed boards such as these for the start of seasons,

and would then move to smaller and tighter boards for actual range designs such as these.

There are professional “trend forecasting” services throughout the world that many industries rely on to keep up with market movements, one of the leaders is a business called WGSN. This is used across most of the industries I have worked in and is a wealth of knowledge. It’s quite expensive to join up and they are extremely strict on keeping access and passwords confidential, so I am unable to access this resource for research. I have spoken with the inhouse designers of the client I am working with to get a general idea of what they are learning from this service.

I have always drawn inspiration from many other areas, and the internet provides so much information access anyway. I have also gained an insight into world trends simply through participating in the blogging community!

I need to know what’s happening with the latest garment shapes. Are shorts above the knee or below the knee. Are big pockets the go, or hidden pockets, should I use contrast stitching, or matching stitching. There are so many options and decisions that researching gives you the confidence to make those decisions.

Here’s my research, right in the thick of things! And yes I am working in the lounge/kitchen as I needed all the bench space!

This is basically getting and idea of what themes your range might take, such as fishing, sporty, heraldic, environment, or whatever. This can have quite and impact on the customers purchasing decisions. Many Major stores buy in items rather than stories, so this approach may vary depending on the wholesaler you are working with.

This is more about the style of artwork that your range will reflect. Are strong solid shapes and colours popular? Or detailed technical images, or hand drawn art? This is all part of the trend analysis.

Are metallic prints popular, or embroideries, badging. Is there some hot new technology that has impacted on printing or embroidery options. Technological advancements can often have quite an impact on the apparel industry.

This can have a big impact on pricing and quality, and is also trend driven to some extent.

This is a really important area that can too easily be overlooked. When putting together ranges that include multiple items, it’s really important to give the customer choices in purchasing, but it’s also important to give them a reason to buy EVERY single piece in your range. This can be challenging, but it’s all about balance. I am ultimately looking for the customer to make multiple purchases or to gain “add on sales” within the range.

This can be done a number of ways:
1. Giving the customer varying price points to select from within the range.
2. Product styling. By mixing up the types of tops and bottoms within a range you are potentially catering to various needs, rather than giving them various options to satisfy one need. Does this make sense. Basically, there would be no point in offering 3 styles of denim shorts in one range, when you would probably have more chance of multiple purchases by offering one denim short, a cargo short and a more casual board short. Some of you may disagree on this one, but it is the approach I have taken. If I also include a cargo short and denim short in the second range, then I would make sure it was very different to the one in the first story so that the customer would still have a reason to buy two of the same type of item it they wanted. Does this make sense?

3. Varying the colour balance. i.e some striped/checked, some solid colours, some tonal colour mixes and some strong/loud contrast pieces etc.

4. Graphics. Some large dominant graphics, some softer, more subtle,….positioning of the graphics on the garments.
Here’s a sneak peak at my first thoughts on this: I am a really messy sketcher when it comes to roughs, but they get better as my ideas progress!!

I am also designing across two age groups. It makes more economic sense to carry the one story into both age groups in order to share fabrics and to reduce manufacturing costs. It is also important the styling, fabrics and graphics reflect the differences in the age groups. It worth mixing up the colour balance a bit too to make the ranges look a little separate from each other, even if this means using a fabric only once in one of the stories. Perhaps a colour that was only a highlight in older boys become a key colour in the younger boys version.

Imagine two brothers who might be in the different size groups and I am sure that even at this young age a 5 or 6 year old does not want to be dressed the same as his “baby” brother!

It’s all about the add on sales!

Of course the way that all of this information is interpreted into product is ultimately cost driven! At the end of the day, certain markets have retail price point expectations and you must be able to work within these constraints if any money is to made from it! How terribly unglamorous, hey?!

I am now ready to start drawing up the garment shapes and sketching up some graphic concepts.

I will try to make this a more concise report instead of this novel! I have my full time job interview tomorrow, which I will give you more details on, and netball tonight! Busy days I tell ya, busy days!


Tamsin Ainslie said...

Love your blog, very inspiring stuff! Thank you for linking me from your blog. Great to read about your design process, helpful and interesting to see how other designers go about their work, one question, what do you find is the best way to promote yourself as a designer /illustrator? Thank you!

natascha said...

Thanks very much for sharing your work process. I start sometimes like you...with a looot of m&m's or smarties!
Thank you very much for your comment on my blog.

Danielle McDonald said...

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Tamsin I will answer your question in my next post - you've really got me thinking on this one!

Marie-Louise said...

so many sweet colours...

kirsten said...

i love this picture! and i can totally relate. sketch design for me requires constant caffeine and snacks. preferably chocolate ones.