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Fashion 101

Real Talk: A Designer’s Role

Let’s talk about what you should and should not be looking for when vetting a designer for your project. Just like any other working relationship, one should take the time to do some research on who they are thinking about hiring on for a project.

There are literally thousands (if not millions) of people out there calling themselves ‘designers’, and while they may love fashion and may be able to sketch like a goddess (or god), there are other more more important things to consider before partnering up. So, I’m just going to dive right in and give it to you straight.

THIS IS WHAT A DESIGNER SHOULD DO/BE

  • Obviously, they need to be able to sketch. Whether it’s by hand or CAD they should be able to convey the design living in your head onto paper.
  • A good designer can sketch. A great designer can offer technical advice on the ideas the client has. If a zipper would work better as a closure than the buttons the client wants, the designer should be able to call it out from the get-go. Which leads me to…
  • Listening. The designer needs to be a grade-A listener. Remember, the client is usually seeking out a designer because they’ve come up with a brilliant idea but just aren’t sure how to put it down on paper. It is the job of a designer to listen to the client’s needs.
  • Organized. It’s rude to be 2 minutes late to an appointment either over the phone or in person), and we here at CBC live by the orderliness of a well-organized calendar. We’re sticklers for a calendar. Designers should be organized and prepared. Always.

THIS IS WHAT A DESIGNER SHOULD NOT DO/BE

  • Ego stars. Bad designers will let their egos run rampant when singing onto a project, forgetting that they were hired on to create, yes, but to create around the parameters set by the client. Unless a client asks a designer to go buck-wild and have a free-for-all, they need to be able to stay in their lane.
  • Easily discouraged. There is some subjectivity to the work of a designer. Yes, we should be following the direction of the client and their needs, but at the end of the day we are creating work that can be subject to scrutiny or negative feedback. This should not lead a designer down an emotional path. A great designer should be able to accept feedback on the work presented, ask for more guidance on the client’s vision, and move forward with a positive attitude.
  • Late. Designers can sometimes tend to be a little loose with a calendar. A great designer will give you a deadline, and hit that date (assuming she/he as all she’s requested from the client to deliver the work).
Categories
Fashion 101

FYI Friday: Vocab Pt 2: Production Abbreviations To Know

This Friday, I am offering a list of some high-level production terms that you should take note of.

  • SKU – stock keeping unit (each style has it’s own special unit number in order to keep track of the style throughout seasons)
  • CAD – computer aided design (for sketching, tech packing, etc)
  • QC – quality control (post production, when you or someone you hire looks over the goods to ensure they are made as per your contract and design, and that the quality is acceptable for shipping)
  • L/D – lab dip (a test dip of a customer color you plan to use for a fabrication)
  • S/O – strike-off (a print test)
  • WIP – work in progress (a WIP report ensures you stay organized and stay on task/on calendar with your production goals)
  • K/D: – knit-down ( a swatch knitted up to test specific knits you want, for sweaters etc)
  • PP – pre-production (a sample will be sent to you before beginning production to ensure all specs, components, etc are correct before cutting the bulk fabric)
  • TOP – top of production (production has begun, and this sample you will receive reflects how the rest of the production will turn out)
  • SY – sample yardage
  • SMS – salesman/photo sample

Running production can be a daunting task – it takes great attention to detail and organization.

Casual Brand Creative offers production management, and we are here to answer any questions you may have!

Happy Friday!

Categories
A Kick in the Ass Fashion 101

Things To Consider When Starting Your Brand

I want you to have your fashion brand dreams realized.

I do.

I want you to have all of the creative fun putting together what your first line or product will look like. To feel the fabrics, create patterns and colors that you’ve dreamed about. To see the designs that have been sitting in the back of your mind realized, down on paper, rendered.

I want you to feel the accomplishment that comes with learning about the process and work that goes into building a physical garment.

I want you to build a brand that will one day be profitable, and sustainable.

I want you to have a really great time at your first photo shoot with YOUR product being shot!

I want to sip that champagne with you when you receive your first orders, be it online or through a wholesale account.

I want all of these things for you.

But in order to do any of these things, there are a lot of things to seriously consider before you decide to jump in and commit. And commitment is the baseline.

A few key considerations to reflect on before committing to starting your apparel line

Money

I feel like this should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people I speak with come to me wanting to build a product and brand without any real financial commitment to the project.

This is not to say you need to be a millionaire to start something. Different projects will require different financial commitments. If you are starting off with 1 sock design, you will not need as much money prepared as for, say, someone looking to build a 10-piece collection. Which brings me to…

Product Range

How many items are you looking to start out with at the outset? You should have a solid idea of what it is exactly that you want to do.

One thing to note, is that you do not need to have a huge collection to start off. In fact, I work with a lot of individuals looking to launch 1-2 products in the beginning. And that is totally fine. I will say, however, that those 1-2 products should be the best in their category if that is the product that you will announce to the world as your brand.

Time

Cliche but true: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your line be.

If you are sampling and producing in the US, you can expect sampling to take around 1 month for 1 sample (and usually you will need at least 2-3 rounds of sampling, depending on the complexity of the garment). Production will usually take around 10-12 weeks.

If you are sampling and producing in the overseas, you can expect sampling to take around 2-3 weeks for 1 sample (and usually you will need at least 2-3 rounds of sampling, depending on the complexity of the garment). Production will usually take around 3 months.

Production Minimums

You will be har-pressed to find a quality manufacturer to make 50 units of one style for you.

Prepare for at least a 100-300 style minimum order requirement. And that usually covers 1 color.

So, of your minimum order requirement for 1 style is 100 units, and you want to offer 2 colorways, prepare to order 200 units for that particular style.

Calendar

As a brand, you need to consider the calendar when beginning design. If you want to be in the wholesale business to sell to retailers, you will be on a less flexible calendar than someone who is doing a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business. Buyers buy at certain times throughout the year to fulfill their seasonal inventory needs, so if you want to sell to them, your collection needs to be ready to show at specific dates.

If you’ve considered all of these points and are confident that it’s time to move to the next step, I encourage you to reach out to us at create@thecasualbrandcreative.com.

And even if you’re not confident…we’re here for that to!

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Uncategorized

Sample Making 101

Once you have finalized the sketches, tech packs, and fabric sourcing portion of your design phase, the next step toward your end goal is to have some samples made of the product you are intending to produce and sell.

Clients tend to have a lot of questions once we get to this point. I see a lot of confusion surrounding sample-making. So, I am hoping I can clear up a little but of the confusion by going over the top 5 questions I am always asked:

Q: Who makes my samples?

A: Not me, personally. Though I wish I was equipped to own every sort of machinery used to make your product into a wearable garment, I do not (and, even if I did have all the awesome machines, I suck at sewing). This is why we here at CBC tap into our curated network of sample-makers to get the job done. We decide which vendor will be best for your project, and have them get to work! Preferably, we will partner with a sample-maker who is also able to run your production. The benefit here is twofold: 1) they will understand the product we are producing right off the bat and 2) we would not need to run costing exercises with multiple partners after the samples are made.

Q: When does sampling take place?

A: Here’s the process: a) The sketch/design/tech packs are approved b) fabric and trim sourcing is complete and sample yardage has been ordered (*Note: trim sourcing can be an ongoing element and is not 100% necessary to be finalized before the sampling stage, though you should have a good idea of the type of trims you want to be used in the end product). (c) Samples are made once sampling materials are received.

Q: What does it cost?

A: There is literally no way to guess at what your samples will cost. If you go to someone and ask for a cost for a design without, at the very least, a tech pack, run the other way. Unless, of course, you are working with a pattern/sample maker directly.

Q: What happens after the first sample is made:

A: Once the first sample is made, we will fit the sample on a body/model that you have chosen to be your fit standard. It is important to note that there are usually about 2-3 rounds of sampling necessary to get to your desired fit and design. Once we have a final fit, we can move to the next stage, which is production!

Categories
Fashion 101

DESIGNOLOGY

When starting your own line, the design process is always the most sought-after position in any company. This is mainly because it offers the most space for creativity (which is why we all went to fashion school anyway, right?), and if you are starting your own line you have that much more room to play. But even though designing is a fun part of the process, it’s still a calculated and collaborative process. So if you think you think you can sketch and create away to your heart’s desire, take a beat and consider the below.

Designing is a critical first step in the development process. It’s fun, but it’s not a free-for-all. And here’s why:

The design process involves a lot more than just dreaming about a ridiculously buttery leather jacket and then throwing that idea onto paper and expecting to see it for sale on your website in a few months. It’s not going to morph off the sketch-pad into a live product without a tedious and meticulously calculated process, with many hands in the mix.

A designer is the captain of the developmental ship. Thus, the designer should be responsible for:

  • Understanding the company budget (you can’t create a leather jacket on a pleather budget)
  • Understanding fabric, and how it will work with your design and budget
  • Understand fit
  • Be able to express the construction elements desired
  • Understand the brand image – in other words, is the design on brand?
  • Designing a product that can be achieved with the available resources (do they have a manufacturer that has the capabilities they require for the design)? And if not, what alternatives could be presented OR how can we source the necessary resources?
  • Keeping on-track with the developmental calendar
  • Designing product that will sell

These are only a handful of responsibilities that a designer needs to be able to navigate and manage. This is why the design process is usually comprised of a team rather than a single individual in order to create the best product for the brand.

Fasion designer sketching clothes drawings at the table with tailoring tools and laptop

Categories
Fashion 101

FYI Friday: A Vocab Lesson

This just in: in addition to all of my services offered, I am also teacher extraordinaire.

More often than not I work with clients that have no clue about anything in the industry (which is great for me, because it’s always fun to teach new things to people!).

So, this week for FYI Friday I put together a list of “apparel industry words/terms” that anyone thinking of starting a brand should know, in regards to process. Happy Learning!

  • Tech Pack – I get asked what, exactly, this is a lot. A tech pack is basically a Bible for your manufacturing partner. It will have all the details regarding any given style you are creating, such as: sketch, color, print, fabric information, construction detailing, measurement specifications, sizing/grading information, trim information, stitch info. Every detail about the garment should be outlined in a tech pack.
  • Bill Of Materials – This will be part of your tech pack. This will outline all of the fabric and trims you are using on your garment.
  • Sample Maker – A sample maker is just that- a person who makes a 1st, 2nd, 3rd sample of your garment. They may or may not be the same person who will be running your actual production. It depends on their capacity.
  • Grading – Grading is when you create the size range you want for your garment. From the base sample size (say, size M) a grader (or your tech packer) will determine the adjustments needed for each pattern in order to have different sizes of the same garment. For example, sizes XS-XL.
  • Pattern – Yes, sometimes I get asked what this is. I am not referring to the pretty floral pattern of your shirt. That shirt didn’t just pop out of no where – it started from a paper (or digital) pattern. In order to know where to cut and how to sew the garment, one must follow a pattern to do so. Like baking star-shaped cookies. You need to use a cookie-cutter (pattern) in order to get the correct shape of the star, yes? Same thing for a shirt (albeit a little more complicated than pressing a shape into dough).

These are a handful of terms I get asked about on a regular basis, so we will start here.

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into the actual process if design & production.

Happy Friday!