Categories
A Kick in the Ass

Now or Never

This year has been a fascinating one. In the beginning of the pandemic, I was quite sure that things would really slow down as far as my business was concerned. No one was looking for a designer, much less a production house, amidst a nation-wide pandemic, right?

SO WRONG. I was so. Wrong.

This year has been my busiest to date and after speaking to client after client about their goals and why they’ve decided to start a clothing line NOW, I’ve realized that for most people, it’s now or never. Their work has either drastically mellowed, or faded altogether. I realize that for some this pandemic has completely changed peoples’ livelihoods, but for those who reached out to me, it was because they saw their newly-cleared calendar as an opportunity to do something they’ve always wanted to do-start their own product line.

It’s a refreshing change to be able to speak with people who’ve taken their lemons and are choosing to make *sweet* lemonade. They’re choosing to do something productive with their “down” time and I have SO enjoyed meeting and working with all of these ambitious individuals.

I wanted to write this post in case you, too, are on the fence about starting a new project. There is a lot of new opportunity to be had as people and companies shift the way they are clocking in for work.

Wonder where the best opportunities lie in the next year?

  • Activewear
  • Loungewear
  • Streetwear
  • Sleepwear

If any of these categories has been on your “someday” list, I dare you to take a leap of faith and just do it. For most of us, it really is now or never.

Categories
A Kick in the Ass Fashion 101

A 15 Page Guide from Concept to Production

Hello, you.

Glad you stopped by, because today I am sharing some free knowledge on the apparel design process from concept to shipped product.

I normally reserve this on-boarding guide for new clients who don’t know anything about the industry, but I’ve had a lot of requests for more content like this, SO I bless you with a quick 15-page guide that I hope will give you a peek inside the fashion world and what to expect when diving into a new project.

I’d love to hear from you with questions, so DM us @casualbrandcreative or email lauren@thecasualbrandcreative.com. Until then, happy reading ❤

Categories
Fashion 101

Forecasting Trends

Forecasting trends today is completely different than it was 10-20+ years ago. It used to be that there were top players in the forecasting game who worked for companies like WGSN, Doneger, Trendswest, etc. They’d travel the world, going to fashion shows, immersing themselves in the street culture and snapping pics of the most forward-thinking dressers in whatever beautiful city they found themselves covering. They’d sit through the glamorous fashion shows and take note of necklines, skirt lengths, sleeves, color. They’d then take the rolls and rolls of film they used, get the pictures made, and start creating mood boards and stories around the information they’d collected.

Today, the same is true of trend-spotting, but the difference is that the forecasters behind the lense of the (iPhone camera) are you and I. Social media and the internet has completely changed the way trend information is shared and created. There is no longer a formula; no more rules. This makes a designers job both easier and harder.

One the one hand, it is easier because there is so much free information available at our fingertips. All we need to do is swipe through Instagram and follow top bloggers. There are also loads of publications and magazines you can subscribe to on a monthly basis that is still cheaper than paying $10-20k a year for trend forecasting services. As a designer, you can build a pretty solid collection using this free information.

On the other hand, because there is so much information and things are constantly changing and moving, it is hard to keep up. A skirt length that seems to be trending today and for the next month may be old news in the 9-12 months before you are able to develop and launch the idea.

How can I effectively design a collection without spending a years’ salary on a forecasting service?

If you are on a calendar where you need to be designing 2 years out, unless you can see into the future I highly recommend using a forecasting service. A couple I recommend:

Fashion Snoops is a very budget-friendly choice for freelancers and small business alike.

WGSN is the top choice, but is very expensive and not necessary unless you are a bigger company.

If you’re not looking to spend money, here are a few great places to find good information on trends (that is not Instagram):

  • WWD
  • Any women’s fashion magazine like: Elle, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Marie-Claire, W Magazine, InStyle
  • Apparel News
  • The Business of Fashion
  • Top Fashion bloggers with large followings
  • Tradeshows
Categories
Fashion 101 technical design

Fit Consistency Matters

Ever wonder why you wear a size 6 in denim brand and a size 4 in others? A size small in some shirts and a medium in others? 

It’s all the donuts you’re eating while maintaining your yo-yo dieting techniques.

OMG KIDDING. Had to though.

It’s quite simple. Different brands use different human bodies to fit their base-size product. So, even if two different brands are using their base size medium model, those 2 bodies could vary. Giving you one brand offering a size M that fits differently than another brand’s M.

So, what about when the same brand is offering 2 of the same styles, and those same styles in size M seem to fit you differently? Well, there are a few factors that could contribute to that:

  • If they are a larger company, it’s possible that they use different fit models across their different category of product. For instance, they may have one model for their knit category, and another for their wovens.
  • It could simply be a manufacturing mistake. Manufacturers are people too- they’re not robots. When they are building garments, they have a certain tolerance range they are allowed to hit from their target measurements. So, if they are delivering the final product 1″ smaller in circumference in the waist of a pant, while it might be allowed by the buyer and approved to ship, it will be apparent to a return customer if the fit is different than their previously purchased pair.
  • Another reason could just be the inconsistency of the brand in their fitting habits. If they are using a new fit model every time they fit, their fitting is going to be inconsistent. In that same lane, brands should be fitting on models whose body types represent their target customer. For example, if you are gearing your brand to a middle-aged woman, you shouldn’t be fitting on an 18-year-old.

Inconsistent fit can really hurt your brand. If it’s all over the place, or never seems to stay the same, you will lose the trust of your customer. You should be able to re-purchase your favorite tee from your favorite brand and not worry that it won’t fit. No one likes to make online returns.

Stay cool. Stay consistent.

Categories
Fashion 101

Mood Board 101

Mood Boards are exactly what they sound like. They are made to represent the overall mood and vibe of the collection you are creating. They are essentially a brain dump for all of the ideas that pop into your head surrounding color, silhouette, fabric, design details, etc.

Yes, it’s basically your ultimate Pinterest board.

They are extremely useful for a designer when she/he is beginning to build a design concept, and ultimately the range plan. Before I even begin to consider design work for a client, I ask to see their mood board. Without it, I cannot possibly understand their design goals! It would be a waste of my time and their money if they booked me for design, let me run rogue and design whatever I want, and then turn in work that they don’t like because it was completely different than their vision.

Not only are mood boards critical to a designer’s role, they are also a really strong tool for the client. By laying out all of their ideas in one place, it is easier for them to organize and set themselves up for what exactly they will need to ask from a designer in terms of concepting and building out a range (or line) plan.

Mood boards are a lot of fun to make.

There are no rules when putting together a mood board. They totally bring back high-school vibes from when you were younger – cutting magazines to shreds and pasting all the images that spark joy to a large science-fair-esque whiteboard and displaying them proudly for all to see.

I mean, you’re probably not going to do it that way now (unless you want to, remember there are no rules here) when we are living in a digital age. I want to recommend a couple places that I’ve found work best for putting all of your ideas in one place:

  • Pinterest This is the obvious one as it is literally a mood board for all things. It’s a great tool for organizing specific categories – you can break everything down: Color, Silhouette, Overall attitude, fabrics, design details, trims, etc.
  • Canva This is also a really great tool that let’s you basically make your school vision board, except digitally instead of pasting onto a huge foam board. You can drag images and manipulate them on the board as you see fit.
  • Illustrator Since I do own this software, I use Illustrator to build out my ideas. The downside is that all of my images that I want to use will be living somewhere else (like Pinterest) anyway.

What Should I include on a Mood Board?

For a third time, there are no rules when it comes to making a mood board! So have fun with it. BUT if you are creating in in order to pass along to a designer so that she/he can create a really dope concept for you, please include the following:

  • Color Is extremely important. Unless you are going to be using a lot of pop colors and loud prints, don’t include rainbow everything on your board. The colors should represent the type of palette you want to use for your actual collection. Want to build a line plan with only core colors like black, white, navy, and grey? Those are the colors that your board should consist heavily of.
  • Silohuette Are you trying to build out an activewear line? Don’t send your designer a mood board with ethereal, flowy gowns.
  • Fabrics See above. You don’t need to have the specifics nailed down (that’s why you are hiring a designer!) but again, if you want to do activewearI wouldn’t present a board showing ball gowns.
  • Target Customer Designing for grandma and her dopest friends? Don’t represent children on your board.

That’s your mood board, in a nutshell.

Here’s ours, just for fun and for the sake of the post.

Now go have some fun with it! Have more questions? Either comment below or email me at Create@thecasualbrandcreative.com

Categories
fabric Fashion 101

FYI Friday: Fabric

As promised, we’re coming at you on this fine Friday to have a little chat about fabric.

Fabric selection is a kind of important when you’re in the design phase of your project.

It’s also where I run into some setbacks and ??’s from clients, mostly due to the lack of understanding surrounding the process of sourcing fabric. So, I am hoping to clear up a few hazy spots regarding the subject.

Sourcing the right fabric is not easy or quick. Most companies spend months sourcing. They spend $$ going to trade shows. As a project manager, when I am sourcing fabric there are a lot of factors I have to consider when selecting options:

  • Fabric content Does the client have certain specifications for what they want their fabric to consist of? Recycled poly? Merino wool? Does it need a special finish?
  • Fabric weight You have to take into consideration the end product. If the fabric needs to have a slinky drape, it cannot weigh the same as your bottom-weight fabric selections.
  • Minimums. This is a big one. For the majority of start-up brands, I highly recommend using fabrics that are stocked, or that are readily available at the mill or wholesaler. That’s because it is tough to find a fabric that you can customize (with your own color or print) at a low enough minimum to make sense for your project. So, mills will sometimes “stock” fabric that are purchasable per roll, as opposed to having thousands of yards as minimums if you want to customize. A lot of times, mills will stock best-selling fabrics in colors relevant to the season.
  • If you choose to do custom colors or prints, you must understand there will be fees involved, especially if you are not hitting the minimum order quantity (MOQ). You will run into weaving charges, general surcharges for falling below MOQ, and dye charges.
  • Price needs to be considered as well. You can’t be buying a $20/yd fabric if you are trying to retail your product for $69.

The Big Question: Where Can I Source Fabrics?

The Big Answer: Hire a pro.

Unless you have time to go to trade shows, or run all over LA or NYC to meet with fabric vendors that may or may not have what you are actually looking for, hire someone who can understand what your specific needs are and send you some selects.

A good sourcing agent should be able to navigate the parameters previously mentioned and provide fabric solutions.

The Casual Brand Creative is here to help you with any fabric sourcing needs. We have beautiful relationships with mills all over the globe and are confident we can be a great tool for your project. If you have any specific questions, email us at: Create@thecasualbrandcreative.com and we will guide you in the right direction.

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!

Categories
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