This cape came out beautifully for our fall line and the sequin fabric itself is designed so that it flips from gold to silver (my absolute favorite sequin design). I get asked a lot if I “actually” design and so I thought it was time to share about my design process and how it all works.
Rag and Bone Denim (fits awesome)
Steve Madden Pumps (similar)
I’m a true merchandiser and what that means is that I review design, cost, sales, and what my customer may love and have loved. I’m not designing just to design what I love, but I want to design what you will love. Going into this holiday collection, I knew our last year’s velvet cape was a HUGE hit – we sold out by mid November. With any collection I look at trends, I look at what sold last year, and I look at what I think I can afford to produce and sell.
This year I wanted to go modern glam for our fall line and my inspiration was black and white pieces with touches of gold. Our line is always feminine but I wanted ruffles, lace, and great textures. I always start with an inspiration theme and go from there.
1) I look at magazines and rip out a bunch of inspirational photos I love and figure out color story, textures, and what I want the overall feel of the line to be.
2) I lay out styles I want to do by # of skus. Such as 4 outerwear, 4 tops, 10 skirts, etc as a starting point and also I research on how many did we had last year, what did well, what drove sales. This is where merchandising and budgeting and business comes into play. I have a plan and I have to cover sales properly. A lot of analysis is done here that help drive our styles.
3) Sketches and CADs and photos. This is where I know I’m a merchandiser. I’m a horrible drawer, but I’m really good at taking elements of items I love and piecing them together and I’m good at specifications (measurements for garments). I have a preliminary sketches before I go into fabric selection but a silhouette isn’t finalized until I feel and touch fabrics or see prints that work. I knew I wanted a few capes, wool as well as sequins, and pencil skirts were also a new thing I wanted to try this season.
4) Fabric selection and designing all happens in China. 3-7 days of searching warehouses, meetings about fabric, weights, prints, etc. I lay out all my prints and textures to make sure they all go together. And I know which fabric goes into what styles and how many color variations. This is where I nail down exact silhouettes, styling, and how the overall collection will look. Prints are a mixed bag of available prints and prints that we create. For prints we create, I have my graphic designer send files ahead of time so that when I arrive I can see samples on actual fabric.
I feel like my design passion comes out in this process of step #4. I can picture the look of the collection with 4-6 girls from head to toe and merchandise and style the collection in my head. The week in China is tiring but I get so motivated and excited to see it all come together.
This is our current fall/holiday picture, which is exactly how I envisioned it in my head:
5) All the info regarding fabric minimums, unit production minimum and cost goes into play of how many units we create, what my price point will be and also when they arrive. I have to budget out my money going out the door for all my units (the most painful part about owning a business) and how do I get money in to cover costs and everything else.
6) I calendar out all production and when they arrive the next steps are marketing, photography and how to sell it to the customers.
This whole design to production process takes less than 30 days as we try to get items to our customers as fast as possible. Being on trend at the right price during the season is extremely important to us. I pack the whole design process in at once so it’s a bit stressful during these creative times. At my corporate fashion jobs this process took 9-12 months!
The hardest part of the process is the inspirational part and wondering if you guys will love it. It’s nerve wracking and stressful but all so rewarding when I see that our customers love it and feel good in our designs. This is a quickie overall view of my design process recapped into 6 steps. It happens every quarter and time flies faster than you think. Even now after launching the collection I can’t believe November is next week.
Take a peak if you haven’t already at the full fall collection. And let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading xoxo.
Happy week and this week is our big fall event! You get up to 25% off everything. Start shopping here.