Measurements, calculations and technical drawings aren’t words that conjure up excitement for most creatives, however they are a crucial part of getting designs from idea to reality. As a fashion designer, chances are you’ll be working with a garment technician, but how do you get them on board with your vision? Vicki Wallis from fashion consultancy 29andSeptember Studio shares her tips for communicating your concepts in a way that production experts will understand.
- Consider the possibilities
If you want to elevate your brand and set yourself apart from other labels, you first need to know what’s out there and reflect on the options. Construction and pattern cutting may seem uninspired at first, but it’s quite the opposite. Considered, innovative finishing details are the difference between an aspirational garment vs the copy you’ll see on the high street a few months later. There’s a reason some brands exude quality, while other’s look like their designs won’t last a season. When briefing a garment technician, make sure you outline your quality expectations.
- Explain the details
When you’ve got a vision of how you want your garment to come together, keep in mind that as designers, it’s our nature to embellish and create something aesthetically pleasing, whereas the technician’s job is to think practically. They’ll be looking for the most effective way to produce your items, which may not be what you envisaged. If there’s some intricate details that you wanted to include or forward thinking construction techniques, be sure to convey that message.
- Don’t forget the back
It may sound obvious, but over half of the design ideas I receive from clients don’t show the back. They’ve no doubt put considerable effort into creating a design which represents their brand and what they stand for, so why leave the back to someone else’s imagination? Clothing isn’t a 2D art form, so make sure you consider your ideas from all angles. The back is often a way to surprise people, catch their attention or add special details, so don’t limit yourself to something generic by leaving it up to someone else.
- Be specific on fabrics
If you’re new to the industry, this is one area that I’d encourage you to learn about. Try to visit fabric shops or trade shows regularly to get a better understanding – fabrics can be very inspiring, so it’ll help your design ideas too. Communicating the fabric type is one of the most important things you’ll have to do – the look of the design totally changes with the fabric. Many people offer vague direction, such as ‘100% Cotton’, which to a clothing technologist is very unhelpful. Cotton can be knitted into jersey t-shirt or sweater fabric, woven into denim or bedsheets, to name a few, so be clear on what you mean exactly. If you don’t know the industry terms, show some examples of fabrics you like.
It’s only natural to want to present exciting fashion illustrations of your designs, but try to keep in mind the real life proportions of the wearer, whoever that may be. Many illustrators use the ‘9 heads method’ to create aspirational fashion looks, but in reality, these aren’t the proportions of most people. Be mindful of how your drawing will be interpreted by someone else – a painting evokes different feelings for different people – the same is true for fashion illustrations.