Launching and running a product based fashion brand more often than not, revolves around the creation of collections: the quality of these collections and the consistency of that quality and presentation, is often what sets successful brands from the rest. In the third episode of our guide on how to create your fashion collection, we focus on the creative design process.

Signature Style
It’s vital to know how to design a commercially strong fashion collection, that is cohesive and makes sense to the buyers. A successful, sellable collection must have a signature style. It’ a collection that tells a story, through product, where all the pieces work well together and merchandise easily.

One of the main elements a good collection must have is a signature style, that although it may evolve over time, should from the start be consistently present and recognizable. Your signature style is what will set you apart from other designers and make you instantly recognizable. It can be based on one or more of the following: certain uses of colour, shapes, patterns ( e.g. Missoni’s stripes; Burberry’s check), techniques (e.g. Bottega Veneta intrecciato), motifs or particular use of materials. How you use these signature elements in the process of telling a story through product, is what creates your design aesthetic.

Shaping Silhouettes
At this stage, you have to decide what style you would like for this particular collection. Think about whether you want a more relaxed style (think hippie chic vibes), or is it going to be tailored and smart. Will you have a lot of detailing or is your collection going to be minimal, with an emphasis on fabric, rather than trims? What type of accessories can you think of that can go with your look? This can be a favourable way to assess what the styling of your clothing will be. All these considerations are key as you want your collection to look cohesive and well balanced.

Now you have to consider how this silhouette and look sit with the trends and inspiration you are using (remember our lesson on looking at trends in this article?). Bear in mind the target market of your customer, as the trends and ideas you choose here will be in correlation to this. If your market is middle aged women, for example, the trends will filter down to a more classic style and shape. Similarly, if you are designing for a younger teen to young women market the trends they will buy into will be more current and have a ‘fast fashion’ feel to the silhouette. The focus here would be on taking inspiration on detailing from the newest catwalks, using very little consideration on time constraints.

Generating ideas
Best way to start is jotting down all your thoughts, ideas and preliminary sketches into a sketchbook. Sound obvious, right? You would be surprised: some people think that when the time is right and they need to tell their factory or pattern cutter what they want, the idea will suddenly flow from their brains!
It’s really important to keep a document of what you are thinking, as this is what your collection will be eventually. If you are not formally trained as a designer, then collect imagery from online sources and printed matter of what you wish to convey. You can employ a designer to sketch your initial ideas, from the visuals that you have collected.
If you are a trained designer, then this is your cue to really think outside the box, in terms of generating maximum ideas from your early inspiration research and trend collation. How far can you stretch the direction of your ideas to produce something “wow”?

Key details
If your ideas generation has been successful, then establishing what your key details are going to be for your collection will become a lot easier. Key details are about specific design elements and trim details you will use in your garments. What is it within the garment being designed that marks it out to be a part of the trend or inspiration you are using?
For example, a rock-chic look will be enhanced by using some studding detail in places on your garments, as this will be part of the cultural reference or even part of the trend you will use. Similarly, a boho look will have elements of perhaps fringing detailing or beading within the design. To sum up: key detailing has a lot to do with the trends and inspiration you are using for the collection.

Range plan
This is a critical part of the process that many people overlook. Getting this right could mean make or break for your final collection. Be very choosy in what pieces to make as the final selection. Have enough of a range of different items. If it’s a ten piece collection, do not have a total of five trousers in the final range, unless your final marketing is actually geared towards a trouser only brand. People like diversity and choice. The more choices you can have for the final pieces you select, the better.

Bonus Tip from the No Name Design Team
Finding, defining and fine-tuning your signature design style is imperative. It will allow you to interpret common and often coincidently shared influences, in your own unique way. It can make you stand out in today’s over-saturated and competitive market and help you strengthen the value of your brand.

Now that we have taken you through the fashion design process from idea to the first sketch, perhaps you have already understood that in the competitive arena of fashion design, it’s imperative that you give yourself a fighting chance by standing out from the crowd. As a new designer you will, no doubt, be excited by the prospect of creating your own collection. But remember that research is king and if done thoroughly, it will enable you to create unique and interesting fashion collection, that bears your own distinctive handwriting.
Do you like this post? In the next chapter we’ll find out how to source your fabric and produce your samples!