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Fashion and Apparel Product Development 101


Case Study – A day in the life of Sam – a merchandiser at XYZ Export House.

Sam is a merchandiser in an export set up in Bangladesh. Their company services major US and European Retailers and Brands. Sam was busy pushing out his fit samples to be sent to the buyer the other day.  As he sat on his computer to check emails, he saw an email from Vice President, Men’s Sourcing Division in his inbox! Now, what is that email doing in my inbox he’s wondering. He opens to read the contents. The message was addressed to his boss and he was copied on it. Here are the contents of the message. “We have an urgent read from the market sales in our department stores. The 80s preppy look is all the rage right now. We cannot miss the bus. Please put together a collection of styles/samples to be sent to our office for quick selection. We will convert these into quick orders. Make sure there are enough monogrammed polos, in Easter pastels, think nautical, think retro! And yes please include some ditsy florals as well. Need these on my desk by Monday.”

Sam’s phone begins to ring just then. Sure enough his boss online. ‘Sam, can you start working on this request. There is no time. So get cracking.” “Yes Sir, I will do my best!”, Sam keeps the phone down.

Now Sam is wondering in his head, what is preppy? What fabrics to choose from? Easter pastels – what colors? Should I tell the fabric team to get pink or khakis? What do they mean by monogrammed polos? What are ditsy florals? Why can’t the buyers tell us clearly what colors, what styles, what fabrics to follow? We are not fashion designers!

It’s not Sam’s fault at all. His work exposure has been to convert tech packs with complete and clear instruction into garments for his buyers. You can ask him about thread consumption of a shirt, or the % difference in the yield if fabric width is changed from 44” to 56” cuttable. That’s his forte. But how is he expected to know about what’s all the rage in American preppies? They live in a culture and a land far removed from his familiar world of factory production shop floor, pattern masters, fabric purchase managers and so on.

Sam has no need to worry. Go to the next tab to find out what Samir will learn after this course.

After going through this module on Apparel and Fashion Product Development, Sam will be able to –

  1. Understand not just the buyer’s needs, but also appreciate who is his buyer’s end customers? Their demographics, tastes, interests, behaviors, likes, dislikes.
  2. Know the product development process from A-Z. Conceptualization to mood boards to actual product prototypes.
  3. Learn about Fashion cycles, colors, seasons and their relevance in his customer’s markets, different retail store format types and their target market segmentation.
  4. Appreciate the difference between fashion design and product development.
  5. Know how to do market research on trends, spot them and come up with product ideas in keeping with the latest trends.
  6. Choose appropriate fabrics, colors, prints etc. and effectively source the right materials for developing a range of samples matching the current customer trends and expectations.
  7. Become familiar with buyer lingo in terms of product types, styles, details like collars, necklines etc.
  8. Make basic garment sketches and embellishment details to get the product development ball rolling without depending on buyer’s detailed tech packs.

Changing Fashion Landscape – New Game = New Rules. Are you ready to play?

Discussion on changing Dynamics sweeping the fashion industry. Fast Fashion, Omni Channel, Fashion Democratization, 3-D, Virtual Fitting, Smart Wearables etc.

PD Vs FD! Who’s is the lesser cousin?

What is Product Development? What is the role of the Product Developer? What’s the difference between Fashion Design and Product Development? Why should merchants be Product Developers?

The return of the retro!

Fashion Cycles, Fashion obsolescence, Phases, Fashion Seasons and Colors, Fashion Product Categories, Store Segmentations.

KYC – Know Your Customer

Customer Demographics across different generations from baby boomers to millennials. Market Research. Types of Research, Trendspotting tools. Where to look? What to look out for? How to document your research?

Product Development Process – A to Z

Conceptualize a collection from end to end. Understanding the customer needs. Market Research. Idea Generation. Presentation Boards – Fabrics, trims, embellishments, themes, mood, colors, styles etc. Why are Mood boards important? How to create mood boards? Garment types and details – names and styles of collars, necklines, sleeves, cuffs etc. Optimization for Production. Prototyping.

Let’s get to our drawing boards.

Basic requirements of production drawing. Descriptions of garments and details. Embellishments types and techniques.

Proof of the Pudding is in the eating.

Practical Range Development Assignment based on given demographics and brand. Decide a brand, define a customer profile, do market research, prepare presentation materials, design collection.