Starting a Kids Fashion Collection: How to develop a range.
There are so many components to designing a collection. It can take several months to create. I often change my mind many times - each day I work on it and perfect it. Designs get deleted/added constantly. Here are some of the key aspects I incorporate into my design process.
1. Colour Story
When starting a new collection, I usually pick out some base colours I like, usually 6-10 different colours. The colours are one of the most important aspects of a range.
First of all the colours need to be colours that people are loving at the moment. They need to fit in with what's selling commercially at the time. For example, I wouldn't choose fluro yellow! Here are some nice Pantones:
So every day I am looking at the colours that I love and that other people love - I can find these popular colours on instagram and at the local shops/out and about, and from nature and on WGSN (I have a subscription). There's also Pinterest but I rarely look there anymore.
Examples of some popular colours at the moment in kids fashion are earthy neutral tones like: cream, beige, brown. But, as I am one of the leading kids fashion brands so I cant just do those colours alone, I think that would be too predictable and boring. My customers like innovative stuff, so after thinking about some popular tones, I'll add some 'KaPow' tones. In my SS20 range for example I chose Cornflower Blue as my stand out tone. It worked really well this season, it was one of the most popular stories.
Secondly, the colours you choose (I usually limit it to about 10 maximum) need to compliment each other. You need to picture all the colours together and they need to work harmoniously as a whole. You need some light shades, some dark shades, something a bit edgier and bright, some pinks (pink always is popular) and it also depends if its summer or winter. Summer the colours should be more fun I think. The colours cant clash when all together as when the range is hanging on the racks in a shop it needs to look appealing to the eye. I pick the colours either from my Pantone Fan deck or from Fabric Swatch books (that my factory has sent me - photo below).
2. Textile Prints
Now that I've got a bit of an idea of the colour range - Ill start thinking about the prints that will go onto the fabrics. This is what I mean by a print:
These above are what I call 'screens' and they are the final product of a fabric design - these are created by a surface pattern designer - a seamless repeat that gets screen printed or digitally printed onto fabric.
The prints need to have a good range that suits different kinds of customers - some girly prints, some boyish prints and some unisex prints. I wholesale to lots of boutiques around Australia and New Zealand - I have learnt a lot from their feedback on what makes a good range.
Just like the colours - all the prints as a whole need to look cohesive. I like to choose prints with a bohemian vibe and that are sweet for children (fun, innocent). To find a textile designer I usually look on instagram. Sometimes I design my own too if its simple - like the Beach Stripe print from SS20, I just created that in Photoshop:
Next step is thinking about the shapes. This is what I mean by the shapes:
Customer satisfaction and functionality plays a big role in designing a garment. I have to take into consideration what the customer desires in a specific garment. It could be anything from adding a back pocket on a pair of shorts or snaps on the crotch for a baby onesie so its easy to change a nappy. By balancing function with design, you can create a garment that fits brand desires with customer wants and needs.
Each season I like to come up with some new shapes or evolve my previous styles slightly to create interest. I don't like to do the same thing each season, each collection need to improve and get better and that's been part of my success I think: evolution. I listen to feedback, I look at what worked previously and what didn't, and I grow from the mistakes and the wins. Super important.
When designing - each garment or shape must be apart of a complete outfit. I have learnt this from my stockists - a customer likes to buy the whole look. So you cant just have a t-shirt in your range that has no bottoms to pair with it. The hardest part is narrowing down the collection to the pieces that you think will be the best selling. I try not to go over 100 pieces in a collection. When I first started 7 years ago my collection was only 20 pieces!
4. Tech Packs
The final step is putting the range into tech packs. The world of design is never as easy and glamorous as it looks. From demographic and trend research, finding your brand’s voice, and narrowing down your collection, the entire process can get a bit overwhelming. But, one of the most important pieces of the development puzzle is the Technical Design. Though many people do not know about this process, developing the technical sketch and technical package is essential to move onto Production. The tech packs once complete get sent to the factory for sampling. I do my tech packs in Excel and I find them to be the most painful part of the design process!
I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about my design process!
My current SS20 range is now online if you'd like to take a look:
I am also a kids fashion mentor, if you'd like my help with your brand I am available to help - you can find out more here: