Collecting images for fashion research
A good research is crucial for a good fashion collection, as everything starts from here. It’s important you feel strongly motivated with what you choose to work with, as well as choosing something that’s relevant to the consumer, and right for the brand you create for (read more about that here). If you don’t love your research (and I chose the word love on purpose, because you need to love it, not just like it), you will never love your collection, and if you don’t, most likely no one else will.
When collecting images for fashion research, the images you put in your research must give you a direction and spark ideas in your mind about:
Mood: Always an important and first step. It’s the feel of the collection, and everything springs from here. If you don’t have a clear idea about this, the entire research will be messy.
Type of woman (or man): This is what I call a Muse. A Muse is someone who inhabits the imaginary world you’re creating and wearing the clothes. It’s someone who shares the same values. In real life a lot of fashion designers have an actual Muse, which is a woman, they find really inspiring and have in mind, when they create. Deciding on a Muse will give you a more clear idea about your project.
Garment range/Merchandising mix: The garments you are designing in your collection. Is your brand a sweater brand, or do you do a total look? Some garments are basic, some are seasonal and fashion, and you also have to design all the garments to create the complete outfit.
Shapes: The shapes of the garments in your collection. What are the basic shapes, and what are the more particular and seasonal shapes giving you a strong collection? The shapes giving you a strong collection are also called Key Shapes, and must be in line with what’s happening in fashion.
Styling: It’s how you put the clothes together, as well as what you out together. This has a huge impact on the actual collection, and is again something that communicates your mood. With styling, you can change a conservative collection into something fresher, and with a basic collection give it a stronger and more fashionable feel.
Details: The details in terms of pattern cutting/construction, decoration (e.g. embellishment), strong features (e.g. multi pocket) and concepts (e.g. layering, transparencies). What do you emphasize, and what is the focus in your collection?
Colours: The colour(s) you’re working with. Often this is again a mix of basic and more seasonal colours, and also fashion colours can play a big role. Together the colours make the colour scheme.
Prints: Prints have become more important in fashion over the last 10 years, and a lot of designers use them. They give a sparkle to a collection, and make it feel rich. They must always be coordinated with the colours, and can play a more or less dominant role in the collection.
Surfaces: Mainly the materials you work with, but also the decoration (linked to Details) you have chosen. This is another hugely important point, as fashion is made of fabrics and often, when you see a garment, the first thing you do is touching it. Is it a winter or summer collection, and what are the fibers and weaving that will give you the result, you want? Also choosing different types of structures in terms of weavings will make the collection rich.
The above-mentioned points all make up the first part of the project, which is the actual research process. It’s also the first part you need to approach, when you make a fashion collection. People start in very different places, when they start to work, and someone may have a clear idea about colour before shape, whilst others think first about fabrics. It doesn’t matter where you start, but when you collect images, you will find that if you naturally start with thinking about colours, you will most likely have a predominantly amount of images with colours. This can mean that when you come to think about shape, you will find you have no ideas. If this is the case, it’s most likely because you don’t have the necessary images to sparkle your imagination, and what you have to do is looking for images to give you an idea about this. It’s like having the right – and all – ingredients for cooking.
When I chose an image for my research, I don’t analyze, if I’m going to use it for Shape or Colour or both, though my subconscious probably knows. When I chose, I chose because I like it and find it right for the mood. That’s the reason, why sometimes you will find that you don’t really have anything for prints. As I previously said, then all you have to do, is to look for more images with this focus, and voilà, your research is complete.