I’ve previously discussed the importance of making a research that you love, as the only starting point for making a strong fashion collection, but other matters are just as important. As a fashion designer, you may have an intuition for style, and be a first mover of trying new and strong ideas, but ultimately your creations will only be successful, if they matter to the consumer. So when is a fashion collection relevant? In this, there’s a lot of marketing and other aspects to discuss, but if we for a moment concentrate on the actual fashion collection and product, here’s some considerations to take into account.
What is the secret to choosing something that’s relevant to the consumer? Three things are important here: being aware of what fashion has been like lately, having an intuition of where fashion is heading and understanding your consumer.
So, in order to be up-to-date of what happens in the fashion world, it’s important to follow the big brands, read magazines and perhaps follow a few bloggers or other trend-setting people. When you look at the fashion world, I think there’s a distinction to be made about the international fashion world with the globally established brands, and a more local reality with its own trends and style. This will give you an idea of what’s happening in the big picture (global reality) and smaller picture (local reality).
If you have followed fashion for a few years, you will be able to see how things (trends and style) have evolved over a certain period. You should use this as a fundament for predicting where things will be heading. When you see where brands and people come from, you will have a better idea of where they’re heading. Fashion is like a walk; each step it’s affected by the one you previously took, which has taken you in some direction. If the theme from the past collection is still relevant, you will elaborate on it. If you feel the moment has passed, you will try something new. It’s like a story, where you come from somewhere. Starting to see the patterns will help you making good decisions of what to design for a certain brand.
Understanding your consumer is of course very crucial. You need to know what she (or he) is like. If you know and understand her, you can create for her. Let me give you an example: I like very beautiful and sensual (and sometimes sexy) fashion. I like to wear it myself, and I understand a woman, who choses to wear it and be this way. This was one of the reasons that I chose to study in Italy, because Italy is beautiful, elegant and sensual. On the other hand I’m not a very conceptual designer, and therefore I will never fully understand a very conceptual consumer, because fundamentally I don’t really get the concept. Not understanding would make it very hard to create for this type of client. Understanding your consumer – and identifying with her – will allow you to create great products for her.
What is the secret to choosing what is right for the brand? Here you need to combine your understanding of the above-mentioned aspects of the big world with the actual brand. When you understand the big picture, you can understand how and where your brand is situated in this context, and it’s exactly this contextualizing comprehension that makes you able to design successfully for a given brand. Over are the days where a big designer could follow only his own ideas and be very successful, because when Ready-to-Wear was born, there was no fashion industry yet and just a few, powerful couture houses creating for the wealthy. With a growing middle class and an increasing amount of women in the work force, the demand for Ready-to-Wear was enormous, and fashion designers had a glorious moment.
I’m not saying that today is less glorious – just that the conditions have changed. How you want to approach the industry takes a lot of careful consideration about very diverse things, and having a creative background and way of thinking and resolving problems can be useful in a multi-faceted challenge like creating a collection or brand.
Cover photo is of Margherita Cottafavi’s graduating collection from Marangoni, Milano shown during Shanghai Fashion Week. According to LinkedIn, she’s now a design intern at Fendi. Well done, Margherita!