Garment Designers Pre Production Checklist

For the last several years I have been balancing my time between fashion and costuming for companies including Disney and Universal Theme Parks.

Since 2011, I have worked with over 50 celebrity clients like Beyonce and was featured in her Formation World Tour Behind The Scenes Fashion video.
I've worked on costumes for Justin Bieber's Believe Film, Taylor Swift's Red Tour, Rihanna's Diamonds and Anti World Tours and many, many more.
Last year I even restored Janis Joplin's Cape for the Hard Rock International, which is now on display in San Francisco, CA. You can read all about these adventures in my other blog posts.

I now have my own design and production house, where I specialize in pre production work, wholesale fabric sourcing and managing domestic and international production runs on all kinds of garments, shoes, bags and even tactical and combat training gear through House Of Vincenza.

As the Founder and President of Orlando Fashion District we've taken on the mission to make Orlando a Fashion Destination and to support and encourage fashion designers everywhere.

Designers hire to help them take their designs from concept to creation and into production, many of them aren't exactly sure how the process works.

To help you understand how this process works, I created this checklist of things you need to start working on, if you have designs you'd like to reproduce.

  1. Solid Concept – this can come in the form of sketches, photos or even an existing garment you'd like to use as inspiration for your designs. The more detailed the better. Refining these details in the process will cost more money than having them figured out in advance.
  2. Pattern – this has to be created in order to build a prototype of your design. It will be the foundation of everything and may need to be altered several times to get it perfect.
  3. Fabrics – using the fabrics you'd like to go into production with, is the best way to build your prototypes. If you don't have them sorted out, custom printed and sourced in sample quantities prior to moving forward, it could delay the process. Changing fabrics later means making another prototype. Skipping this step can be an expensive mistake if the production fabrics don't behave, look or feel the same way as your prototype fabrics. If you "can't afford" to make a new prototype, then you need to rework your funding.
  4. Notions – zippers, buttons, snaps, elastics, threads and any other materials you'll be using for your design needs to be sourced up front in sample quantities. These items will all need to be tested as part of your prototype. Changing this later means another prototype will need to be made in order to avoid production problems cause by these last minute changes that won't work right in your design.
  5. Labels – start working on your clothing label designs at the same time as your prototypes or it could delay production. These can take a few weeks to get these the way you'd like.
  6. Prototypes – this will be the first reality test of your designs. Don't expect it to be perfect the first time. This process can take several revisions. Be prepared for that. Emotionally and Financially. It might seem like a long and expensive process, but if you fail to test everything here and now and then move forward into production it could cost you a lot more time and money to go back and correct something after you've had hundreds of them made wrong or in a way that doesn't fit or work properly.
  7. Tech Pack – Once you've got a solid design prototype you can move on to the next step, which is creating all of the technical specifications of your garment. This is commonly referred to as a "tech pack" in the industry. Moving forward into production without this, especially with a new provider can leave a lot of things open to their interpretation. Not a good plan. Technical specs will clearly define and communicate to the production house, how your garment should be assembled, what types of seams go where, what kind and colors of thread, how to install your elastic, notions and so on are all explained in this document. Look at it as the assembly instruction that go along with your pattern and parts. What you get without it is an expensive crap shoot.
  8. Digitizing – This is the process of converting your paper patterns into an auto cad program like Gerber. If you've got access to someone who uses this or a similar program in the beginning stages it can save time and money down the road. It can be used to create your grading instead of having it done by hand. You can also use it to creat your "pattern markers" or "cut sheets" which I will talk about more in my next post.
  9. Grading – This is the process of creating all of the sizes for each design. It can be small, medium and large or numbered sizes. There are ASTM.org industry standards that can help determine these guidelines based on algorithms of global sizing standards. (There's also a thing called "vanity" sizing. A lot of brands run big so that you will fit into a smaller size and hopefully buy it because we all wish we were a size smaller. Ugh. It's a thing.) Making a sample of each size before you go into production with it is an important part of proper grading. Having an ASTM dimensioned fit model for each size will help make your sizing fit average size buyers.
  10. Production – Deciding on a production house is the next step. I will talk more about this in my next posts. Domestic production in the USA vs International Production is a complicated decision. Staying in the USA is possible for most items, but expensive compared to international options. Why? Mainly because the minimum wage in the USA is several times higher than other countries. There are also fabric issues to consider. Going international means it will be more cost effective to use fabrics the factory has either readily available or choosing from what they can source for you. Getting fabric samples from your production house in advance can streamline the pre production process.

Some of the other things you can do with all of these prototypes is enter runway shows, do photo shoots, trunk shows and start working on pre marketing your designs.

My next post will be about going into the production process. I'll write about it from a USA domestic perspective and from an international perspective.

Good Talk!

Got any questions?
Did I leave anything out? Gina@HouseOfVincenza.com

Stay Tuned.

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