Fashion Design From Concept to Retail – The Who, What, Why and Wear of How a Garment is Made

We wear clothes all day and every day, but most people don’t think about how their garments make their way from the fashion designer’s imagination to the store. Sure, we know that designers come up with the concepts, and that stores sell the clothing, but what happens in between? As you’ll see, the fashion design process has many steps and countless professionals involved along the way. It really makes one appreciate the work that goes into what we wear – and how large the fashion industry is.

1. Research. Before any design can begin, the fashion designer has to do some research. First of all, who is the target market? Is it men or women? What age group? How much money do they make? What are their interests? The second type of research needed is trend forecasting. Since it can take up to two years before a garment makes it to retail, designers have to know what will be popular in the future in terms of styles, trends, and colors. Fortunately, there are companies who specialize in market research and trend forecasting, so apparel companies can subscribe to the information without actually doing all the legwork.

2. Design. After digesting all the research, the fashion designer begins creating. He or she will hand sketch the designs using the industry standard Nine Heads drawing technique, or sketch them with a computer program. In the margins, the designer will write specs, e.g., the color, fabric, texture and other details. The fashion sketch is called a “croquis.”

3. Sourcing materials. Once the sketch is completed, the materials need to be found. Either the designer or a design assistant looks for fabric, buttons, trim, zippers, anything that is necessary to complete the garment. It sounds like a fun shopping trip, but keep in mind that the person sourcing has to stay within a budget.

4. Pattern making. Next, the pattern maker takes the fashion designer’s sketch and creates a workable pattern from which the actual garment can be sewn. The pattern maker also develops the marker, a layout for how the pattern goes onto the fabric. All the pieces of the garment, in every size, are configured on the marker so there is minimal fabric wasted.

5. Production. When the pattern is created, apparel manufacturing can begin. This step involves many areas including costing, production planning, global dynamics, and quality control. At this stage the company must decide whether to manufacture locally, or even within the United States, or overseas, where labor is cheaper. With so many components and production channels involved, the manufacturing aspect of fashion design is an industry within itself.

6. Buying. Unless apparel companies have their own stores, they will present their merchandise at trade events to fashion buyers. Buyers then choose the pieces they feel will sell at their stores at the best price. Just as the fashion designer must forecast the styles that will appeal to consumers in the future, so must the buyer.

7. Marketing. Behind the scenes, the fashion marketing machine is in full motion so that when the clothes are manufactured and hit the stores, shoppers will want to snap them up off the racks. Marketers need to understand consumer attitudes and behavior and develop a keen sense of the emotional triggers that will persuade them to make purchase decisions.

8. Merchandising and retail. Once the clothes hit retail, it’s the job of the fashion merchandiser to create a visually appealing merchandise display to lure consumers into the store to buy, buy, buy. Mannequins, props, and sometimes very unexpected elements all work together to stop customers in their tracks. But merchandising is only part of the equation at retail. Savvy fashion design companies educate retailers on their merchandise so the sales staff can be knowledgeable about the product line and more effectively sell one-on-one with customers. Marketing and merchandising hooks them in; the retail staff closes the deal.

Although the preceding was a very basic rundown of the production of a garment, it’s clear that the fashion design industry is huge, with many layers and players. It bodes well for those interested in a fashion career, as there are myriad job positions besides the fashion designer. Therefore, whatever interests or skills one might have, there’s probably a career in fashion for them.

What Does It Take to Be A Fashion Buyer?

Fashion buyers have to travel to different places frequently, pay attention to the latest fashion trend, purchase all sorts of clothes, hats, shoes, jewelry items and conduct business transactions with different commercial organizations and clothes suppliers. It is an occupation a large number of people want to have. What does it take to be a qualified buyer in clothing industry?

A majority of students majoring in costume design aim to become a designer after graduation; however, many of them realize that it is the fashion buyer that plays a crucial role in the research and development process of clothing products. It is an ideal occupation second only to costume designer to some extent.

First, buyers in fashion industry must possess a strong sense of fashion. This is the most fundamental prerequisite in being a qaulified buyer in clothing industry. Generally speaking, world reputable clothing brands have cultivated a large number of experienced fashion buyers who are able to create fashion trend for others to follow.

Second, buyers in clothing industry must have the ability to conduct accurate market analysis. People from different age groups pursue different styles of fashion items. People in western countries attach more favor to simple styled clothes while people from oriental countries tend to like colorful clothes more. Therefore, buyers are expected to be objective when conducting apparel merchandising.

Third, buyers should have the capability to predict correctly future fashion trend. Traveling to different parts of the world to visit world-class fashion weeks is a significant channel through which fashion buyers could be inspired to predict the next popular fashion trend. The fashion buyers of Zara will return relevant feedbacks to the headquarters of the company on a daily basis so that the company could adjust in time the styles of the clothing items to win a larger market share.

Fourth, buyers must possess desirable physical strength and mental endurance. This job looks like a decent occupation, but its actual workload is considerably enormous. Buyers usually have no choice but fly frequently to different places, select clothing items, conduct business negotiation and communicate with relevant parties. A majority of people working in this industry are generally under high pressure.

Sixth, fashion buyers are required to be able to comprehensively accommodate different aspects in the apparel merchandising process. Fashion buyers have to formulate some feasible strategies when conduct apparel merchandizing in order to lower the cost and maximize profits. Buyers are believed to play a decisive role in the profitability of fashion stores.

Those who attempt to become buyers in clothing industry could refer to the above mentioned information.

Determinants of a Rewarding Fashion Buyer Salary

Nature of Work

Salary of a fashion largely depends on the nature of work. Opening a fashion outlet or a boutique gives a low start, but; ensures higher returns in the long term depending on the creativity and market sense of an individual. Obviously; working for a retail garment store, private fashion outlet or a fashion store adds up to the returns of a buyer, as it provides the required practical exposure and professional training.

Skills and Experience

A degree in fashion designing or fashion management is enough to start off the career of a fashion buyer. But, a good amount of relevant experience at a retail outlet or fashion outlet is always a must to get a high start in salary. Being analytical, logical, organized and strategic also increases the monetary gains of a fashion, as these skills determine the scale of business.

The creative spark present within a candidate makes him earn a large amount of money in the long run. That means, higher the creative ideas, higher the returns of a buyer. In addition to these elements, a high degree of self motivation is required to face the highs and lows of this hectic profession.

Knowledge of Market Trend

Understanding the past, present and future market and fashion trends is equally important for a fashion. Tapping the scope of innovation, launch of new fashion design, identification of new fashion apparel markets and timely elimination of the outdated fashion apparel makes up the market sense of a fashion buyer. More the fashion sense and knowledge of market trends, more the fashion buyer salary.