Ruth Farrell, TCBL Lab Manager at the Textile Centre of Excellence, Alison Lewy MBE, TCBL Associate and founder of Fashion Angel, and more TCBL partners, Jenny Holloway (Fashion Enter) and Caterina Ailiesei (Reginnova) have put together six stages for young and aspiring fashion and clothing designers to think about when developing a collection. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor should you expect everything to fall into place step by step – life isn’t like that as the picture below shows – but it might help!

Design is a business also: hand-in-hand with these stages are some complementary business processes that should be borne in mind. Some alternative ideas can be found via the Lean Startup Guide, a link to which can be found elsewhere in this zine edition. Finally, don’t forget your local TCBL Laboratories might be able to offer advice and support.

Stage 1 – Idea

  • Market research
  • Consultation
  • Establish USP
  • Brand positioning
  • Establish offer
  • Decide sales route
  • Decide target launch timings
  • Create pathway for Brand development to launch

Stage 2 – Design

  • Decide silhouettes/cad
  • Range build
  • Focus design details/colours/prints
  • Source trims/fabric
  • Decide branding

Stage 3 – Design development

  • Procure sampling length of chosen fabric
  • Produce tech pack (only if sampling is off site)
  • Draft patterns
  • First toile and fitting
  • Sampling up to 4x stages per style
  • Wearer trials/focus group
  • Finalise each style/ sealer sample

Stage 4 – Preparing for production

  • Create critical path
  • Procure fabric, i.e. min order quantity/surcharge (trading UK and offshore)
  • Final master patterns
  • Grading/specification charts
  • Production Tech packs
  • Gold seal sample (pre prod)
  • Labelling/packaging

Stage 5 – Production 1-25pcs

  • Source CMT unit/factory
  • Establish prices (maybe offshore thus agree currency)
  • Agree payment terms/lead times
  • Production sample/size set according to budget
  • Production sample (if off shore)
  • Quality Control checks
  • Receive production
  • Pay

Stage 6 – Production 26 -200 pcs

  • Source CMT unit/factory
  • Establish new prices (maybe offshore thus agree currency)
  • Agree payment terms/lead times
  • Production sample/size set
  • Shipment sample (if off shore)
  • Quality Control
  • Receive production
  • Pay

Some business support expertise requirements

Business Skills Package, e.g.
Establishing your offer, Mapping route to sales, Market research, How to cost, Lead times, Getting paid, Invoicing, Tax returns/NI, Trading partners, Time management, Currency/trading off shore, Payment terms, Import/export, Rules and regulations, Copy writing, Issues/protection, Insurance, Sourcing

Technical Package, e.g.
Branding, Design/cads, Range building, Colour pallets, Print focus, 1st patterns, Sampling stage (to 4x), Final patterns, Gold seal samples (pre prod), Size specs, Tech packs (graded charts/cads/details)

Access to Finance, e.g.
Funding/grants various countries

Community Development, e.g.
Sampling components/fabric, Source agent/trading partner, CMT/Production unit, Fabric supplier, Trims/components supplier, Printer, Wash house, Dye house, Finishing company, Logistics manager, Design development service, Labels and packaging suppliers, Freelance designers, Promotional material, Website builder, Service matcher, Focus groups

Quality Assurance / Compliance, e.g.
Best practice examples, toolkits