Designing Clothes for the First Time

by Louise Henry August 17, 2016


Today I'm going to talk about our experience designing clothes for the first time. It can definitely be intimidating at first, especially if you don't know all the terminology. Hopefully this video gives you a better understanding of what it takes to design your own clothes. 

1. Brand Identity

The first thing we did, and something I think is really important, is to defined our brand identity. This can be anything from who you are, what you stand for, what your style is, who your target audience is and once you have that, that really is going to give direction for your clothing.

We knew that we wanted to be a streetwear brand that was all about travel and adventure so because of this, we needed to use materials that were light, breathable and durable. 

2. Mockups 

The next thing we did was start sketch out ideas because that's what you see the fashion designers doing on TV! But unfortunately neither Nathan or I are really good drawers so we're sketching out our designs and it's getting really difficult to picture what it's going to look like as a real t-shirt. So then we started working with mockups. Luckily I do know how to use Photoshop so we were able to pull in a mockup and start placing our designs on that and that helped tremendously. If I could say anything - work with a mockup so you can really visualize what your design will look like!

We knew that since we were new that we needed to get our name out there so we decided to stamp our name right across the chest (on quite a few pieces). I feel like advisors would not necessarily recommend that you do that because you're new and it will be hard to get people to wear an unknown brand. But it worked for us (luckily). In any given day in Bali, I walk down the street and I have 10 people yell See Ya Never at me. For brand awareness, it worked! 

3. The Fit

Once we knew what the design was going to look like, it was time to figure out the fit. There's actually quite a lot of measurements that you need to think about even if it's just a simple t-shirt design.

4. Tech Pack

Once you have the measurements, you put it into a document called a tech pack. This lays out for the manufacturer detailed specifications of your garment.

5. Find a Supplier

After this it was time to find a supplier. Luckily, we're in Bali so I was able to Google "apparel manufacturer," "clothing manufacturer" (try a few terms!) and visit the factory. You won't always be able to do this, but it was good because we were bale to see if it was a factory or a few sewers in a room. You will be surprised at the variety in factories out there! 

6. Fabric

Next it was time to choose the fabric. You have to think about whether you want cotton, rayon etc. and within these categories there are many different weights/thickness. The supplier will give you fabric swatches so you can actually feel them yourself, as well as have sample shirts laid out they've made in those materials. 

7. Colour

Next it's colour! You'll be given a colour swatch booklet which will lay out what colours the fabric already comes in. I recommend starting with this, otherwise they have to dye fabrics themselves which adds more costs and another step to the process. 

8. Sampling/Grading

After this is starts getting pretty fun because it's time to get your first samples made! I love the feeling when you get your first piece back and it has your name on it and it's perfect. It's really cool. But, you will probably have to go through a few phases of sampling - and that's totally fine. And normal. 

9. Sizing

After you've got your sample back and it's perfect and you love it, next it's time to think about sizing (otherwise known as grading). For this, I'd recommend following standard sizing. Sizing already - you know, as a clothing buyer, is so confusing and every store has different smalls, different 4s etc.. There are standard sizes that you can ask them to follow. 

10. Production

After that, once you've got your sizes back and you've made a friend in each size try them on, it's time for your first round of production. For production, I'd say keep it as small as you can at first. Very quickly you will see what designs do well and you don't want to be left with 1000 pieces that you can't sell. 

I think that's it! Hopefully this has given you some insight into what goes into manufacturing and designing and if you have any questions, pop em down below and if you liked it, please give me a thumbs up. And subscribe if you'd like to see more! 

Louise Henry
Louise Henry


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