How to Design a Fashion Collection

I love learning about how people do the things they do. I had the honour of working with a fashion designer as she designed a fashion line from scratch. This is everything I learnt, a peek into someone else’s creative process.

The project took six weeks. It was broken down into five steps: Developing the story, creating croquis, cutting the patterns, making the actual clothes and then designing the Lookbook.

Develop Your Story

At this I write this, Shreya is a 27 year old fashion designer. She and I share a deep appreciation for the best kinds of non-commercial, independently-produced psychedelic trance. In search of inspiration for her new collection we decided to take a song we both and turn it into a collection of elegant women’s wear.

The track we picked is called Faerie Spell by Lost Keys. It starts with a story about about a dragon being born and talks about Magic as the life force of our world and how it keeps nature, and everything around us, in balance. Fantastic food for the imagination.

I learnt that the goal when gathering material for a story board is to find (or invent) things that help your ideas flow. The more interesting your ideas are the more involved you will become during the rest of the creative process.

We played with the dragon theme by deconstructing a collection of dragons into as few lines as possible.

The dragon theme was paired with the presence of a strong female character. One that inhabited an arctic, fairytale, wilderness; and her challenge was to transform her wintery backdrop into an interesting and pleasurable experience. We were just playing around with ideas.

Macchu Picchu and Gaudi’s architecture also added to our inspiration. We were also inspired by a wonderful story about a man who build a hobbit house for his family with less than 3000 pounds. A lot of the organic, natural forms in the final collection came form these inspirations.

Once we had a character and a setting, we began stockpilling clippings of images and ideas we liked. Colours that worked, shapes that caught our attention, patterns that intrigued us, basically anything that spoke to us directly. We continued to rearrange elements and build on ideas as we scultped our story into different shapes, colours and contours. Over the course of an hour, different concepts started to emerge and design ideas start to solidify.

Once we settled on the ideas that we liked, we stripped away everything else and were left with a collage of our favourite concepts.

Create Your Croquis

The next step was to translate these design concepts into actual forms. These forms were drawn around a croquis (a small sketch of a model) before we decided the designs that worked best.

Here are a few samples of the croquis we settled on.

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Cut Your Patterns

Cutting your patterns involves understanding how fabrics interact. Rather than just picking textures and colours that you like, you have to know how they will drape into the shapes you want to create.

There is no short cut to this process.

Shreya went to the London College of Fashion to develop a foundation of technical skills (like pattern cutting, sewing and embroidering) before designing and manufacturing her own clothing. She has worked with people like Manish Arora, Rohit Bal and Roberta Resta (currently the Senior Editor at Masquerade Magazine) and now she spearheads her own creative team of skilled artisans.

Ultimately, the patterns you cut will depend on your experiences, your tastes and the kind of work that inspires you.

Here are some of the patterns at this stage of development:

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Make Your Clothes

It took a team of nine people to create the collection in six weeks.

As a fashion designer, you will inevitably need to outsource your production to a team of artisans that turn your ideas into art.

The important thing is to stay on top of the process. Shrea did this by involving herself at every stage of the production. Some pieces went through three of four redesigns before they became part of the collection.

The Look Book

Once the collection was complete the final step was to create a Look Book. This meant hiring a photographer, finding a makeup artist and deciding on a model to showcase the clothes.

Creating a look book also involved wording an introduction for the collection. This introduction also serves as a press release if the collection makes it into a fashion show.

When wording the introduction I made sure to outline what the collection was about (how it was inspired), who it was for (our target market), the palette (the colours we used) and the feel of the collection (how the cloth was cut and manipulated).

The Final Collection

Out of 56 pieces of clothing Shrea and I chose the following five to speak for the collection.

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