The least fashionable aspects of the fashion industry are, not surprisingly, production and manufacturing, i.e., the fashion production cycle. This is something you must understand in full before you even consider starting your own brand. To understand this concept, let’s start at the very beginning.
Why Is It Called Fast Fashion?
Once upon a time, the fashion production cycle — which includes the designing, manufacturing and distribution of clothes — used to take three stable months. As globalization and competition skyrocketed, these three months slowly but surely dropped to just two weeks.
This drastic change occurred because the world became more connected. Think of how it used to take weeks for people to communicate with one another across state lines. These days, you can instantly chat with anybody from anywhere in the world. Because of this connectivity, fashion too is now expected to move at a fast pace.
This of course means that exciting, new designs reach consumers much quicker than ever before. Unfortunately, this also means that you must work that much harder to survive in this tough industry!
What Exactly Is Fashion Production?
Fashion production describes the lengthy process by which basic design concepts are transformed from simple notepad sketches and designs into tangible products that can be worn by consumers. The process usually starts with designs of multiple colours, size and patterns, but ends in goods produced by manufacturers and then distributed to customers.
As you can tell, production plays a huge role toward the success or failure of a fashion brand. Why? Think about it. You can design a great garment, but if it doesn’t get produced right (or if it doesn’t get produced at all), then your business will inevitably fail. This is why a quality manufacturer is a must.
With that said, the greatest challenge you will face as a fashion start-up is the challenge of locating a reliable ‘source of production’, i.e., a manufacturer. This is one of those situations in life where you should not and cannot procrastinate, lest you wind up inundated with orders that you cannot even fill.
It’s true that the industry is brimming with manufacturers and suppliers, but these manufacturers and supplies are not equal by any means. Plus, the best manufacturers are usually kept hidden by fashion elites who don’t want everybody else zeroing in on their premium sources.
It should be partially clear, what with all this competition in the industry, why production is such a pain.
What Are The Steps Involved In Fashion Production?
There are quite a few steps in the fashion production cycle, including planning, sketching, designing, sample making, development, manufacturing and distribution:
- Planning: The cycle starts with extensive research and planning. Target demographics must be identified. Goals must be drawn out. And an official business plan must be mustered. All of this is ESSENTIAL.
- Sketching: After planning come the sketching of the garment, be it a t-shirt, a dress, a pair of pants or whatnot. Details (think patterns) are ignored during this portion of the cycle. The focus instead is on the shape of the product.
- Designing: After several sketches have been made, designers review each sketch and then convene to pick out the best. Those that pass to the next stage are then adorned with details like patterns.
- Sample Making: The completed design is then turned into a sample. The way it works is that the patterns are stitched on inferior fabrics so that the designers can better analyze the fit and design to ensure it’s to their liking.
- Repeat Sketching, Design, Sample Making: The first three steps are part of an iteration that repeats itself until the designers are completely satisfied. It usually takes several iterations before a final design is achieved.
- Development: This part of the cycle can come before sketching, designing and sample making. It basically refers to the locating of quality suppliers and/or manufacturers, and the establishing of initial business relationships.
- Manufacturing: Next comes manufacturing, the process wherein your solid designs are brought to life by factories. These factories possess all the fabrics, trims and raw materials needed to make your garments.
- Distribution: Last but not least is distribution. This comprehensive step involves the selling of your goods (which you have now received from the manufacturer), the packing of your goods and the delivery of your goods.
Throughout the whole process, you must work with a plethora of different players, including pattern makers, sample makers, other designers, manufacturers and of course clients. Keep in mind also that the summaries provided are exactly that — summaries. Each of the above sections contains a plethora of smaller tasks. Altogether, they make up the fashion production cycle.
Why Is It A Good Idea To Hire An Experienced Production Manager?
Considering the immense complexity of the fashion production cycle, it might be in your best interests (especially if you are just starting out) to find a supply partner, such as Fashion Design Solutions, who are not only experienced in the whole production cycle, but are also usually familiar with one to two (if not more) high-quality manufacturers and suppliers.
Should I Be Afraid?
A certain degree of fear is always good. It helps protect us from potential harm. So yes, you should possess a certain degree of realistic fear. Fashion production is not simple or easy. It’s a very complex process that can take years (if not decades) to master to in full. The thing to keep in mind is that it’s a process that’s traversed by innumerable quantities of fashion designers and production managers every single day. So if they can do it, there is no reason on Earth that you shouldn’t be able to do it as well!