Retail 101: Your Design & Production Team

When it’s time to create product samples, the right design and production team is essential for established businesses and fashion industry startups alike. Putting ideas into action by designing pieces that are both attractive and realistically producible is key, as is actually producing those items as samples. And there are a few critical things your design and production process and team need to have considered.

What Does The Design & Production Team Do?

First up is knowing just what these roles make happen.

It’s important to realize that these roles grow and evolve with your business. As you start out with a new fashion industry startup, it’s quite possible you’ll be doing the production management yourself. You may be designing yourself, too, or working with only one head of design rather than a team. That’s totally normal – just keep in mind that over time you should place high importance on building your production team.

As your brand evolves, your design team will eventually grow along with it. Under your guiding vision, the design team will work to execute your concept and create the product. They’ll focus on elements of fit, size grading, colors, and different types of fabric to use. In addition to designing actual garments and products, they’ll also consider things like collection cohesion, current and trending styles, and ease of production.

Your production team is incredibly valuable, as they are responsible for helping bring those designs into existence. In order to be truly successful, they should be both knowledgeable and skilled. They’ll be the ones knowing where to purchase fabric, the options for detailing, how each decision will affect your bottom line, which factories can help you produce and launch, etc. Your production team will not only work with technical design but also develop products, impact cost, understand sourcing and manage manufacturing.

Time 

Something that is often underestimated in a production calendar is just how much time is needed! If you’re a fashion industry startup, especially, and your production team is only you, remember to not only schedule your time but allow for more than you may think you’ll need.

When you’re making your calendar, your production team will need enough time to plan out patterns, plan tech packs, create sample pieces, create post-market samples, create actual pieces, etc. Knowing production milestones, deadlines and events (such as photography, fittings, corrections, etc.) when you are building out your calendar will help ensure you give your production team enough time.

Variations

More and more fashion industry startups are taking a size-inclusive approach to the market, so that means keeping in mind that your design and production team will be making a variety of samples. And while that is often a favorable thing when it comes to sales, it’s still a factor for your design and production team.

Your design team will ensure pieces are designed to fit and look good on a variety of bodies. As pieces size up, that may mean some tweaks in the design for a garment to be equally successful.

Your production team gets those pieces made, fully aware of the different moving parts and the greater number of samples needed. Since inclusivity means more than one size for models to try on, that means not only will more pieces need to be made, but there should be more time and resources allotted for more revisions.

A successful design and production team works in tandem to foresee hiccups in the process, to streamline the creation and to maximize efficiency in getting those samples ready. True success, too, stems from your design team creating the perfect patterns and your production team ensuring accurate tech packs at the start.

A Smooth Process

When we say your production team oversees processes in a big way, we mean it. From turning designs into tech packs to manufacturing samples to getting products ready to be seen, there is a lot.

Your production team (again, either you or a production manager overseeing a team) often acts as an event planner of sorts, overseeing model fittings, coordinating with stylists, maintaining manufacturing relationships, aligning production schedules with events, etc.

You write out your production calendar as a guide and your production team will be responsible for sticking to that schedule. Your design team will create the designs and specify the materials, and then your production keeps that physical process on track and doable.

Manufacturer Awareness

Your production team is essential in keeping on top of manufacturers in terms of accuracy to design and keeping to a schedule that allows time for adjustments.

Manufacturers want to get the product done and payment from you on their own timetable. Your production team is your key player in this relationship to maintain communication with them throughout the process to make sure your samples are being finished on schedule. Also, production teams ensure designs are being followed to specifications. Sometimes, if it’s more convenient, manufacturers may make changes to a product – your production team is key in ensuring designs are fully adhered to.

There is a lot of work in bringing a collection to life. By understanding the roles of your production and design team, and by putting the right players in pace, you’ll be more assured of a successful collection. For more information on your production calendar and samples, see our video “Starting a Fashion Company: Production Sampling.” For industry expert help beginning as a fashion industry startup, email hello@scalingretail.com for a consultation.

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