From the eye of a young apparel designer, my first step of design would be to sketch, sketch, sketch with no worries! I learned, however, this is not always the case. Taking into account the customers needs, the stages of the design process may vary. There are many steps to take before the sketching can even take place sometimes.
Finding The Price Breaks
In the office, we have a document that shows us all of our different price points for each style of bag on a scale of lowest to highest. Before we tackle a new design, we see where it will fit in on this scale so that we are able to offer the customer a variety of price points and a variety of styles. This allows us to see what the collection is missing in terms of handbag styles and price points.
Researching The Competition
Now that we have limited our options to an idea as to where we want our new bag priced at, we research similar bags to find out what sells well and in what price range. From researching the competition, this will allow us to get a gist of what size our price range will allow and what hardware we can afford to stay in that range.
Creating Cost Sheets
Cost sheets show every expense involved in creating a product, so we can determine what each bag costs and what the wholesale and retail price can be. Typically, when creating a brand new bag we tend to work backwards. This consists on inputting the retail price before any other information and adjusting the other information from there. The information inputted includes the total cost of: leather, hardware, labor, and wholesale/retail margins. From creating these cost sheets for each bag, this will give us a better understanding on exactly how much we can spend on hardware and leather in order to fall into our price range.
Sketch! Sketch! Sketch!
As some bags may organically start from just a sketch, others may not due to either updating an existing style, or what the customer demands are at the time. Once we know what the market will bear for a new bag, we can finalize the design aspects either through hand sketches or technical sketches to eventually present to the contractor! These finalized sketches would consist of all the exact dimensions, and all raw materials needed.
The order of these steps varies every time depending on whether we are creating a new style or updating an existing one. This varies on what the designer wants and needs in the market at that particular time. I was frustrated to learn this because whenever I was presented with a task to complete for a new bag to launch, all I wanted to do was grab a pencil and paper and sketch away! It was a learning experience to realize there is so much more thinking involved in order to make a product a success. These steps are never completely finalized, and take a lot of time to make a product come to life. I am always finding myself revisiting each step and modifying them as we go, even when I am in the sketching process!