As things are really starting to take shape here at Boy Wonder and the launch collection is starting to become a reality I thought you might like to have some background on how it has got to where it is now.
All designers will have their own way of working. When I was at college we always started with a mood board. This comes about from research based on the design brief and takes the form of a collage of images expressing and presenting the feel or concept behind the collection. It would include a colour palette and sometimes fabrics, shapes and print ideas too.
Often designers will look at what their competitors are doing for research either on a shopping trip or online, as it’s always good to know what’s going on in the industry. I have used Pinterest for many years to put together examples of designs that I like and things that inspire me. However, I wanted my designs to be really original and not like anyone else’s, so although a Scandinavian influence has come through I was careful not to just follow trends and look at things in my own unique way.
I have therefore used my childhood and British heritage as the inspiration for my collection. My mood board therefore evokes to me memories of holidays in a caravan in Wales, bright colours of the 1970s, retro TV, playgrounds, Fisher Price Toys and my school days (Oh, so long ago!).
This stage would normally come later on for most designers, but I wanted to use as many sustainable and British-made fabrics as possible, so I realised this had to be done earlier. I knew there would be limited variety of these specialist materials, so it was better to design around them rather than design a collection and find I couldn’t source what I needed for it. Thankfully, there are still some amazing British mills and artisan specialists that embody the quality British craftsmanship that I wanted to incorporate. See Byshee Partnership and Discovery Knitting for more details.
DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT
My design and development was done rather back to front too. In college, students traditionally set out their designs and ideas in a sketch book, but in industry you don’t have that luxury. Having churned out designs on a computer for work for many years, I found it quite difficult to get out of this habit. So, I started off creating my print designs this way and then developed my ideas and garments further in a sketchbook. It was great to get back into sketching again, although I felt quite rusty at first!
My collection incorporates the Duffle Coat; a British design classic, hard wearing denim, Scandinavian style knitwear and comfy jersey-wear to cover all the needs of a busy child’s wardrobe. It features original prints with a quirky British twist and some key design details to add interest for the child and parent alike.
The collection was finalised on computer with a line-up. This is what it says it is; a line-up of all the selected final garments or outfits in the collection. Technical illustrations are then created, which are like the blueprints of each garment and are used on the specification sheets for the manufacturers. These sheets contain all the necessary information on the garments including; fabrics, construction, stitching and additional components.
In order for me to draft my patterns I started with garments that had the fit that I liked and took lots of measurements from them. These were then used, with the help of a pattern drafting book, to draft my paper patterns. I haven’t drafted patterns since I finished my Master degree 14 years ago so it was a bit of a steep learning curve! For instance, the duffle coat has 23 separate pattern pieces and uses 4 different fabrics; wool coating, bamboo lining, wadding and interfacing. After the toile stage has tackled any problems or last minute design changes to the patterns, final pattern blocks are cut from card. These are the ones that the factory will then use to cut the samples from.
Toiles are prototype garments that are done in a cheap fabric, often cotton calico, to test out the pattern, fit and perfect the design before moving onto sampling in more expensive final fabrics. These are simpler renditions of the garment often not including finishing such as hems or components such as buttons and zips. Cotton calico is a plain, unbleached fabric that makes it easy to spot any problems and also for changes to be drawn straight onto the garment itself. I decided to make some of my toiles out of old clothes to reuse fabric and keep my costs down. This did however, have the effect of me wanting to fully finishing them as the ‘real’ fabric didn’t look right without the top stitching for example. So, I consequently spent longer on these than I really needed to. However, this is an exciting stage as the designs really start to come to life (although my sewing skills were sorely put to the test!)
As most of my garments have a printed element or all-over I have to try these out first too. Some of the printers I have used print off a colour chart on the fabrics first as a guide to get the colours right. Then strike-offs are done - these are test prints on a small amount of the fabric to check on quality and colours before final production printing.
This is the final stage before full production, where the garments are made up in correct fabrics with all finishing and necessary components. A sample of each size, in each style will also be made up, called a size set, to make sure all sizes fit correctly. Such samples in industry are often used to sell the designs to buyers or for marketing in the press. Sometimes they will go a further stage if the buyer wants changes and then may be called preproduction or shipping samples. These are sometimes sold later by the brand at a discount in a sample sale.
Samples will be done for me by the factory I am using as they have all the specialist equipment and are far more skilled than me! I am hoping to be able to start this stage in the next month, so keep reading and following us on social media to keep updated with our progress.
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