Clothing design usually begins with inspiration. Inspiration can be the material itself or people, place, or thing.
The key attribute of a designer is to be constantly curious and observant of the world around you. To design collection after collection, bringing originality and style to a range of garments, requires an outward focus. Good places to start are trend shows, museums and libraries, and observing current cultural themes.
Define Your Customer
If you are to design affordable, desirable clothes you will need to know the age and socio-economic profile of your customer. If your customer is young, you will want to design trendy, fun and affordable clothes, so you will have to pay attention to the price of the skins that you select for your design. Similarly if you have an older, more mature customer garment, with attention paid to interesting details. You must always choose your skins according to your price point.
Market research is the best way to see, at first hand, what the competition is doing as well as to learn what your customer is buying. It also gives you the opportunity to see the types off skins being used by other designers the silhouettes that are being shown for that season and what the price points are.
Attend Forecast/ Trend Shows
Most designers, especially those in the mass market category, will want to know what fashion industry trend services are predicting for the upcoming season. While there are no trend services exclusively for leather apparel, forecast services, such as Peclers, Promostyl and the Doneger Group, provide information that can be used by leather apparel manufacturers. These services predict color, fabric, silhouette and trend information, for a membership fee. Fibre manufacturers Cotton Incorporated and DuPont offer trend and color information at no charge.
Attend Trade Shows:
There are numerous leather shows throughout the year. These shows allow designers to keep abreast of the latest trends and advances in leather tanning and design. New treatments, colors and skin textures are always being introduced at these shows. Leather designers should also keep up to date on textile trends by attending the top fabric shows, such as Premier Vision in Paris (October and March) and the International Fabric Fashion Fabric Exhibition in New York(November and April).
Travel To Find Inspiration
Many mass manufacturers find inspiration in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Milan, Florence, Munich, Duuseldorf, Montreal, Tokyo, Barcelona and Brussels. Their designers might photograph merchandise in store windows, sketch things that they see and or purchase items that they might wish to copy or interpret for their own collection. This is a way for their company management to see new merchandise and trends at first hand.
Read Trade Press:
Designers should constantly read fashion magazines for color and trend direction. In addition to the specialized leather apparel magazines, designers should read all of the most important fashion magazines, both American and European. Designers should also regularly read trade papers such as Women’s Wear Daily for up to the minute information. Designers affiliated with a manufacturer who is a member of the Leather Industries of America or the Leather Apparel Association should also be reading the newsletters produced by these trade organizations for current information.
Carry Out Research in Museums and Libraries
Designers can gain inspiration from numerous sources but one of the best ways comes from studying what designers in the past have done. Many museums throughout the world, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, exhibit the costumes of particular designers and or certain periods in history, which can have a surprising influence on current fashion trends. FIT in New York also has wonderful exhibits and a very extensive costume library as does the Musee de la Mode in Paris. All of these museums and institutes also have book and magazine libraries.
Pay Attention to Non-Fashion Events and Trends:
Designers should always be aware of all the events that are going on around them. Current trends in music, film, dance, theatre, and even local news can be potential sources of design inspiration. Some of the major trends in fashion in the past have been a result of such influences. For example, many designers have tied their collections into musical trends such as grunge and hip hop. ‘ People watching ‘ from a park bench or from a table at a street café can also provide inspiration.