Every season, it’s always thrilling to watch the biggest fashion shows in the world as designers send their most spectacular creations down the runway. No matter how many fashion shows you’ve seen, there’s always something new and innovative. And as flawless and elegant it might look on the runway, for each and every collection there’s a serious amount of hard work, sleepless nights and true dedication behind it.
Inspiration doesn’t always just happen at the snap of a finger. Actually, it’s rare when it does! Fashion designers often seem like they’re naturally creative and inspired, but more often than not. That is not the case.
Below, you’ll find a series of tips to help anyone (whether is haute couture gowns or personalised T-shirts) design a collection.
Start by examining the current state of the fashion industry
Like with many other industries, the rise of all things online is changing how the fashion business works. Having collections that photograph well is more essential than ever. Clever social media marketing campaigns and tactics are taking brands to new levels and creating major buzz around their upcoming collections. The coolest social media stars are just as important as major magazine editors for deeming what’s hot and what’s not.
See now, buy now
Consumers are also demanding to get their hands on products right here and now. Some designers, like Burberry, are letting customers buy their new collection as soon as it walks down the runway, rather than making them wait six months. Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford have also used “see-now, buy-now.”
Fast fashion is also on the rise, thanks to chains like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 that change collections in the blink of an eye. Sometimes as little as 10 days to get a new design into the shops from sketchpad to hanger. Shipments are sent to stores twice a week. They don’t follow the trends, but instead evaluate them based on what’s selling well in stores.
And as far as specific trends? Expect to see lots of stripes and funky sneakers for a sporty style in the upcoming year. “Easy elegance” is the new hot word. There are also plenty of creative prints inspired by painters or other artists. Comfort mixed with style is hotter than ever. Take an in-depth look at the trends to watch from Elle magazine’s experts.
Guess what? This little summary is exactly the sort of stuff you should start with when you’re on the lookout for inspiration. Knowing what’s going on is essential to success. You need to know how you measure up, and you need to have an idea of what consumers are into at the moment. The most beautiful, thoughtful collection may struggle to make an impact if it’s exactly what we saw two seasons ago.
Great fashion strikes the balance between what’s on trend and what’s totally new and unexpected.
Ask yourself: Who am I designing for?
It would be wonderful if everybody on the planet adored your clothes and wanted to buy them right now. But it’s impossible to make something that’s universally appealing. That means you’ll need to dedicate some time to thinking about who you want your clothes to speak to.
Draft your ideal buyer persona
Here are some fantastic tips to help you narrow down who your target customer is. If your ideal customer is you, then it’s not too tricky a task. But if it’s someone else, you’ll need to think about everything from their age and income to their lifestyle. Who are they, and where are they going in your clothes?
- Ask questions and get out there and talk to your ideal customer
- Make sure you’re creating the clothing they want to buy
- Keep in mind that your target doesn’t necessarily have to be just one person
- Your ideal customers may also change and evolve over time
The key to finding great images is always being on
Don’t be too picky
Simply soak in as much as you can, and then use our next step to help reduce it down to the strongest elements. But for now, you’re simply exploring.
If you’ve already decided on a theme or concept, then seek out materials that relate to it. Immerse yourself in this idea – read books, flip through magazines, browse Pinterest and blogs, listen to music, page through coffee table books of art or photography, visit museums or places that are relevant…the possibilities are nearly endless.
Don’t take it too seriously
Try to relax and enjoy the process. Yes, it can be frustrating if you can’t find things you like on demand, or when you overthink and wonder if you truly like a certain picture. But don’t stress; this happens to lots of creative types. Clip and save a bunch of images now and think about them later when you create a mood board. Coming back to the research later with fresh eyes often makes things much clearer.
Make a mood board
Mood boards are an incredible resource when it comes to finding inspiration. You can collect images that you love to inspire your collection, either on a physical board or online. This is a helpful tool to narrow down exactly what you’re going for, as a mood board can make it easy to see what fits in and what doesn’t.
You can also try adding words or concepts that you want your collection to evoke. It all depends on which way you take in information the best. For more information on mood boards, check out the article we wrote on the topic here.
By this point, you should have plenty of preparation to start having some ideas of what you want your collection to look like. Grab a sketchbook and a pencil and play around with concepts.
- At first, just go with the flow and see what comes out
- Later, you can shape the ideas and start piecing together a collection of connected concepts
- If you’re having trouble getting started, try giving yourself just a ten-minute window to sketch in
Often, you’ll find that once you’ve broken the ten-minute barrier you’ll keep going and going with new ideas. Limits can be very helpful for being creative, although it might sound counter-intuitive.
Here’s a real fashion designer who explains how she finds her source of inspiration to get sketching — and, more importantly, creating clothing.
Remember to relax, science says so!
Creativity doesn’t always just flow. There are lots of steps behind the creative process that you can take to get inspired. Practice makes perfect, but forcing yourself to be creative doesn’t necessarily get you out of a truly stuck moment.
What neuroscience suggests is that lots of insights and breakthroughs happen when people are relaxed and their brain is disengaged. Suddenly, you find yourself in the shower and the spark goes off.
However. This does not mean just relax and inspiration comes naturally! You can certainly help this spark to go off when you reach the right moment. Practising creativity helps you to become more creative more frequently. Musician Brian Eno explained,
“The point about working is not to produce great stuff all the time, but to remain ready for when you can.”
Help your brain to get ready for that lightning bolt of inspiration by following the above steps. Eno also says that working helps you “be successful when you’re not inspired.” Let’s be real; not every single piece of clothing you produce is going to be born out of an incredible wow moment. Lots of it is just plain old hard work. It’s not glamorous, but it’s the truth!
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