Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Starting Blocks

Today is the day I start the SS14 range for shirts, ties and accessories. I've just placed the fabric orders for AW13 14 and negotiated delivery dates with all the factories. As my placement comes to an end shortly I've been asked to get the next range finished ahead of time - I'm actually excited at the prospect of everything, not only being on time for once, but early as well!

I'm currently on the train to London to start the process, I'll be visiting the current range and assessing its success by talking with the sales staff and asking what they'd like to see for spring summer. I'll then visit our competitors and see what they're doing (a bit cheeky but everyone has to do it - you don't want to miss out on a major trend).

If I've got time I will also try to visit the V&A, they've got a David Bowie exhibition starting this week, his flamboyant and eccentric style has influenced many a designer over the decades including the great Paul Smith (see this weeks Mr Porter Journal).

On the train back tonight I'll write up my conclusions and ideas for SS14 and when I'm back in the office I'll look at the fabrics from Premiere Vision (see my previous post). I'll then choose the range, creating initial design boards.

I also like to look at trend forecasting site Mudpie, partly because I'm passionate about this aspect of the industry but also for inspiration with colours, vision and accessories.

Once the fabrics are finalised I'll create the design sheets, choosing the fit, collar, cuffs, trims and design details. I also have to take in to account the suits which are overlooked by a separate buying team we try to make the range cohesive so they sit well in stores and encourage add on sales.

When we have the finished shirt range; prices have been negotiated, deliveries agreed and all elements (branding, trim, fabrics etc) have been synchronised we meet with merchandise who tell us how much of each shirt we can buy and asses our margins (being a small but luxury brand means margins are tight). Quantities may then affect prices- if we don't meet minimums on fabrics we can be charged extra which is why it's important to form good relationships with suppliers- they can sometimes let you off the surcharges!

From the shirts, the ties and accessories fall in to place and colours are developed. Since starting on this brand I've been pushing for tie bars - perhaps an obvious thing but with tight margins any risk can be detrimental. At the conference earlier in the month (see my previous blog) store managers asked to see them along with a whole new range of accessories which I'm now going to develop.

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