The Product Developer is the next step in the cycle from our Designer. A collection can look amazing on paper but can it be turned into a living, breathing garment? A product developer is someone who can manage this transitional phase from sketch to prototype and ensure that a valued product is delivered.
As a Product Developer myself my initial approach to any design brief is a practical one. My aim is to ensure the design is commercially viable and functional. No matter if it’s a couture piece or a volume item the same process needs to be validated and is always the same.
When embarking on a new project I have a few parameters I like to filter the information through. I do this so a brands identity remains in focus at all times. Broadly these are:
✓ Lead Times
At the start of the process a thorough designer will already have selected materials and know when they want their collection to be ready for market.
As product developer I would delve deeper into each aspect making up the design. I would want to know if the materials can be available at the right time and at an acceptable price. I would also be looking at minimum order quantities (MOQ’s) of the selected materials so we could utilise them successfully.
No brand wants left over materials certainly without a plan on how to use it. I have worked with brands that have surplus materials leftover. Unfortunately there is often minimal desire to use it in following seasons through fear of not presenting something new to their customer. Either way this is money tied up in stock, which will eat away at the profit of every range created.
Sometimes the alternative is to make more garments to use up a cloth. Yet again brands don’t need huge amounts of finished garments stocking up either. If this is happening some aspect of your product and its development is not sustainable or commercially viable.
Alongside sourcing materials, our garments need to perform on physical basis. Central to this is choosing materials that are fit for purpose so they can last for the lifespan of the garment.
In addition a product developers knowledge of pattern and garment construction will help validate this. We are trying to ensure that a product can be made efficiently whilst retain the aesthetics of the original design.
Both of these aspects combine to determine if the product is fit for purpose. If its not, materials will need to be altered or designs tweaked to hit the happy balance.
The final piece to the functionality puzzle is choosing the right manufacturer. This impacts the quality of the garments and the timing for product launch. Again being aware of minimum order quantity (MOQ) set by manufactures will help manage the stock a brand can carry. Much like choosing the right materials, we don’t want to over burden the brand with surplus garments.
This whole process of puling together all the strands that make up a product often feels like a game of Snake’s and Ladders. If one aspect doesn’t work or fails to deliver then we go back a few steps and re-build it again. Patience and prudence in the process is vital. It is inevitable that the first garment won’t be 100% or the last one you make!
However by working through development methodically a design can be taken to the next level successfully and a viable product can be achieved.
If you are ready to develop your designs into prototypes and would like support on this journey check our Paper to Prototype package to see how we can help.
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