In part 1 of this series, I talked about how we set about learning more about the sewists who make our patterns and what they needed, and how we turned that into an overall direction for Colette (and for Seamwork).
Today, I’d like to share more specifics about how we use this information to create designs. I’m going to take you through the process with Rue as an example.
Refining an idea: How we developed Rue
Ok, now that we had an overall style and feeling in mind, it was time to plan some patterns!
First, I used the information I had from our customers and the indie shop owners we’d talked to to really think about what our customers wanted in terms of shapes and styles. We had a pretty good idea at this point of what we wanted to create at the larger level, but we needed concrete designs.
Anna is our designer. Part of Anna’s job is to do research, to study vintage garments sometimes, to sketch lots and lots of ideas for details and variations we could do on a particular design.
She and I start with a concept and collaborate to create a moodboard. The moodboards are meant to tell a visual story about the overall idea, including not just the design but also the way we might present it through fabric, models, photography.
Anna likes to work in an analog way at first, then move into digital sketches as the design gets more finalized.
For Rue, we were originally inspired by a waist yoke detail on a vintage dress I came across. She played around with that basic idea, introducing different types of construction and interesting details that might work.
We also kept seasonality in mind, for both hemispheres. For example, for Rue, we wanted to create something that would be appropriate for fall and would look beautiful styled with fall accessories like cardigans and tights, but could easily be made as a spring or summer garment too. Even though seasons are important for how we show off a new pattern, it’s also important that they feel timeless and adaptable for any time.
Anna sketched lots of ideas and variations until we decided on final concepts. Finally, I take all of this inspiration and refined it into an overall presentation to everyone else, including technical drawings, inspiration, possible fabric choices, and a color palette we could use to style and present the final patterns down the line.
All of the designs we have planned out went through this process, and we created posters for each design. We have these hung around the office to keep us inspired.
Creating the look
Once the patterns are done and fitted (which is a whole other process I won’t go into right now), Taylor uses the creative direction boards to plan our photo shoot.
She uses the information I’ve set out to pick fabrics and palette, to find the right model, to secure a location, and to work with our photographer. She might also plan out special graphics or ideas for editing the photos in a certain way.
For Rue, we wanted that very classic autumnal feel, so Taylor planned a photo shoot at a nearby orchard. We also wanted to use a model that exuded a happy and friendly vibe, who felt relatable.
Taylor also wanted to use some film photography along with digital, so we worked with two photographers: Evie McShane and Michael Bordelon. Our own Katie also took video, so people could get a little sense of how the design might move.
All of this came together in the final version of Rue that you guys get to see. Of course, there’s a lot that goes into the pattern between the creative design and the final presentation, but those parts of the process really bookend the whole thing, from concept to presentation.
What we’ve learned is that, without a clear understanding of the concept, nothing else works quite the same. As a growing team, it’s all about communication.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about the creative process? I wonder, do you have a process for refining your own creative ideas?