Product Development is known as the process of following a product from concept to production. This process may differ depending on the size of the company. For a medium to large size company, many people are involved in the creation of a new design starting with the creative director and/or the designer who gets the ball rolling with the help of their design assistants. This process begins approximately one to two years in advance of the season for which the merchandise will be sold at retail.
Attending trade shows for color, trend and fabric direction for the upcoming season is the first step in the design process. During this process the designer will formulate the theme or inspiration for the collection. Inspiration is often gotten through research, for example a designer could be inspired by a recent vacation to an exotic place or even from a piece of music.
Theme or Concept boards, and Style boards are compiled with the help of design assistants. Theme boards contain images of the designer’s inspiration while Style boards show a combination of fashion illustrations and flat sketches of the collection. These boards are shown to the sales team or to perspective buyers for feedback. Once the theme and styles are approved, the design assistants assemble a Sample Request Package, also known as a tech pack, for each style that will be sent to the factory for a first prototype to be made. This package consists of a technical ‘flat’ drawing and provides specifics of fabric, color, trims, size specifications, and any other essential design details. Tech packs represent the genesis of a design from its inception in the design room all the way to the Approved for Production tech pack that is sent to the factory. A technical designer and specification writer will sometimes assist the design team with writing the garment specs. They are also responsible for checking the first proto and the factory’s pre-production sample.
Once a style is adopted, fit corrected and approved for production, it is the Production Manager who oversees the entire process and scheduling of the garment manufacturing production operation. It is also the function of the Production Manager and his team to agree to target prices, final costing, scheduling and flow, quality control, and meeting delivery due dates. They choose the appropriate fabric mill and sewing contractor, order any trims and piece goods, monitor inventory, prepare cutting tickets, and maintain production records all through a computerized system known as Product Data Management (PDM).
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