Product Development: From Design to Department Store

1140015-10-1307123566936Product 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.

CAD2Once 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).


Tech Pack - Leather Jacket
Tech Pack – Leather Jacket
Product Development
Jacket Flat Drawing
Jacket Flat Drawing
Product Development
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Francesca Sterlacci is the CEO of University of Fashion (UoF) which she founded in 2008 as the first on-demand online fashion video library bringing the art and craft of fashion design and business to schools, libraries, organizations and the general public. As owner of her eponymous label for ten years, her collection sold in fine stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Barneys and Nordstrom. As a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology for 11 years, she became Chair of the Fashion Design Department where she initiated the complete revision of their AAS and BFA degree programs, as well as wrote three certificate programs: Leather Fashion Design, Outerwear and Haute Couture. Francesca has also taught graduate level fashion design at the Academy of Art University San Francisco for six years, both on site and online. Her publishing accomplishments include: Leather Apparel Design, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (First and Second Editions), the A-Z of the Fashion Industry, Leather Fashion Design and a 3-volume beginner series on Draping, Pattern Making and Sewing designed to complement the UoF lessons. She has also made literary contributions to both the Encyclopedia of Clothing & Fashion and You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Women. Francesca holds an AAS, BA and an MSEd (master’s degree in higher education).