Technical Failings Between Design and Product Development in Fashion
Any functioning business should view design and development as part of an ongoing operational lifecycle. The issue with design and development is that these are two stages of innovation that feature heightened risks, which can lead to the failure of a project. The fashion industry is unique in many ways, but this doesn’t mean that businesses in the industry can’t learn from the NPD (new product development) steps that other industries follow when delivering successful projects.
Three Key Mistakes in the Technical Process
Mistake #1: Failing to Communicate
A lack of communication is often a leading factor when it comes to failures on a project. Designers create an innovative and compelling new piece or collection, and then product developers try to implement that design into production. A lot can get lost between design and manufacturing. Developers may consider cost cutting methods, altering materials or even complete design concepts. Communication is key, and should continue through the NPD process. Developers should not be afraid to feed their concerns back to designers, so that the end product can be a true reflection of the original vision.
Mistake #2: Unrestricted Creativity
Unchecked creativity can also be detrimental to the process. Creative types are the key innovators in the fashion world, however creativity does not always result in a product that is marketable. The design of a product can contribute to up to 80% of the end stage manufacturing costs.
When the budget is tight, development leads need to be given the authority to limit what they accept from design teams. Although it seems counterintuitive to stifle creativity from a later stage in the process, it can actually benefit cost and time to market. Again, communication is key, and a solid leadership structure needs to be implemented. Having a lead product creation executive will be critical to ensuring that everyone involved in the process is on the same page when it comes to operations, restrictions, roles, and responsibilities.
Mistake #3: Designing Without Manufacturing in Mind
DFM (Design for Manufacturing) is a process that is promoted and enforced in many of the leading engineering and technology firms. The fashion industry could benefit from such an approach. Many designers in fashion produce pieces and collections without considering what is feasible from a manufacturing standpoint.
In DFM, design is carried out with consideration to readily available materials, production methods, and costs. Development teams would closely collaborate with designers when a system of DFM is in place. Rather than stifling creativity, DFM enables designers to think outside of the box while using a predetermined set of resources. There’s still opportunity for innovation, but ultimately the products that reach market will be more profitable and easier to produce.
Collaboration is Key
A lack of collaboration is often the lead determining factor in technical failings between fashion designers and developers. Designers cannot work completely independently of development teams, and development teams should not be afraid to go back to designers when a product doesn’t suit current technologies or financial restrictions.
By implementing better NPD processes, fashion companies will be able to bring more products to market, without the risk of failed projects and costly product design cycles.
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Photo: Production Paradise