Five Easy Steps to Making a Clothing Collection
This video explores the full process Dani of Dazey LA takes to design, manufacture, shoot, and release a collection. A true behind the scenes look into running and creating a fashion brand. Follow all the small business fun @dazey_la where we share BTS daily!
There is a lot that goes into the making of a clothing collection and this is my best shot at breaking down the process into five easy steps! I can only speak from my personal knowledge and attest to what works for me. Hope you find it helpful :)
We made a full video on the topic with the amazing Marissa Rascon of Reel Rad Films. Please check out the vid along with the steps broken down in words and images below!
Step 1: Find your theme and inspiration
It can seem daunting to design a whole collection! A great way to get started is to come up with a theme. For this collection I wanted a tropical look mixed with positive verbiage promoting self love. Once I had that established it was much easier to plan the designs to match.
I can pull inspiration from everywhere and anywhere. Once I go into "inspiration hunting mode" I find it in all sorts of places. Sometimes that means coming up with an idea while I'm walking around the street or as simple as scrolling through Pintrest. There's not some big secret to being hit by inspiration, you just have to look for it.
I jot down all of these ideas in my phone so when it comes time to design I have a good list to go off of. I write little descriptions for each idea, and then find a few inspiration photos to reference. I put those photos right next to the blank page I am designing on.The trick is pulling bits and pieces from each inspiration image to create something totally new. I do all of my designs in Adobe Illustrator using a drawing tablet and then texture in Photoshop. It's very important to me that each graphic has a hand drawn feel and vintage vibe to it.
Step 2: Merchandising
This is a super fun step! At this point I have all the designs created but no solid color story or idea the fashion bodies yet. I play with all sorts of options and colors and see what works best.
Coming up with colors has a lot to do with the season and feel of the collection theme! For the Summer of Self Love collection I wanted warm and fun colors that reminded people of a sunny day at the beach. I went for a playful pink and rich cognac to add that pop of color! There is even a splash of teal in two of the designs to add that tropical feel. I try to tie those colors into all of the graphics to make everything look cohesive. Good merchandising is all about making a collection that looks solid together!
We have our classic tee as a staple but I usually design some special cut & sew bodies (term for the blank tee) to make the collection more unique. A lot of tee brands buy blanks from other companies and just print their design & logo on them. At Dazey we wanted to make everything custom just for us! Often times I use flat photos of tee bodies and manipulate them in photoshop to look like a brand new design. For example, the tanks you see below are just photos of the tees with the arms cropped off haha. If it's a totally new body I have to create it from scratch in Adobe Illustrator making a flat illustration.
Once I have all the bodies and color story it's time to match the graphics to the tees! I line up all the bodies in photoshop and plop the graphics on top to get a visual. This process can take some time to get right. I do two color and body offerings per graphics so I try to make them different enough, yet still work on both bodies and color-ways!
Step 3: Production
A necessary evil. Finding a great factory to work with is key. Luckily, I have an awesome production partner who is really great at bringing my ideas to life. We also get along famously and have such a fun time working together! We met though one of my freelance clients at a trade show, networking and putting yourself out there is so important.
My production partner is on board with my mission to make things locally to order. We do this in an effort to avoid waste and create the best quality garment. They sew small batches of the blank bodies and as the orders come in they will print the graphics via a screen printing process. The tricky thing with going about creating the clothing in this way is it takes time! Hence my adoption of the phrase, "Slow Fashion."
I send the team over my mock up of the collection and they get to sampling. Once they have the first samples of the bodies I will try them on and make adjustments on fit and color. Once the bodies are approved they will do the prints and then deliver the full collection ready for the shoot!
Step 4: Shooting the Collection
This is what really brings everything to life! I love putting the clothes on the models and seeing new Dazey in action.
I choose to do my own photography to keep everything cohesive and on brand for Dazey. Shooting graphic tees can be tricky so I'm extra careful about the models poses and hair placement. Plus I love taking pictures haha.
All of my lookbook shoots are a huge collaborative effort. I invite other female entrepreneurs to join in so we can all benefit with killer content. We also benefit from cross promoting each other's brands in posts. I often work on a trade basis, like trading graphic designs or photos, so most of my shoots don't cost me a dime. For this shoot Marissa of Reel Rad Films approached me with the idea of making a video and hooked up the epic location though her friend Michelle of 6th and Detroit. We pulled in a jewelry designer to dress up the Dazey and the models even helped style with pieces from their clothing line, Monatazami Brand. A 4th generation lei maker contacted me via Instagram about collaborating and I knew it would just be perfect for the vibe :) These are just a few examples!
All the Dazey Ladies involved in this shoot and video:
Step 5: Going Live
Lastly, I have to get everything up on the site and make some serious commotion about the new collection! I use Shopify to host my website and it makes it pretty easy (yet sometimes time consuming) to upload products. I make sure to post photos showing off the garments from every angle. Descriptions are very important too for an online store since people can't see and feel the goods in person. Be as specific as possible naming fabrics and dimensions. On top of the technical stuff be sure to write a little story about the inspiration behind the piece and what it means to you. When it's all ready, go ahead and publish... ahhh!
Then you have to promote! Post everywhere and anywhere. I'm talking emails blasts, multiple Instagram posts, Insta story, Facebook, Pintrest- basically all the platforms you have. Have your fellow collaborators post that day too so you can really hype it up. Then all you have to do is watch the sales come in haha, though this can take time!
Shop this full collection HERE :)