A Guide to Starting Design Development

1. Identify your market and the person you’re targeting.

To start off, I begin by researching everything there is to know about my target customer. I first identify her/him and try and learn everything about them: demographically, psychographically, and everything in between from the moment they wake up to where they hang out, the things they do and why they do it, their likes and dislikes, etc. Identify your competition as well and visit the shops where those labels & lines are being sold and check them out. This is another great way to get a glimpse of your customer as well!

2. Concept


Once you know who your target is, you can identify your concept or inspiration. It can be anything from color, a period in time, a structure or architecture, a smell, a quote, a muse… Once you have identified your concept or inspiration, the next step is to research everything about it, like you did for your target customer. Identify the season you are designing for: Spring/Summer, Resort/Cruise, Fall/Winter, Pre-Fall, etc.

3. Colors

alphabet color

While you’re doing your research, start collecting a series of images from which you can draw a mood and key colors. The mood and key colors will be used as reference for choosing the fabrics that will be appropriate for the season and market you are designing for. Once you have this, identify shapes or silhouettes within the mood and images collected. Begin by experimenting with the shapes, silhouettes and color/ fabric combinations through a series of sketches. When you reach this point, you have officially started the design development process.

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4. Textiles

textile for Habito Post

The design development process is where you put your creativity on paper. During this process, ask yourself questions like: are there clean lines in your concept? Or should there be a print? Take silhouettes and play with different shapes and volumes. Alternatively, take a simple shape like a triangle or a rectangle and see how you can play around with it so it fits on the body. Go back and forth between sketches and experimenting with fabric on the mannequin. Like a sculptor, there is no right or wrong way to the design development process. It should be fun for you and a time for you to really express yourself and experiment.  Just make sure you have exhausted all your ideas before the editing process begins. From 50 sketches to 25 to 15. Remember to use the best work that conveys your story and is well merchandised.

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