Sweat The Small Stuff: Why Details In Design Matter

When you’re manufacturing your product, whether it’s furniture or clothing or anything else, it pays to sweat the details. The details are what makes the whole thing come together.

Here are the top three reasons you should pay attention to detail when manufacturing.

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Your customers will notice

Everyone has a few things they own that are perfect because they get the details right: the jacket that fits like you were born to wear it, the boots that break in perfectly after a few months of wear, the bag you’ve beaten up for five years and it still looks great.

There are still designers creating plain white sneakers. There are plain white sneakers that cost hundreds of dollars. But what distinguishes, say, Common Projects from Converse?

It’s the fit, the feel, the finish, the materials, and the subtle gold numbers on the side. It’s the way that when you use a product that’s exactly right, you notice that everything before has been deficient in some way.

When founding my own clothing company, Telegram Co., we wanted to make jeans with this in mind. It’s amazing how many jeans companies, for example, go through all the trouble of creating a pair of jeans and then fail to differentiate themselves adequately.

We went with something simple, something minimal, with gold text on black leather:

Because detail isn’t about useless ornamentation, it’s about small things that’ll enhance your brand.

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You’re already paying for it

You’re already paying for great materials (hopefully). You’re already paying for the labor. You’re paying for the sourcing, you’re paying for the manufacturing, and it’s on you to get it right.

Moreover, mistakes can be expensive: in our pre-production testing, we ran into a problem while attaching rivets to jeans. Attaching rivets for our blue jeans worked perfectly, but the rivets for our black jeans frequently didn’t seem to “take”, and would require two or three tries before lying flat.

The rivets came from the same manufacturer, they were of the exact same dimension, and they were being attached with the same machine and die size. Why the difference?

Well, when we sourced our components, we paired black nickel finishes with black denim (for a modern black-on-black look), and copper finishes with blue denim (for a more classic look). But it turns out that nickel is a harder metal than copper. Which means that with the machine we were using, copper rivets were “punched in” just the right amount, but the nickel was being pushed too lightly, causing the rivet to deform and lose its hold.

Luckily we caught this before the jeans went into production, and we worked with the factory to tune the machine for the two different metals, giving us a perfect press every time.

Had this mistake found its way into production, however, we would have had to trash hundreds of pairs of jeans — at our own expense!

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It’s a competitive advantage

If you’re manufacturing in America, or if you’ve picked a local factory to do business with, you can collaborate in ways that outsourcers cannot. You can oversee production yourself, you can have them turn around a sample for you in less than a week, you can try different techniques in real-time rather than going through a painful process of telephone.

During our manufacturing, we were able to try out different stitches, different threadwidths, and different colors quickly and with minimal expense. We collaborated closely with our factory here in Brooklyn, and were able to create a product that perfectly reflected our vision.

We could have had it done for a third the price outside the US, but the product wouldn’t be the same. Our product turned out well because we could oversee production closely, and we were able to see our vision come to life over a year-long journey.

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The Design Process Is Never Short Of Interesting Details:

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