From Design to Shelf: Fashion’s Product Lifecycle

March 18, 2011

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fashion design

A lot goes into the creation of an article of clothing before it hits the rack. Each step in the product’s lifecycle is important, and looking at the process can help consumers understand how much hard work really goes into creating fashion.

To help Ai InSite get a better understanding of the process of designing apparel, we talked with Sudan Price, a junior designer and a product developer at cycling clothing manufacturer Castelli.

Castelli produces high-performance cycling apparel for men and women and their extensive product line offers many design opportunities. Each season the clothing line plan is created and reviewed between the Italian and U.S. offices. At that point, they decide which division is responsible for each design listed in the plan. It is Price’s responsibility to create designs for some of the pieces assigned to the U.S. division.

In addition to design, Price works in a product development role and is responsible for communicating all the details required to produce the assigned garments with the factories.

“Castelli is a large international company headquartered in Italy, but the U.S. division is quite small, thus the dual roles for me,” says Price, who has an Apparel Design degree from The Art Institute of Portland. “Everyone in the Castelli U.S. division plays a role in the lifecycle of the product.”

Design Process

Price’s design process begins with receiving the specifications and requirements for the garment she is to design.

“I then do research,” she says. “I look at what our competitors are doing, then shop and look at similar garments, noting construction and details.”

Price also researches her “inspiration” – elements that fit within the Castelli brand and identity.

The next step is the initial conceptual illustrations, which Price does on the computer and presents to the head of U.S. sales for Castelli. After they select the designs they want to go to the second round, Price makes any necessary edits and sends the final designs to the Italian headquarters for feedback and approval.

Once approved, a technical packet is created and sent with the illustrations to the factory for the development of the first prototypes, which are also reviewed.  

“At this point, a few more designs may be dropped or postponed until the next season,” Price says.

Photos of the next round of prototypes are sometimes sent to Castelli’s U.S. team from the factory that produces them. “… or my boss will fly to the factory and review them in person,” Price says. “Anything to keep the production process moving forward fast.”

Sales samples are developed from the approved prototypes; these samples are shipped to Castelli sales representatives around the world.

Selling the Fashion Design

Clothing sales representatives sell apparel lines for fashion designers and manufacturers. The Castelli sales representatives introduce the cycling apparel samples to retailers in their assigned regions and take orders for the products.

While the representatives are selling, Price says her team is forecasting what the orders may be.

“We need to start production right away and do not always get all the orders from the reps in a timely manner,” she says. “After long meetings by the management team on the forecast, a consensus is reached and we begin production.”

Within approximately three to four months, the ordered product goes from the factories to the U.S. warehouse and is logged into the inventory system. The warehouse then pulls the products ordered by each store and ships them, fulfilling the orders.

Price says Castelli products are reviewed and the company welcomes customer feedback.

“We want 100% satisfaction by our customers,” she says. “We always want to keep innovating and improving our products.”

“There is a deep sense of pride in the brand and we want to be known as having the best, most innovative product in our industry,” Price says.


Author: Darice Britt
Contributing writer for EDMC.

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