THE BEGINNING LOOKING BACKWARDS
Long before a new collection is launched, I start preparing by studying the prevailing trends. Not so much the latest fashion fads, but more the general global trends. Political changes have a lot of influence, and right now the digital transition counts for more than anything, with its imperceptible impacts on every one of us. The fashion industry now, as ever, is one of the most sensitive industries to emergent trends. Take for instance the sustainability movement, which in my industry started back in the early 90s. That feels like aeons ago.
THE LATEST COLLECTION IS ALWAYS THE BEST OF THEM ALL!
As a design and purchasing team we study the statistics to understand what worked well or less well in the last collection. We study colours, materials and styles. We look at how our products are presented in the print catalogue and the online store. At our marketing campaigns. At the promotions we ran, such as Lucky Days, dresses promotions etc. At any serious manufacturing challenges we might have faced. At how our collections were received in different markets. It is always gratifying to look back at what we achieved, and to get a sense of what you, our dear customers, liked or disliked.
BRAINSTORMING – THE MOST THRILLING STAGE IN CREATING A NEW COLLECTION
This is where we bounce new ideas off each other. What’s our theme? What are the materials and colours? What silhouette and lines? Are we going with tapered or harem-style trousers? To my mind, trousers are key to the whole look.
Some of us have been roving around the world: in India, Greece or China. New York, London or Berlin. I myself spent a week in Palma de Mallorca, and picked up Mediterranean-style turquoise inspiration for our 2019 Spring Collection. The influences from the countries that make our products are always crucial, in their diverse ethnic design. Everything closer to home tends to seem mundane and dull. Instead, we prefer to head out down the Silk Road to China, passing through all the countries with their diverse textile heritage.
OUR MANUFACTURERS – YEARS OF PARTNERSHIP AND FRIENDSHIP
I keep a personal scrapbook of fabric samples, buttons and sketches as mementoes of meetings with our suppliers. Inspiring little swatches of fabric that are so nice to touch and handle and useful to refer to when creating a new collection. I have scrapbooks covering many, many years – so many wonderful souvenirs. The authentically hand-crafted fabrics and prints especially have a lasting attraction for me, in spite of the difficulties of producing them. When a garment is crafted by hand, the process tends to be uneven, slow and at times more costly. We know that you, our customers, love to get the background story to a collection inspired by Japan, China, India or Sápmi in Northern Europe.
ALL THE DESIGNERS NOW SET ABOUT SKETCHING AND PAINTING
We are four designers, each specialising in different parts of the collection:
— Elvira works on the homeware range, the shoes and a one-of-a-kind line.
— In recent collections, Mia has taken care of our essentials range. She decides the features and colours and how it all coordinates over the season.
— Pia enjoys designing the one-of-a-kind pieces in every collection. She is our specialist in capturing the Scandinavian culture and refining our exquisite jacquard-knit cardigans.
— Gudrun has often come up with ideas in a hotel room during a trip – all kinds of unique ideas drawn from different sources.
Our group also numbers junior designers and assistants who work behind the scenes to get all the artwork done and sent off to our different suppliers. We also have two patternmakers – Eva and Lisa – who do all our sketches, size the garments and supervise that garment fit and sample garments are correctly tailored.
PRESENTATION OF SKETCHES AND WATERCOLOURS
After a few weeks, all of the creative staff, including some of the junior designers, will have sketched their ideas, and these are then presented to everyone in the design and purchasing department. After much discussion and deliberation, as the executive team, we decide which lines are going to be included in the collection. In each collection, the aim is to have 20-30 styles, distributed across 4-5 lines and individual garments. Then there is our essentials range, which is just as large, but only comes out twice a year.
This is followed by the intensive process of settling on all the details.
THE TEST SHOTS ARRIVE IN A STEADY STREAM IN EXPRESS PARCELS
These are truly magic moments – unpacking new styles in new colours and fabrics, which were originally one-dimensional watercolours, and are now real, tangible garments. Can you imagine the kick of styles being even better than we dreamt of?! This closes the cycle, and for us, as members of the design team, it’s time to recharge for the next collection…
Last, but not least – a full twelve months after the collection was designed – we get our customers’ reaction to “the latest collection, which is the best ever”.
With best, inspirational wishes,