Designing to a brief

As a fashion designer, you will always have a client or target customer in mind. You cannot afford to be self-indulgent and simply create designs to suit your own tastes. It is, however, perfectly acceptable to develop a recognizable style. You will notice that all the famous fashion houses have their own particular style; the clothes have a unigue flavor that reflects the philosophy of the designer.

A Trend awareness

Skirts for men, such as this example by Dries Van Noten, have been in and out of fashion In recent years. Make sure that your designs are in line with the latest style trend predictions.

There are various limitations associated with working to a design brief and it Is best to confirm them before you begin. Your budget, for example, will be dictated by the price at which your garments can be sold. It is common in the fashion industry to establish a rigid and logical price structure for all the pieces in a collection—a vest top will be cheaper than a long-sleeved garment, for example—and your designs should reflect this. A garment that is very embellished will have a high perceived value, but you must be certain that the customer is willing to pay the increased price.

You also need to be sure you are designing appropriate garments for the time of year when they will appear and that your work is in line with fashion trend predictions for that season.

Another very important factor is the nature of your target customer. You should aim to construct a profile of the kind of person who is likely to wear the designs you will produce for each project. Fashion designers call this imaginary, or indeed sometimes real, person their "muse." You can create your own muse by building up a selection of magazine images that represent your customer. You will need to consider gender, age, economic status, lifestyle, occupation, and anything else that could Influence choice of fashion. What does your muse do for a living? What does he or she like to do on the weekend or in the evening? Where does he or she live? The answers to these questions will help you to build up the profile.

T Lifestyle patterns

What is your customer's social life? This design by Ghost is aimed at someone with sophisticated tastes.

Market Economy Influences Fashion

Just as designers make target customers the focus for their work, so retailers establish target markets. Each market may capture a number of lifestyles, and each retailer may target more than one market. It would be wrong for a large retailer to expect an 18-year-old to wear the same outfit as an 80-year-old, although both customers might shop in the store. A clear understanding of the lifestyle of both these customers and the markets that they represent will ensure that the garments produced for them are appropriate.

Bear all these considerations in mind to avoid lapsing into designing only what pleases you personally. You need to maintain a delicate balance between your own style and designs that appeal to your customer. As a designer, you may sometimes have to cope with creating garments that you personally dislike. The measure of a true professional is the ability to work with enthusiasm and passion on designs that are focused on someone else's taste.

During your career you might be called upon to design for a wide range of potential customers. This may sometimes require you to design garments that do not match your personal tastes.

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