How to start designing your 1st collection.

Do you have a fashion idea but you’re struggling to translate your creative vision into designs? You don’t know what steps to take first, then this post is going to help. 

We have broken the process down, step by step, so that you will know how to start designing your 1st collection.

How to start designing your 1st collection

Choosing which global trends you will use to influence your design.

There are numerous ways you can gather trends to understand what the seasonal and global trends are.

Depending on your brand’s USP, how much you choose to follow trends is your choice, but it is worth being aware of what blocks and colours came off the catwalks and knowing the latest street fashion.

Sources are:

  • Trend forecasters, for example, WGSN.
  • The trend shows like Premier vision.
  • Editorials like Trendspotter, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Instyle, Stylecaster.
  • Seasonal catwalk shows held in February and September hosted by the key fashion cities in the world; NYC, London, Paris and Milan.
  • Street fashion.

Decide the collection story and create a mood board.

A mood board should consist of both paper cuttings and fabric swatches. You can also include, bought samples of styles you love and wish to replicate.

I encourage startups to give their collection a name, as it helps you to visualise the story, your brand vision easier.

Setting your colour palette and gaining lab dips.

Your colour palette will naturally come from your mood board, you just need to pull these colours out to highlight the 3-6 that you will follow.

A tip is to also ensure the colours you choose match back with your hardware, for example, zippers!

The next important step is to find out the Pantone refs, as this will massively help when requesting lab dips on your chosen fabric as you will have a code to quote.

Importantly – don’t gain lab dips on a different fabric base as won’t be a true representation of your final colour nor product!

"Importantly - don’t gain lab dips on a different fabric base as won't be a true representation of your final colour nor product!"


Deciding your fabric and trim choices.

The best way to decide which fabric and trims are right for your design is through research.

  • Visit shops and take inspiration from others.
  • Go on a sourcing trip to your local market or haberdashery store.
  • Reference a product you already have!

This part of the process will be easy if the fabric has informed the design; for example, the fabric is the showpiece!

If not, you need to find the fabric to work with your design. Always have the end product in mind.
Does it need to be;

  • Durable?
  • Glamourous?

How to create a tech pack and its importance.

The information you must include in a tech pack is:

  • Sketch and measurements.
    • Trim placement if relevant.
    • Photograph as many design features as possible. Photography helps bring your design to life.
  • Colour and/or print reference.
    • Print placement if relevant.
  • Fabrics and trims. Quote the reference number if applicable, and take a photo of it too and attach it to the pack. State the fabric composition.
  • Delivery date. Be specific about where the stock should be delivered and when.
  • Labels. State which labels you want to apply to the final product. For example, swing tags, care label and state who’s providing them
  • Sample requirements. State the size of the fit sample. State the size grading you will be ordering it in, for example, UK 6 – 16.
  • Lead time. State when you need the 1st fit sample by and get them to confirm all other dates for example seal by date to meet your delivery date.
  • Packing information. For example, hanging, or flat pack and any special requests for example wrap gemstones with tissue paper.
  • Fabric testing. If you require specific testing, for example, a platform requires a certificate or you’re a sustainable brand that requires proof of make. Now is your time to state it.
Free content - ultimate guide

Finally, the reason why it’s so important is that this one document translates your design into a manufacturer language. Without this, you are leaving it open to interpretation which is dangerous.

The importance of creating a sample tracker board.

A sample tracker board is not to be confused with your range plan.

A sample tracker board is a visual guide. This means you can visualise your entire collection.

  • It enables you to be able to see how the collection is coming together and spot any gaps.
  • Sample tracker boards also help you to track outstanding designs and/or sales samples.

How you lay the board out is your choice. Do what works best for you. Layouts could be:

  • By category.
  • By story.
  • By colour palette.
  • By drop.

The importance of conducting a range sign off.

A range sign off would always happen in a mid-large size fashion brand therefore it should happen for small brands too!

By conducting a ‘formal’ range sign off it forces you to think if every option is good enough and encourages open discussions about:

  • Commerciality of the design.
  • Is every design feature needed?
  • The value. Is the style worth the RRP?
  • How much does everyone ‘love it’? This will help you design styles that more people will buy into.

So ask your friends, family, and ideally some impartial ex. colleagues to join you and give their feedback on your first collection before you place any orders.

And that's how you start designing your 1st collection!

Looking to learn more about what it takes to launch your 1st fashion collection?

Then you’re GOING to want to download thisHow To Start A Clothing Line – The Ultimate Guide. 

Why? Because it covers all of these critical steps:

  • Step 1: How to find your niche in the market and stand out ahead of competitors.
  • Step 2: What an e-commerce collection should look like; covering options framework, sustainability, and timings.
  • Step 3: Where to get started when producing your 1st collection covering, design make and ship.
  • Step 4: How to set up a fashion business and forecast your 1st year of sales.
  • Step 5: How to build and launch your fashion brand covering; branding, sales channel setup and pre-launch marketing strategies.
  • Step 6: You’ve launched! … Now what do you do.

Grab your free copy now!

You should also read ...

Leave a comment