5 fashion secrets from a designer

Ever wondered how designers create trends? Need tips to make your finer clothing last longer? Want a simple and effective way to balance your shape? Well, wait no more. This designer is here to share a few of the fashion secrets she knows.

Secret #1: It's Not All About Creativity

One of the things I learned during my fashion studies in college in the late 90s (eek!) is that fashion design is not all creativity. Yes, an idea for a garment does have to come from our creative side and sometimes we use muses for inspiration. When it comes to building a collection, research is involved. We look at trend forecast reports. These reports let the design team know what colors and global events are likely to influence an upcoming season.

From this report, designers can tailor whatever ideas they have to incorporate one or two of the findings in the report or they will use the report for inspiration. This is why you see a certain theme or color scheme appearing amongst different designer collections each season. For a taste of a trend report that is available for the public to see, check out Pantone's Fashion Color Report for Fall 2012.

Secret #2: Retailers Drive the Fashion Trends

You may notice a certain color or style that you like on the runway. However, when that fashion season hits, you can't find that runway look anywhere. This is because of retailers or more specifically fashion buyers. Fashion buyers select the collection or items from a specific collection for the store they work for. Higher-end stores like Neiman Marcus are the leaders of these trends.

Each season, Ken Downing Creative Director for Neiman Marcus, compiles his list of what trends will be hits. Other retailers notice this and will offer fashions related to those trends at their stores. Not every runway look makes it into stores. Case in point, how many pairs of Marc Jacobs' pilgrim shoes from his fall 2012 collection have you noticed in stores as fall merchandise rolls in?

Secret #3: Use Color to Your Advantage

There are plenty of tips and tricks for dressing for every type of figure. The easiest way to look better is to choose colors that work for you. This fall, all shades of green are the trend with navy coming a close second. If green makes your face look dull then wear shades in that color on your lower half.

Know what color can do to for your figure as well. If you do not have a symmetrical, hourglass shape then you may need to choose clothing that creates balance for your figure. Color is the easy way to do this. Simple rule to follow: Light and bright highlights while muted and dark de-emphasize. If you are larger at the bottom and small on top, wear your lights and brights on top and save the dark, muted colors for your lower half.

Secret #4: Production Costs Raise Clothing Prices

Production costs are the number one price driver regardless of brand. Besides the cost of workers, there is the cost of fabric and notions -- items such as thread, buttons, zippers, hooks and eyes, etc., -- factor into the price. The larger the size, the more fabric needed. Also, the production time increases for larger garments. While it may take a half hour to construct a size 6 dress, it could take an hour to construct a size 26. It is not always price gouging. When you go shopping for clothing and you question the cost, consider these things:

  • The size of the garment.
  • Quality of fabric - Silk is more expensive than plain weave rayon.
  • Quality of the construction - If the stitching is tight and even versus if it is loose and sloppy looking. Is it machine stitched or hand stitched (hand stitching increases cost significantly)?
  • Quality of notions used - Plated metal or precious metal? Metal zippers versus plastic zippers.
  • Brand - If the designer shows at New York, London, Milan, or Paris then expect to pay more.

Secret #5: Tools to Care for Expensive Fabrics

Fabrics made from natural fibers are delicate and are often more expensive. So caring for them takes time and consideration. Here are two tricks fashion designers use when it comes to fabric care:

  • Washable silks and wools should not be washed with a detergent that weakens protein. These fibers are protein-based so standard detergents will weaken fabrics made from these fibers over time. Use a sulfate-free shampoo instead for regular washings of these fibers.
  • Invest in pressing tools for your finer clothing. A tailor's ham (for curved seams), sleeve pressing roll, sleeve board, and a velvet board (used for pile weaves like velvet and napped fabrics like suede) are a few items that will ensure your finer clothing is properly pressed.

These five fashion secrets will help you understand a little more about fashion. As a designer, it is all about the garment for me. So knowing how best to wear clothing and caring for it are important things consumers should know.

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