As you think about the overall size and breadth of your fashion collection, you should identify the number of items required to fulfil your vision, but cross-reference that with a reasonable assessment of what can fit in a store, on a website or into a retail account’s buy.
There are three fundamental elements to planning a balanced collection and it’s essential to keep these in mind, over the long-term development of your product assortment, as well as in each and every collection you produce. We often think about these as a collection pyramid.
The Base: Every successful fashion company rests upon the success of one or two items which form the foundation of the overall product assortment and a more predictable stream of revenue around which a real business can be built. These products don’t change dramatically from season to season and they become the staples of your product offering. Tory Burch has her Reva ballerina flats, Louis Vuitton has its leather goods and Acne has its denim. Without this kind of solid foundation, it’s difficult to build a successful business.
The Middle: In the middle are the products that you adapt and refresh each season with new colours, fabrics or prints, but the basic silhouettes remain the same. Over time, you may choose to slowly adapt these products and perfect them, but in general, you are using tried and tested shapes which have already been proven in the market.
The Top: At the top of your collection is the purely seasonal elements which are more about driving interest and bringing new energy to your product mix. This may be the pieces you show on the runway and which are featured in the editorial. From time to time, you may have a huge commercial hit at the top part of your collection, but as it’s generally hard to predict exactly what will strike a chord (or which product your favourite A-list celebrity decides to wear), it can sometimes be hard for a small fashion business to capitalise on the short-term buzz generated by these types of products.
Use a stylist – smartly!
Many designers choose to employ the services of a stylist. These can be hired professionals, in-house team members or even a friend or colleague with a good eye. The most important outcome here is that you receive a second opinion on how the collection sits together best and how to present it to buyers or customers. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step, as it can greatly impact your eventual sales.
Make sure that you are designing and developing a product that can reasonably be produced. While that may sound like an obvious point, many talented designers create beautiful concepts that prove to be too expensive or complicated to produce at scale.