How designers get inspiration
- Designers need to know what consumers will want to buy in the future because this will ensure that the products that they are designing will sell when they have been manufactured.
- They will attend trade fairs or look on fashion forecast websites to collect information about future fashion trends.
- Trend forecasts can be made quite far in advance and designers follow trend forecasts so that they know what other designers are likely to be doing and to make sure their products are up-to-date.
- Modern technology has enabled a much more rapid response by designers to changes in fashion.
- Shop floor sales data and fashion influences from the media, such as what celebrities are wearing, are directly determining product development.
- A designer is usually given a design brief by a client.
- The designer will need to research the theme and find out about relevant existing products.
- They will also need to consider the preferences of the target market and the purpose of the product to be designed.
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Analysis of a product
- Designers research existing products to see how other designers have coloured, shaped and styled their products. They examine which fabrics and components have been used, which decorative techniques have been employed and how the item has been constructed. Size, labelling, price, quality and packaging are also considered.
- Overall product analysis gives you information on: The design and materials used, Manufacturing techniques and Suitability for the target market.
- What guides the designer's thinking is the function that the textile product will need to perform, who it will be used by and how to make it stand out from similar existing products.
- Designers examine how a product may have been assembled. They consider the probable order of putting together the separate pieces to make the item and how special design features may have been added.
- To help understand how a textile product is made, each section of the item is examined closely, or it may be scrutinised and actually taken apart. This is known as disassembly.
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Consumer choice and product design
Product design is affected by:
- Developments in technology - Manufacturing has advanced so that products can be made more quickly and cheaply. This has encouraged consumers to buy clothes that they only wear a few times before throwing away. Wearable electronics are increasingly popular with those consumers who want communication and entertainment devices.
- Fashion trends - Consumers who follow the latest fashion will buy according to the current trend, so designers have to keep up with this. Designers are often inspired to respond to changes in society (e.g. new ideas, technological advances and changes in the political and economic climate).
- Economic factors - In a rich economy, people have more disposable income, which they can spend on luxury and impulse buys. In a poor economy, people have less disposable income (e.g. in wartime or recession) and are more likely to spend their money on essentials, e.g. knickers, socks, work clothes.
- Social factors - What celebrities are wearing can lead to new trends. People are living longer and older people may have different requirements from textile products. Peer presssure can affect consumer choice. Lifestyle or work also affects what people buy.
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Consumer choice and product design
- Cultural factors - Within society some people may be restricted in their choice of textile products by their religious beliefs and customs. Some religions don't believe that women should show bare skin outside the home.
- Ethical trading - Some consumers are concerned about the welfare of people who make the textile products. They want to buy ethically traded products. This means that the people who make the products are not exploited, that they work in safe conditions and are paid fairly. There has been much publicity about the use of child labour in textiles production in developing countries.
- Environmental sustainability - Some consumers are worried about the effect of textiles production on the environment. Many consumers are keen that fabrics and components used in the making of a product should be from a sustainable source. Sustainability means not using up finite resources or causing permanent damage to the environment.
- Ethical designs - Designers have a responsibility to consider the product's ethical/moral design. Ethical design is concerned with the appropriateness of the product for its target market. E.g. children's clothing should not be too **** or have rude slogans on it.
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- A total quality management (TQM) is used to make sure that quality is designed and manufactured into the product.
- To assure quality, at each stage of the design process, ideas are evaluated against the specification and kept focused on the brief.
- It is essential to understand customer preferences and market needs.
- Sampling, modelling and prototyping will check that materials and processes are safe and result in the correct quality.
- A quality assured product will promote the reputation of the designer, manufacturer and retailer and is important to brand image.
- The statutory rights of the customer need to be upheld, and the product should conform to relevant standards to achieve the BSI Kitemark or CE Mark.
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Testing and evaluating design ideas
There are a number of ways to test a design:
- Testing design ideas against the design criteria listed in the design specification.
- Ideas shown to the client or intended users to collect feedback comments.
- Expert opinions sought to test appropriateness of proposed materials, techniques and processes.
- Samples and prototypes test and trialled.
- Comparison of own product design to a similar existing product.
- User trials involve asking a sample of your target market to try out your prototype.
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