Fashion is a term commonly used in relation to clothes, dresses, garments, textiles, etc. There may be styles in a large number of other things, e.g., furniture, automobiles, etc. In this Chapter I have dealt with fashion as related to garments and accessories.
In the last fifteen years fashion designing has gained spectacular prominence. There is increase in quality textiles materials for the fashion designers to work with. This trend of fashion consciousness is bound to grow and stay.
Fashion is identified today with status, acceptance and it almost implies social involvement. India enjoys a prominent place in the international market with its rich silks, traditional handloom fabrics, rustic textures and vibrant dyes. The creation of a world market for Indian garments is largely the contribution of Indian fashion designers. The trends of growth are set for fashion entrepreneurs.
NATURE OF WORK
There are three main areas of fashion design and manufacture. These are designing for mass production (wholesale), fashion trends and large scale manufacture of designer ware. By far the largest area is wholesale manufacture, where firms mass-produce garments following fashion trends set in by fashion forecasters. High fashion designs when simplified and adapted for the common public are suitable for production in large numbers at low cost. Fashion trend setters are celebrated firms and fashion houses which produce exclusively designed garments collections. Fashion shows of collections are held for marketing these designs. Designers, in the wholesale manufacturing sector, generally specialize in producing certain types of clothes in a wide range of styles and fabrics, e.g., jeans, jackets, children wear, men's wear, etc. Some designers specialize in leisurewear, women's wear; accessories, shoes, knitwear, sportswear. Some others specialize in designing of costumes for stage artists, TV or film. This work can involve historical research as well as design.
Stages in the Designing of a Garment
Research - Creation is of a design involves identifying what customers need and which designs will sell. Even in the special designers section, designers producing expensive original work keep in mind factors such as social customs, international fashion trends and fabrics available. In the wholesale sector, manufacturing designers select and modify designs which are going to sell. They get 'ideas, by reviewing periodicals and attending fashion shows, etc. They also take into account competitors' products and sales information. Trends are anticipated as designs are produced a year in advance of garments reaching the market. New designs are required for two or more seasons each year.
Designs - Designers use their creativity to produce ideas to suit the market's needs. Sketches are used to outline basic ideas when fabrics are selected. The appearance, quality and texture of fabrics are taken into account. During manufacturing, the designer liaises with production staff and the buyer to ensure that mass production is feasible and cost effective.
Patterns - Designers make formal drawings indicating the position of seams, folds, darts, etc., but in many cases patterns are translated from the rough sketches by draftsmen.
Samples - Designers garments are made up for the show or private clients. In wholesale manufacture, samples are made up before mass production begins and the designer makes any necessary adjustments. Changes may be required to suit production/budgetary requirements.
Presentation - Designers are required to present their design work to clients. Effective presentation is essential for designers. They do so through fashion shows, selling to individuals or retail buyers. Designers market their work and give advice to clients about adaptations- types of fabric which can be used, different dimensions, production problems etc. This is a major aspect of the work for many designers.
Fashion designers should be artistic and creative. They should be able to express their ideas in sketches. They may not be brilliant artists but must be able to combine colors, shades and tones. Designers have a flair for creating with fabric and know how to use textiles effectively. Designers need visual imaginary and the ability to think in three-dimensions to translate into garments what they visualize. They must be fashion conscious and must be aware of market's requirements. An understanding of the market and customer lifestyle is required, so that designs are suitable for people they are made for. Designers must be good communicators. The work involved with selling, and persuading and influencing are required.
Self-employed/freelance designers need business acumen. Top designers must be highly original and inventive. Sketching is not possible at shows, therefore designers must be observant and must have a good memory.
Manufacturing units work on a large scale. They employ designers, cutting assistants, sketching assistants, junior designers. Cutting assistants have to cut samples as per specifications of the designer. This is followed by draping and garment construction. Sketching assistants make the technical sketches of the garments which are passed on to cutting assistants. From the making of specification drawings which decide how a garment has to be fabricated to the selection of fabrics is often the duty of the sketching assistant.
Junior designers generally do the first pattern cutting. They assemble the first samples with fabrics they have selected from the market.
Marketing and merchandising
Fashion trends are constantly changing the people in merchandising and marketing have a good knowledge of fashion trends, of sales data and the organizations marketing objectives. Based on this information the marketing department plans the company's overall direction. It determines the price product requirement, and hence they often work with the styling department when a new product in conceived.
The production manager is at the head of the manufacturing unit. He is responsible for scheduling work goals, training of workers, managing all activities in order to maintain quality in production. The production manager oversees the work of pattern cutting from pattern grading, spreading and marketing to cutting, assembling and finishing. With the production manager are production assistants who supervise the work at each stage.
The production pattern maker makes the first 'master pattern' of the garment on tough paper. This master pattern is made in close coordination with the fashion designing department. The master pattern is made into a number of sizes. Each piece of the garment is represented by a piece of the' pattern. The fabric is spread out and patterns are cut. The pieces are assembled for the machine operator and finally finished by handwork.
This is the process where a number of people are employed in large manufacturing industries while in smaller units the same persons may be, doing a number of tasks.
Fashion coordinators coordinate with the buyer and the production manager. The fashion coordinator makes sure production schedules are kept, meets buyers goes through specifications for fabrics, colors, designs and keeps an eye on the quality.
When buyers give their own designs, the coordinator helps decide the fabric colors and accessories that should be used to suit the designs. They explain the design to the production pattern makers and ample pieces made. The sample is draped on a dummy to see if some changes in details or style are required. Once the sample is finalized, its pieces are measured precisely. It is the coordinator who suggests how the cloth should be cut so as to minimize wastage. The garment is then and finally presented or sale.
Fashion designing courses are generally offered to students after +2. The course imparts training in all the aspects-of garment manufacture. However, the quality of training varies from institute to institute. There are very prestigious and competitive courses in fashion technology offered by National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi which has gained tremendous applause for training perhaps some very prominent fashion designers. Sophia Polytechnic in Bombay too is a well known training school. Fashion designers, however, are being trained by some newer institutes also. In the courses section the reader will mind a complete description of the courses at NIFT- New Delhi, Sophia - Bombay and the addresses of some polytechnics in Delhi. Students in other parts of the country are advised to visit local polytechnics and vocational training institutes for courses in fashion design.
Accessory Design This three year diploma program introduces students to basic design concepts, visualization techniques, manipulation of materials and techniques of interpretation, leading to the creation of costume jewelry and accessories in various materials and traditional Indian craft styles. Students are taught portfolio and presentation techniques, given marketing inputs and trained in design management.
This program offers careers as Design Coordinators, Managers and prepares them for entry into the emerging market of accessory export from India.
The curriculum for this three years diploma program covers the development of the garment from source of inspiration to the finished product. Technical aspects like fashion art, pattern making, garment construction, grading and draping are taught and practiced. Subjects like History of Costumes and Textiles, Apparel Fabric Studies, Textile Science round off the education program.
Students are taught presentation techniques, organization of shows and preparation of Art portfolio to link aspects of creative marketing in the curriculum. Individual creativity is articulated into design collections and projects.
This program offers students the opportunity to take up positions as Fashion Coordinators, Stylists, pattern makers and Designers.
Apparel Marketing and Merchandising
This course is a specialized two year post graduate diploma program which covers practical aspects of the fashion industry, with a focus on marketing & merchandising. Students undergo rigorous training in buying, merchandising, retail operations, fashion coordination, advertising, forecasting, international marketing, trade documentation and project formulation.
They are exposed to creative merchandising/marketing following domestic and international marketing practices, forecasting & other factors. Training is also imparted in computer applications in business and the students are also given production oriented inputs to develop competitive professionals.
This program prepares students for careers in middle management level in functional areas of international marketing, retail & inventory management. The course is supported all through the program by industry projects and presentations.
Garment Manufacturing Technology
This two year postgraduate level diploma program covers aspects of optimal resource utilization and timely delivery of quality merchandise to customers. The syllabus is practical, based on classroom and laboratory simulation of current factory and business trends. It includes subjects such as business administration, industry and engineering concepts and techniques of production patternmaking, strategic planning and an in-depth knowledge of seams, stitches and machine types. Time and motion studies are applied to critical activities like spreading, marking and cutting, ensuring high standards of quality control and garment specification.
This program prepares students for careers in middle management levels in garment manufacturing firms. The graduates are employed as Production Managers. While trained in assembly-line simulations, they are also capable of handling job-work with tailor based units. Graduates with engineering background are more suited for this course.
Leather Garment Design and Technology
The course has inputs on Production System and Garment engineering skills, leather garments manufacturing processes, design forecast and awareness and skills, patternmaking techniques and concepts, garment specifications and international size charts, selection of trimmings etc.
This is a modular program, which allows the students to specialize either as Designers/Stylists or Managers in a Leather company. It is a two year professional program at the Post
Graduate level. The program offers graduates career as Production
Managers with a firm grasp of the principles of design and pattern making/cutting or Designers/Stylists with a thorough knowledge of pattern making and cutting on production methods.
Knitwear Design and Technology
This two year diploma program provides students with the opportunity to study and practice the inter-related aspects of Knitwear and Knitted product design, along with the required aspects of technology. The course aims to prepare students who understand the important combination of creativity with a sound knowledge of materials and processes.
Technical aspects like fashion art, pattern making, garment construction and grading are included. The training will develop skills in the student to produce a range of knitted products which demonstrate research, analysis, costing, technology application and design to a professional standard. Industry internship will provide students with awareness and experience of the related aspects of the business and industry.
The program will enable students to enter the knitted products industry as fully functioning designers who are business/technology aware.
Textile Design and Development
The Textile Design and Development has inputs which has both design and technology. The course is designed to explain the concepts of textile design from the stage of the original fiber till the final product.
The course is a two year master’s course after graduation and includes inputs of textile, sketching, printing, weaving and computer application to cover woven, print and embroidery designs. In the final year, the students will be mostly doing practical design projects with clients.
The program offers the opportunities to graduates to take up careers as Textile Design Technologists, in Print Houses, handloom industry, Mills Sector and the Garment Export Houses.