How FASHIONARY Start: from sketches to online store
Jul 18, 2009
Having a sketchbook that is tailor made for fashion designers has been always my dream, animators can use story board templates to draw, graphic designers can use dotted paper to have a grid system. And we should have our own sketchbook to streamline the development. And I decide to make it on my own, but it happened not as easy as I thought…
The process includes 10 main steps:
- Brainstorming Ideas of the Sketchbook
- Developing the Templates
- Gathering Feedback
- Research for Information
- The Outlook
- Making a Perfect Name
- Online Store
1. Brainstorming Ideas for the Sketchbook
I love my moleskine, I love the short information they printed on the book. Also after studying some Japanese schedule book which they include some useful information like the Metro map, bus timetable, I am convinced that a fashion sketchbook should include handy information, to go with the templates (which I spend many hours to test — cover in the next part).
In order to search for most suitable fashion information to put in the book, I started to ask for my fashion designer friends for generating idea, we found that the body measurement and the unit system is a must, also the basic patterns and the categories of garments. And all agree that the typography and the presentation board border us, so I start to do research in those area.
2. Developing the Templates
I started to develop the template in the next step. The problem for the traditional template is that we can’t draw directly on it. We need to place a semi-transparent paper on top of it for sketching different post, and it is not convenient enough to bring along and draw everywhere.
So I decide to solve this problem by combining the templates with blank papers, to make the template barely visible, so the designers would not be bordered by the template and they can draw and write notes as free as they want on the template pages.
After different trial on poses, I decide to settle on 1 pose only, for easier sketching. And I send to about 50 people to sketch and the result is positive.
3. Gathering Feedback
I start collecting feedback in early stage, right after the template stage. And according to the book: Blink and BUY-OLOGY, you don’t need to have a lot of feedback, but you need to have the expert’s feedback. In this case, the experts should be the fashion designers who will bring along the sketchbook. I made a pdf which contain the idea and some of the layout of the book and send over to some of the designers around the world to look for comments. After collecting it, I start to work on the information part.
And I then setup a website (cover in the later part) which talk about the details of the books and have a polling(polldaddy) and survey(surveygizmo) system. I posted my site in Notcot.org, which is a very good design/lifestyle site, to generate some visitors and hopefully to receive some feedback. And the result is positive and it make me feel that this sketchbook can really make the life more easier for fashion designers.
4. Research for Information
Wring the information is not an easy task, to interpret the information and re-write them on the book. I read over 20 books for reference of the basic pattern and measurement. And to create some unique content. for example, the typography section, I need to find out which type face is most used in printed book especially fashion magazine, it turn out to be Didot. And I look for trend books and magazines for different style of fashion presentation boards. One of the hardest part is I searched for all the brand name in the catwalk show and sort them out into different category and location.
And later on, after the information were all written, I need to go through 7 times of proof-readying, and every time some mistakes still could be spotted. And it take nearly 1.5 month to finish all the checking.
5. The Outlook
Thread-bounded and hardcover sketchbooks are must to me, it is more easy to carry around, more durable and convenient place on the scanner in case I need to scan my sketches to the computer. And I want to keep all the things as minimal as possible, with distinctive yet subtle color combination.
Originally the cover was blue, Burberry blue, but after searching for the material, and for easy mix and matching, I chose graphite (dark grey) which a lighter grey eleastic band for hightlight.
Color Scheme for FASHIONARY:
6. Making a Perfect Name
FASHIONARY means Fashion + Dictionary + Diary.
To make a good name, there are some rules:
- Easy to remember
- Easy to say in person
- Easy to understand over the radio or phone
- Easy to spell
- Easy to type
- Easy to read in print and online ads
And marketing guru Seth Godin have some amazing topics about nameing:
Internet is the best way to spread your idea and information. And building a website nowadays is not a giant project (some still is). I choose to register a domain for FASHIONARY first, then find a hosting(I choose Doreo). A good website should include these things.
- Concept: The site connected to your barnd and target audience
- Content: all the information(words, products, picutres, audio, interactive features)
- Navigation: The way users move through a stie, like menus, links
- Decoration: supporting design element
- Marketing efficacy: method such as signup forms or buying link
I suggest reading some of the articles like this on Smashing Magazine before starting a website for business or hire a professional to do so.
It takes time and luck to find a good printer, and it is event harder for me to find a good printer that print small quantity. Many good printer out there they take orders like 10000 copies and so. And for people to print the book in China, you need to put full attention and catch up with them all the time, because they will really mess things up! So I choose to print in Hong Kong, And for those who is not familiar with printing, this is the steps to get the book printed:
- Contact the printer, talk about the specs of the book, like dimension, binding, material, color(CMYK or Spot Color) and ask him to give you some samples
- The printer will send you some samples and maybe meet up with you and start quoting the price for you, remember to pay attention to where he print
- Once you accept the quote, you can ask the printer to make a prototype or anything similar to make sure they can produce the quality you are looking for
- There are many back and forth in the prototype stage and dun be afraid to have changes for the book
- Once the prototype is confirmed, you start to send them the AI or PDF file for print, usually they will print your content out to let you proof read it
- Once everything is confirmed, you need to pay for a deposit for printing, usually 50%, but I think it can be bargain
- An efficient printer can deliver the final product in 2 – 3 wks, but it depends on their workload
- Work on something else and wait for you baby born
I pick orange envelopes from a local nearby stationary store to match the orange color of the FASHIONARY. Thanks to my girlfriend, Vikki, to hand-painted a FASHIONARY logo on the back of the envelope. And the weight of the overall package is 400 g.
10. Online Store
Just in case if you don’t have idea about Etsy, it is a website which provides the general public with a way to buy and sell handmade items as well as vintage items and craft supplies. To make it simple, it is an ebay store for designers. And I prefer Etsy over ebay as Etsy has a better interface, and not as spammy as ebay. And it is more focus on handmade items such art, photography, clothing, jewelry, edibles, bath & beauty products, and toys.
The transaction method is simple, 1) Money or 2) Check order, and 3) Paypal, and all the transaction and payment notification is very user friendly, and I really highly recommend to designers who want to setup online store.
The listing fee in Etsy is US$0.2, much lower than ebay.
The main goal of FASHIONARY is to make the life more easy for fashion designer, and it will continue to improve according to feedback. Although the job is hard, still sweet!