Designers - the role of designers in the clothing retail buying team:
Designers have a deep insight into the market they are targeting through the analysis of the changing trends and use these to provide creative direction and develop product designs for the buying teams to consider.
Usually these participants tend to think out of the box and their creative minds can challenge some of the comfort zones of other team members. What must be kept top of mind is that they need to consistently apply the intellect way ahead of time of what they think the customer requires as opposed to their personal desires.
Typically the character traits that they will possess are that they are independent, spontaneous, extroverts, driven by ideas and confident.
Although the general perception of the word “designer” conjures up a vision of those who work at couture level, the reality is that it also includes those who are involved in creating ranges which may also be exclusive but will be more widely available and therefore be considered as having been mass produced. Their choices will be influenced by the type of retailer they work for or the product category they design for. The more traditional retailer serving more mature customers will be less influenced by radical fashion swings which in contrast will definitely affect the teen market high fashion boutiques more severely.
Work is done at times under immense pressure to meet critical deadlines, tough meeting schedules and frequent international travel. It is not surprising the perception is often that they live a life of glory and glamour but contrary to this belief it is not as glitzy as it is made out to be.
The fashion and trade shows whether they be yarn, fabric or garment shows are tiring affairs requiring hard work and stamina as is the shopping for appropriate samples, researching fashion magazines, the use of forecasting trend agencies, internet and blogs and out of this to possess the ability to then distill the emerging trends to create a storybook that will best suit their organisation’s customer profiles. The designer lives with the stress of knowing that their level of success will be measured by the eventual amount of money rung up on the till and getting the styling direction wrong or overextending the life of a particular look could have serious financial implications especially in the cases where volumes are high.
The real challenge is to convince the buying teams and senior management to buy into their vision and have the confidence that what they have in mind will be commercially acceptable to the customer. The designer cannot ignore the technical aspects of the garment production as many problems can be avoided if these are taken into consideration in the design process.
Retailers in the southern hemisphere do have the advantage that their seasons follow those of countries in the northern hemisphere which allows them to tap into the more successful designs trading in volume. However, with globalization this is not always as clear cut as it was in the past and the ability to follow as close to the season as possible requires techniques that enables the shortening of lead times and get the product to market as quickly as possible. Globalization and the advent of communications technologies such as satellite television, internet and social media have given exposure to different cultures, sports, films, lifestyles and trends such as specific events, health drives, environmental awareness and technology can have very significant impacts on trends which sometimes happen at very short notice.
A very important aspect that the designer must strictly adhere to is that of copyright where instances have occurred that other competitors garments are copied almost identically whether it be by style, print or design. Invariably the driving reason for this is the speed of being able to turn on a replica at a cheaper price. Although it may not be practical to register and copyright every design any infringement can still be challenged and a consequence could exist of having the offending garments being removed from display and destroyed.