Do you know where you should take inspiration from and how? Let’s figure it out together!
inspiration is a state of enthusiasm, of fantastic excitement in which artists create their work, and the very motif that excites and brings life to their imagination, a sudden decision. In the next video about mood boards, I will show you how to translate your inspiration into a visual board. But first, what is it?
In fashion, inspiration is what drives us to create a collection, it is on the basis of an inspiration that the founder or designer of the brand begins his search for shapes, colors and sounds.
Fashion is an applied art so it feeds on all the high arts such as music, painting, sculpture and literature, there is no limit and every idea is good as long as it has an inherent sense of your brand values.
Once you’ve established your brand identity with the value proposition test, re-read your identity clearly, focus on your target and brand mission. Your identity must never change as your collections change.
Inspiration must always be present in your collection and can come from the following factors:
a feeling or state of mind
a historical era
a film / piece of music / artwork
In the case of the place, it can represent a place from your childhood or that has a close relationship with you, such as the city where you studied or the country where you lived for a few years, etc. In case the place of your choice is a place you’ve never been to, you must be informed before expressing concepts, forms and historicity. Often in taking inspiration from a place and therefore from a culture different from one’s own and for which we have no direct experience, one can run into misinterpretation or cultural appropriation, as in the iconic case of the Marc Jacobs Spring 2017 fashion show during New York Fashion Week September 2016 at Hammerstein Ballroom; or in the case of the Cruise 2020 collection inspired by Morocco and Africa by Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior, and again when Victoria’s secret was accused of cultural appropriation in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017.
If you choose this path, the best way to face it is head on and to have a dialogue with the parties involved, for example if you are Western and want to be inspired by Japan, contact Japanese members of associations relevant to your topic, get informed, travel if you can and show your research to your audience. In this way the discussion will not take place at the end of the creative path, but during which you can change it according to the answers you will receive. You may find yourself surprised at the interest that cultures foreign to yours have in being appreciated and disseminated, without falling into appropriation. Be modest and curious, respectful and interested, the place you have chosen can be represented in your own way.
Last tip: beware of religious references that can offend the already ultra-sensitive social audience and your consumer. In the case of religion, I would not express any opinion unless it is extremely tied to you personally.
A feeling can be freedom, freshness, nostalgia, childhood, tenacity, irreverence, perseverance. Consequently, your final consumer to buy the collection will have to be part of this feeling or state of mind.
By vision I mean a “world” and that is the world of car racing, skiing, basketball, yachts, dance parties, birthdays, red carpet, or when your inspiration takes you back to a “world” and use all of this. A clear example of this is the Ralph Lauren brand, which takes inspiration in each of its collections from the far west, countryside, farm lifestyle, cowboy and horse racing; or Tommy Hilfiger who takes inspiration from motorcycle racing in the 2017 Milan fashion show.
For a historical period, I clearly refer to the choice of a well-defined historical period. This choice could also be very useful as it is very easy to collect and research them. An example of culture inspiration is the Valentino autumn-winter 2013 collection, in which the duo Chiuri and Piccioli choose to represent the women in the Flemings paintings. Another example is the Chanel collection inspired by the Byzantine period in the pre-Autumn 2011 collection. The inspirations of both take up a culture that in some ways no longer exists and for this reason cultural appropriation is a more difficult accusation to make. However, one must be careful not to lapse into the “costume” and make the collection look like a parody.
Do you know how to convey all your ideas and keep consistent with your DNA and trends? It can be a little overwhelming and that is the reason why a moodboard can be so useful for you!
When you think of a collection, you think of a series of products that complete a look and that are connected in terms of style, colors and shapes.
Fashion collections don’t have to be hundreds of pieces to be of value.
In fact, the advice I give to those who launch their first collection is to think of 15 garments (maximum 17), which represent the target well and cover all the occasions of use of the target so that they feel free to buy many pieces and mix them together. Obviously the more a customer is able to buy pieces and mix them, the better the economy of the brand.
Where do you start when you think of a collection? We certainly start from the moodboard. This represents a genuine and immediate visual interpretation (i.e. not too well thought out at the time) of what we like, what makes us feel good, what inspires us, what is trendy at the moment and what will represent us in the future.
The moodboard is therefore a series of images (because above all fashion works through images), words and concepts (such as sustainable, freedom, elegance, inclusiveness, strength, love).
So let’s take a look at a moodboard: choose the images, you can download them from sites like Pinterest, Instagram or other social networks or websites. It is important that the moodboard remains private for internal brand use and not displayed publicly unless you have permission to share the photos publicly. (If you want to show it online, you will need to ask for permission out of respect for the author and for image rights).
The words used are ones that give you emotions, such as freedom or fragility, or strength, or a sense of completeness, that you can write on the images, whether you decide to create the moodboard by hand physically or digitally, as I am doing.
You don’t need to have great graphic content production skills, or know how to use programs like InDesign or Photoshop, there are many sites that allow you to create a drawing board and import photos.
Before concluding that your moodboard is finished, there is a “sensorial” part that you should add if you can.
Do you have access to fabrics, materials, buttons, even colors (which can be paper, plastic, ceramic, etc.), which recall your inspiration in any way?
If so, attach them, or photograph them if you have a digital moodboard, but try to insert them.
If the materials very well recall the feeling you want to convey, perfect, you are already off to a great start!
When you are happy with the result, this will be the visual map of your collection. Let’s start from here now, you can place it in front of your eyes, on the desk, hung on the wall or as a background for your desktop for the duration of the creative phase of this collection.
Have you ever heard a story of a brand name born by a personal experience or a memory, a dream or an idea? Let’s see some examples of this category!
Now that you have the moodboard in front of your eyes, it will be appropriate to start jotting down sketches of garments, ideas, embroideries and prints.
This first phase is done at your own pace, do what you feel like doing, without forcing yourself to think about many superstructures that will be needed in the near future: such as trends, socio-cultural changes, practicality, usefulness and concordance among the pieces.
As we learned earlier, a collection makes sense if it is well connected, and there is a link among all the items.
How do we create that bond?
In fashion, there are three sisters who will become your best friends. they never leave each other, they always walk side by side, they are called:
and Trends, we will talk about trends in the next videos.
DNA is your brand book, what you should have done in the first chapter of Maelle. Have you done it? If you haven’t, pause and run the quiz to find out more.
Inspiration. In the previous video we addressed what inspiration is. If despite understanding and feeling close to one of the types of inspiration analyzed, you still feel confused, then the creation of the moodboard will be a life-saver for you.
For example, if you already know that you want to be inspired by your native land. Then in the moodboard you will insert photos of your childhood, the childhood of your family, of the streets of your city, of the important historical moments of your country, maybe you will be inspired by the typical military jackets, etc. In this case, the moodboard is not only a moment to immerse yourself in the sensations of your homeland, but also a search and collection tool of images that you know you will surely use.
But when you know you want to be inspired by your childhood, and you don’t have clearly in mind what, then the moodboard can be the only way out so as not to waste too much time and the artistic vein. Let yourself be carried away by the memories, sensations and emotions that make you remember your homeland.
This goes for any inspirational theme.
Now we have a series of sketches, which have all been made on the spot, born from the mixture of our inspiration. Let’s now look for a connection with our DNA – that is, the brand book.
Place all the sketches in front of you and ask yourselves for each of them:
is it in line with my target?
is it in line with my price point?
is it in line with my archetype?
is it in line with my keywords?
is it in line with my slogan?
does it match my logo?
If you answered yes to all of them, congratulations, you got it right at first.
If, on the other hand, it seems to you that there are inconsistencies between the brand identity and your sketches, you will need to modulate the design and adjust some details until it represents exactly the DNA and the inspiration in its entirety.
The sketching process can take 2 to 4 weeks. It is not a process that you have to force or accelerate, try to concentrate on a few pieces only as I said at the beginning. 15 is a good number.
The method that I have just shown you, that of starting from the moodboard, then drawing some sketches, it’s called the general method. And it is the one that is used most often, because it is more analytical, concrete and more congenial if you work in a team. And it is the method that I recommend you to use because it will save you many steps.
However, it is not the only one, there is in fact a way that is called Particular because it starts from the single detail to develop the general vision of the collection. This is the method I have used for almost 8 years and abandoned when I opened my own brand in 2017.
The Paticular method mainly uses touch, i.e. starting from the material (fabric, button, zip, embroidery, print, etc.) a series of small ideas is generated that complete the whole. I repeat that this may make you feel freer at first, but it does not make you do an orderly job.
Once you are satisfied with your sketches, define them better and give them some more characterization.
Now we can focus on trends.
Trends and inspiration live all together can be a nightmare, but if you follow this method, you can really get the best of this mix!
Let Leda explain to you how and why they should all be your best friends!
We have seen the difference between trends from below and trends from above.
But how to choose which one to follow for your seasonal collection?
This depends a lot on your fashion industry.
Very quickly I will explain to you what the fashion industries are, but if you want to dive deeper in this field, book a consultation with me, because it would be appropriate to talk about it case by case.
In general, there are five fashion industries:
ready-to-wear or pret a porter
pret a couture
If your brand belongs to the first two, you will surely follow the trends from the bottom. If you are in the ready-to-wear, you could combine them both or choose one of them. If you belong to the latter two, you will probably generate the trends yourself, and at the same time you could create some interesting mixes with the socio-cultural trends. The mixes are more evident in the capsule collections, because in order to attract a younger audience and thus “rejuvenate” a historical brand, a very popular commercial brand is mixed with a high fashion one. A key example is Supreme’s collaboration with Comme des Garçons in 2012, or Uniqlo with the brand created by Jil Sander J in 2021
My advice is to choose a socio-cultural trend that represents you, that reflects your philosophy and once again, you can always consult your DNA (i.e. the Brand Book).
Once you have chosen the style trends and socio-cultural trends to follow, you must take all your sketches and analyze them in the light of this new information.
An example could be:
In my DNA I am a fun brand, belonging to the ready-to-wear fashion industry, I believe in women’s rights and it is important that all women of all races and religions are widely represented. At the same time I believe that the unisex style has made women more aware of their strength because they can wear clothes that are branded as mens clothing.
Always keep the consumer in mind, what would this person like to prove to oneself and to the world?
The result of this quick analysis could be: a womenswear brand, ready-to-wear, with an average price of 190-200 euros per garment, which produces typically masculine garments such as the work jacket with reinforced shoulder pads, shoulder straps, flat cap (hat) and so on, with prints that encourage the recognition of female empowerment, perhaps as if they were written on a mural.
Before moving on to simplification and the synthesis process, we must make sure that the collection does not present overlapping, I would like to remind you to analyze the trends from a respectful perspective.
When you have all of the garments in front of you, ask yourself for each garment if because of its inspiration, because of its shape or style, colors or details (which can be prints, embroidery, buttons, etc.) carries one of these actions:
Does it offend anyone?
Does it offend a minority?
Does it offend a religion?
Does it offend a system of values?
Does it clearly exclude a minority?
Does it mock a category of workers?
And at the end of these, if you realize that there are indeed chances that someone could accuse you of:
disrespect towards categories, minorities, ethnic groups, religions or systems of values,
racial or ethnic exclusion
ask yourself another question:
Do I care, can I afford it?
It is certainly that you haven’t acted in bad faith. Many of our choices and inclinations are due to the sum of the beliefs, traditions and values that are handed down and considered correct in our culture.
So, be careful to consider these issues with due tact and respect.
The consequences of your choices can be damaging, such as, lawsuits, loss of credibility, loss of consumers or entire categories of consumers, bad publicity and if you are listed on the stock exchange, loss of value in shares.
Now that this is clear, we can continue with overlapping in the next video.
Overlapping should always be avoided!
There are a few questions that will help you get rid of useless and harmful items in your collection, let’s see which ones with Leda.
What is meant by Overlapping?
In more structured companies, the figure who makes sure that there is no overlapping is the merchandiser. The merchandiser is also responsible for the process of turning the creative team’s vision into the final, tangible product.
The merchandiser verifies that each creation has a specific purpose and that it does not swallow another product. Basically it’s about making sure that no product overpowers another and thus can harm the sale of that product.
In the end it is for purely commercial purposes.
If you do not have a suitable resource for this purpose, I will explain what you should do:
Put all of your designs in front of you and give each one a purpose, a method of use and a price.
If you are not sure how to set a price, you can book a consultation with me and together we will analyze your competitors – this is the only way to establish a justifiable price.
Next to the sketch of a dress, you will write for example: for free time
Next to another dress you will write: for the evening with your partner
Next to a suit jacket and trousers: for work
You realize that you are missing a garment that is to be comfortable at home, and you believe that your target would really want to buy this garment and have it in their closet. It is also very important to consider that comfortable clothes for home have really made a difference in the pandemic period and have changed consumer habits in general.
Then add this garment.
At the same time, you may find that you have two nearly identical jackets or trousers that perform the same function. You have to eliminate one and choose the one that would sell the most.
Perform this simplification analysis whenever it seems to you that there are too many garments that perform the same functions, or if you don’t have any garments for basic uses, such as the evening, free time, and lunch with friends. All these choices must always be addressed with your brand book next to you.
If you realize that you want to deepen the Brand Book created on Maelle and analyze your competitors, book a consultation with me before continuing with the next topics.