Many apparel companies hire both merchandisers and designers as part of their design and development team. Merchandisers often oversee and guide the design team to determine what, when, and how much apparel to produce. At planning meetings, designers use concept boards to present their ideas to the development and management teams. These concept boards are typically collages of color and fabric swatches, fashion sketches, and magazines photos that capture the theme or mood of the design ideas. Previous season’s sales figures, sales forecasts for the new season, and the overall outlook of upcoming seasons will also be discussed in these planning sessions.
Designers begin to materialize their ideas using hand sketches, off-the-rack garments, technical drawings, three-dimensional draping on dress forms, or computer-aided design (CAD). CAD is becoming increasingly popular, partially due to the ease with which images can be redrawn, altered, and modified; and partially attributable to the active marketing efforts of apparel computer system manufacturers such as Gerber Technology, Lectra Systems, Pad Systems, Inc., Snap Fashun and Tukatech, Inc.
After the design team reviews the line, designers transform those final designs destined for actual production into sample garments. If the product is to be made offshore, the final designs are translated into garment specification sheets. A garment specification sheet consists of all the important information required to complete a pattern and prototype of the design. Increasingly, garment specification software programs facilitate this process.
Developmens in Product Design
CAD and CAM are two technologies that have made prominent changes in the way garment manufacturing was done in previous eras. Today all large garment manufacturing companies have developed CAD/CAM system to do the process of garment manufacturing. CAD is an abbreviation for computer-aided design and CAM for computer-aided machine. CAD/CAM is computer software that controls the production of garments. In CAD the designer designs the garments by using any suitable software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw etc and in CAM the cutters, sewers, graders and markers control the process of development.
The designer creates 2-D or 3-D model of design in CAD and CAM as a software numerically controls the machines that generates the production.
There are several advantages of CAD/CAM over manual method of designing and production of garments:
- The expense and time is reduced in a considerable manner when compared to the laborious manual work of designing.
- Designing can be done from anywhere as the designers are able to control the process from remote locations as well.
The data can be easily stored, transmitted, and transported through computer files.
- Digital swatches can be saved on floppy disks, zip disks, CD-ROM or hard drive thus saving space. Moreover they can be easily organized for fast and easy retrieval.
- The designs can be easily customized and personalized as corrections and editing can be done at any time without significant delays or cost increases.
- The designers don’t need to produce swatches all the time as they can now see how a particular fabric or garment looks in different colors and shapes on computer screen itself.