The thing about design is that it is subjective. Like art, there isn’t a defined standard in most cases for what a design needs to be in order to be considered good or even finished. It can be tempting to endlessly revise. So, how do you know which designs to produce and when the development process is complete? Today’s post is all about how to know when you’ve perfected the design and fit of your garment. (Hint: it has almost nothing to do with the garment itself.)
I, of course, have many opinions on fit and what makes a good fit, but in the end it is not about what I think or even about what you think. It is about what your customer – the person who will be wearing your design – thinks. Each design needs to have a goal and solve a problem or fulfill a desire of that customer. Being clear about what the design is supposed to do will give you a goal by which to measure your design.
The goal should be specific. It can be a goal from a merchandising perspective about a product category you are wanting to fill. It can be specific about the intended use of the garment and where and how the customer will wear the piece. It can be to solve a specific problem or fill a market gap. It should also be specific about how you want the customer to feel wearing it.
Clothes can serve many purposes. Clothes can be protection, expression, comfort, function, support, celebration, and more. When the function, form, and fit are just right to meet the needs of the customer in any or all of these ways, it is emotional too. How our clothes make us feel on the inside shows outwardly.
You can tell if your fit model or customer feels good in what she’s wearing by her expression. The confidence is written all over her face when she tries on something that really fits and makes her feel amazing! Don’t believe me? Go shopping with your best friend and try to guess which outfits she likes best solely based on which ones she’s smiling the most in. I guarantee you’ll be able to tell. (This works especially well if you happen to be with her for wedding dress shopping.)
The deeper goal of making clothing that fits is to make your customers feel confident, seen, and supported in whatever their life looks like. When you’ve accomplished that, you’ll see it on her face. Whenever I am fitting a garment, I always pay attention to the expression of the fit model. It is one of my favorite parts of my job to see women try something on that fits them and see their faces light up. They look in the mirror and smile. They don’t want to take the pieces off. On occasion, they’ve even danced! You can tell they feel confident. That’s how I know the design and fit are ready. (There are other things on the technical side that still might need to be done, but this is how I know the look and fit of the garment are good.)
Next time you’re in a fitting, or seeing your customers try on your pieces at a pop-up, or scrolling past photos of your customer wearing your design, look at her face. Her expression can tell you so much about if your design and the fit are just right or if there is more work to be done.