How To Present Clear Ideas
Part of being a successful fashion designer is the ability to clearly present your ideas. As a creative, it can sometimes be difficult to express your concepts in a visual way. You might have an amazing idea, but it’s all in your head. And you have to figure out how you can express your vision in such a way that your others will get behind your ideas. Here, we are going to explore how to make impactful design presentations.
If you are working in the fashion industry in any area of design, you know that as part of the design process you have lots of design meetings throughout the season. During these design meetings, you will need to present your ideas and concepts to various people in the organization. You might be presenting to the Creative Director of the brand you work for. You might be presenting to the merchandiser or sales team. That means you, the designer, needs to learn how to “sell” yourself and your ideas. In this article, I am going to teach you how to get your ideas out of your head and onto a presentation board in a way that will wow your audience.
We couldn’t cover every possible angle for how to take your fashion career to the next level in just one post! This article is part of an 8 part Fashionable Promotion Series. If you want to learn how to work faster and smarter than your peers then check out the other articles that are part of this series at the bottom of the page. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook group called PickGlass Fashionable Careers. See you there!
Why Designers Need To Learn How To Sell
Who knew that being a designer meant being a salesperson? And who knew that being a designer meant public speaking? If you are getting nervous and want to run and hind don’t worry! I’ve got your back. I am here to teach you how to make the best fashion design presentations that speak for themselves. When you are well prepared for a design meeting you are more relaxed and more confident about your ideas.
Fashion designers have to learn how to present to their audience. Your audience could be your boss (the Design Director), the merchandiser or buyer, or the sales team. Once you know who your audience is, you can prepare your presentation to meet their needs. If for example, you are presenting to your sales team, you can better understand what point of view they are coming from and therefore, anticipate their concerns or questions.
Understanding The Design Process
First, let’s talk about the design process and at what stage you may be at. There are four main time periods in which design is typically presenting their concepts to others.
- Fabric and concept development
- Color & Concept / Kick off for the season
- Design meetings
- Final review
Depending on the size of the company or brand you are working for, you will be meeting with different people for these different times in the design process. Let’s look at what happens at these different phases of the design process.
Fabric & Concept Development Meetings
Before the season begins designers and their teams are hard at work researching the latest trends for their customers. The first person you are going to have to sell your ideas to is your boss. Depending on your level of design this could be the Head Designer, Design Director, VP of Design, etc.
This is usually not a formal meeting. Often times these meetings are done practically as drive-byes when your boss is passing through and wants to see what everyone is working on. The team is pulling ideas from tear sheets and trend forecasting companies and just starting to formulate their ideas. This makes it challenging to have a well thought out idea ready and waiting.
However, this initial presentation to your boss could make or break whether your idea makes it to the next stage. So, get it together! Don’t just throw up pretty pictures on a board. Every designer has a calendar that they have to adhere to. This “design calendar” spells out all the major dates that the team needs to meet in order to get the product to market on time. That includes dates for your fabric development and design meetings. If you know the initial dates that you need to be ready, then you can start to plan way in advance and no be thrown off guard.
As you start to pull your colors and trend images together make little files and try to edit yourself before you put them up on the board. Try to anticipate what questions your boss might have.
Color & Concept Meetings
Your very first design meeting is usually to show the big ideas to merchandisers or sales. Designers talk about the mood or the inspiration behind their upcoming collections. Nothing is set in stone. However, this first impression is huge. It is your first opportunity to sell your concept and get people excited about what’s to come.
What you need to get across is the big picture or big ideas. Your presentation needs to visually look appealing and give the overall mood of your collection. Show color, inspiration, and concepts. This first meeting needs to have your big WOW-factor. That means you need to just blow them over with your presentation so they will be excited. Think about new ways to visually present your idea. A video, PowerPoint, wall displays, mannequins, etc. I get a lot of ideas from window displays.
There are usually several different design meetings throughout the season as the design teams finalize the individual pieces. No one expects the entire collection to be finished for the first design meeting. Concentrate on your big items first. (Read Build Your Core) These items are your big value driver and this is what your sales team will be most interested in seeing first.
The most important thing to remember is that during each design meeting try to present finished ideas as much as possible. For example, each design board needs to have a color palette, fabric swatch, and tear sheets for ideas if you haven’t gotten around to CADing your patterns. Lay out your design board in the most appealing way and make each board layout the same. This gives an overall look of consistency and helps bring it all together.
This is usually the very last design meeting before anyone puts pen to paper. For this meeting, you need to be in hardcore edit mode. That means every single design board is perfect. There is not anything still in question. You have fabric qualities approved, colors are dipped, strike-offs or handlooms are ordered, trims are selected, and any marketing concepts are in work.
When you present this time to your audience, it needs to be in a format that makes it a no-brainer for them to say “Yes!” Figure out what format works best for your audience. Do they need to see your ideas laid out in the way they would be on a table or hanging fixture? Maybe they need to see it CADed up in mini bodies. Or perhaps they need to see how all the pieces coordinate together?
The big takeaway from this article is that you need to understand who your audience is and what their needs and concerns are. Once you can answer those questions everything else will be easy! Second, make sure you adhere to your design calendar dates. This is your bible! If you follow your calendar, you will always be prepared for your meetings and be in control.
Yes, there will be changes. Absolutely, there will be changes. And sometimes there will be too many chefs in the kitchen. But when you are always prepared and always present your ideas in a clear, understandable way that answers the needs of your business you will always be shown in a bright light.
- Follow your design calendar!
- Layout your boards consistently.
- Anticipate your audience’s concerns.
- Make it a no-brainer for your audience to say YES!
Fashionable Promotion Series
If you, or someone you know, is interested in taking your fashion career to the next level then please read the entire series. Learn how to make the right moves to jump to the next level.
- Create Your Fashion Playbook
- Build Your Core Products to Build Your Brand
- How Fashion Industry Pros Shop Their Competition
- Adobe Bridge – How To Get The Most Out Of Your Inspiration Shopping Trips
- 7 Ways To Impress Your Boss
- How to Take Criticism And Become A Better Designer
- Impactful Fashion Design Presentations
- How To Build A Personal Image In The Fashion Industry