Each year I create only ONE collection, and occasionally add a few sneaky items in between. The whole process basically takes me a whole year.
1. Choose colors.
2. Design the new prints. Here is the beginning of the new Turtle print.
3. Figure out which prints are going on what fabrics. Mostly pure cottons of course, but sometimes if the style needs more drape and less of the stiffness of cotton, I might have to put the print onto a viscose.
4. Send the new fabric designs off to the factory for development.
5. Design new trims eg. hang tags, labels, care labels, packaging.
5. Strike-off's and swatches are sent back to me for confirmation. Sometimes they are GORGEOUS and I am swooning over the fabrics.... sometimes I get it horribly WRONG.
6. In the meantime, I am working out the styling, which fabric is going to be made in which style. Will it be a dress, will it be a tunic etc....
7. I create worksheets and size specs for the factory to work from. I let them know which style something new is to be "based on" eg. use this tunic, but change it to a short sleeve or a V-neck. For a completely NEW style it can be difficult to explain the fit to people on a different continent, for whom English is not their first language.
8. Sometimes I create my own pattern, quickly cut and sew my own sample to make sure it fits before I send it off. Then I need to courier the pattern and sample over to the factory. All of this takes TIME.
9. The factory takes at least a month to create the new fabrics, and 2 weeks for sample. Then we can add another week for couriering samples.
10. When the first lot of samples arrive, they are usually "fit samples" in ugly "off the shelf fabrics", just to make sure they fit good. I measure everything, try it all on. Fine tune the fits, and the fabrics. I am pretty fussy. I like perfection.... and I often see things that even you guys wouldn't pick up on.
11. The next lot of samples takes another month, but sometimes we are close to perfection at this stage. Sometimes it is totally wrong, and the sampling takes some more backwards and forwardsing.
12. Finally I am packing my bag in July and heading to Florida for Miami Swim Show. At this stage, I had started working on the new collection 7-8 months back. Here is a cute photo of Lauren on the buggy with the new collection at Miami Swim Show back in July. There is that new Turtle print on the bag hanging over Lauren's head!
13. We set up for the show, and the buyers come around and see the line. It is very important for me to be at this show. This is where I get my feedback. I listen carefully to their comments, and watch closely for reactions each time I show a new garment. Here I am up the ladder while our sales rep Ann Jones is passing me some pieces of tape.... setting up the booth at the show.
14. On the way home from Miami Swim Show, I am cancelling the styles that no one liked, and changing the colors of some items. Tailoring the collection to the buyer feedback. This year I even cancelled a cardi and turned that fabric into a dress.
15. Once back home in Australia I place the bulk orders with the factories. Its a gamble.... as I am placing orders for a years worth of merchandise, based on a few orders at one show.
16. Then we sit back and wait. Here is the new Bird of Paradise print bulk fabric being checked for flaws in awesome family run factory in India.
17. After the bulk fabric is approved, they go ahead and lay it up so that they are cutting 150 tunics at a time, with a big electric cutter. Here they are cutting the Bird of Paradise Tunic. Notice how the man is wearing a protective steel mesh glove so that he can't cut himself. Its a similar sort of glove to those worn by divers who feed sharks!
So this is the stage we are currently at for the 2019 collection. Production is now almost complete, and things will soon be shipping.
For me the culmination of the years work, is doing the photoshoot, seeing the samples on the models and the amazing magic the photographer creates. Here is a photo of the photographer Alicia and gorgeous Piara on the beach at sunrise, about to start the day. Poor Piara, her dad told me she isn't a morning person, but there she was on the beach at 5.30am looking gorgeous !
We started shooting the new collection last week, and I took this little video with snippets from the shoot. Click here to watch.