If you've been following the blog, you may have seen my post last week on tips for successfully briefing your designer. This week's post covers the next stage, how to effectivly review their work and give feedback.
Most designers will allow you several rounds of revisions in the price, so it's important to review work effectively to save time and prevent lots of emails backwards and forwards. Most designers will start charging you for changes eventually, some even from the very first round of revisions, which makes it even more crucial to provide as much information as you can to avoid any additional costs.
Does the range work for your customer + brand?
Before writing your feedback and looking at the deigns in detail, I'd definitely suggest looking at the range as a whole and ask yourself if the overall look and feel work for your customer and brand. Refer back to your target customer and ask yourself;
- Is there a good mix of styles and price points that allow customers to afford to buy something and also save and aspire to own a special piece.
- Does it meet their needs? For example, if they're looking for workwear is the range office appropriate? If they want to 'wow' at an event, are there some really unique, special pieces? If they're working out, does the range mix style with performance and comfort?
- Is there a good mix of colours. Some designers seem to avoid using black, for a fear of being boring, but black has outsold every other colour, by a long way, in every company I've ever worked with/for
Think about your brand values and ask;
- Does the range fit in with your branding and ethos?
- Will it work well together in a photoshoot, to show on social media?
- Will this look nice in your shop/online store/will your buyers like it?
Are the garments functional?
Again, this part of the thought process involves thinking about your target customer and their needs, but also from a sales perspective. When looking at each design individually, you need to be thinking about the ultimate aim - selling the clothes. You need to make sure that whatever methods you use to sell, you'll have something to talk about, this could be to the press, on social media, on product descriptions and to customers themselves in stores. Of course, the designer will be working hard to give you the best possible designs, but I'd always recommend thoroughly reviewing work that is sent to you, as at the end of the day the designer has a small piece of the puzzle, whereas you have the whole story regarding your sales tactics and future plans. In literal terms, the designer should have covered things such as practical fastenings/openings/design features, but it doesn't hurt for you to take a look.
Do you like the designs?
You're going to be living and breathing these designs, so it's important that you like them. They may not be your style, if you're not the target customer, but if there's something that bothers you, speak up. It may be something simple, like changing a neckline, or the length of something and the designer will be more than happy to oblige.
How to approach feedback
There's no need to worry or feel bad about telling the designer you want changes. Everyone has their own opinion and it won't be taken offensively. I would definitely encourage you to give as much detail as possible. For example a vague response like 'colour bits in blue' is really unhelpful and poses a lot of questions; which bits? which designs, all of them? what type of blue, sky, navy, pastel, cobalt? If you have a specific look in mind, you need to go into detail about specifically you mean. Likewise, if you send a photo for reference, explain what it is you like about the photo. For example, it might be the colour, silhouette, fabric, neckline, fit, details, sleeves.....Do you see what I'm saying? Just because something is obvious in your head, doesn't mean it's obvious to the designer. Also be careful with phrases that portray an emotion or opinion, for example saying things like 'make it more fun, stylish, cool'. Cool like easy going? Cool like on trend? Cool like appropriate for hot weather? Think about the words you're using and what it could mean to others.
How to send the feedback
When I review work, I like to go through step by step. I'll give general comments that apply to the whole body of work and also go through each design and request any changes, clearly and specifically. Bullet points can be great for this. Yes, this will take longer initially to write detailed comments, but it saves you time (and often money) in the long run as you don't have as many emails backwards and forwards and you reduce the amount of revisions.
I hope this post has given you some tips on how to work with your designer and also an idea of what to consider when reviewing designs. I've put together a checklist of things to check when you receive designs - it makes it easy to go through step by step and identify any issues/things that need to be updated. This free download is available in the library now. Not already a member? Sign up to the mailing list below for free access to my worksheets, glossary and checklists.
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