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Style requirements

Taking a closer look at style requirements as a component of the design brief.

The design brief may also provide guidance to designers regarding any style requirements or limitations.

A fashion line typically does not consist of only new styles; therefore, the design brief will provide targets as to the ratio among new styles, carryovers, and modifications of styles. These targets are determined by objectives of the line, targeted price zone, and merchandising data, such as the sales volume and sell-through of styles in previous seasons.

Sales volume refers to the level of sales expressed either as total number of units or total amount that consumers spent on the style.

Sell-through denotes the percentage of items sold at retail compared to the number of items in the line that were manufactured. For example, if 300 items in a line were manufactured and 250 of the items were sold, the sell-through would be 83%. A strong sell-through is desirable, and data on the sell-throughs of past styles are used in deciding which styles the fashion company may want to repeat and/or revise for current lines.

Carryovers are styles repeated from one seasonal line to the next but often in a new fabric, material, and/or color. Modifications are styles whereby one or more design details, such as a collar or pocket, might be changed for the new season to revise a style. Thus, carryovers and modifications provide a less expensive route to add a fresh look to a line. Companies vary as to their use of carryovers and modifications. Luxury fashion brands may only use carryovers for 10% of a line and for only basic items, such as best-selling T-shirts or trousers. Other fashion companies may target at least one-third carryovers and modifications, focusing on best-selling items and manufacturing them in new colors and/or materials or with slight modifications.

Although not included in the design brief for all fashion companies, some companies will include line-for-line copies or knockoffs in their lines.

Line-for-line copies are replicas of a previous style. For example, a heritage fashion brand may decide to reintroduce a style from decades in the past and will include a line-for-line copy of the style in the line.

Knockoffs are designs that are very similar to designs of more expensive and best-selling designs of luxury and/or name brand fashion companies but made with less expensive materials or construction techniques and sold at lower prices than the original. Fashion companies strive to protect their intellectual property through patents, trademarks, and copyrights. When knockoffs are considered violations of intellectual property rights, companies that own the rights may sue the company that copied the designs. However, when designs are not protected by intellectual property laws, companies may copy one-of-a-kind designs quickly and inexpensively. For example, a vintage Mugler dress worn by Kim Kardashian was copied by fashion retailer, Fashion Nova, within 24 hours of when Kardashian appeared in it (Illchi 2019).

In the following step, we’ll discuss the next part of the design brief, manufacturing requirements.

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Product Design and Manufacturing Processes in the Fashion Industry

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