Arketype update

Just a quick update on Arketype, given I’ve been quiet on that front of late around these parts. (For new blog readers – a bit of background here.)

Today I’m heading down to Rise Up to pick up our second fit sample – the dress shirt. The t-shirt fit sample was good, but we’re refining it further and that’s currently with the pattern maker.

I’ve been speaking to Sonny and Biddy at We Buy Your Kids (WBYK) about creating the designs for the initial range of tees. I’ve also been talking further with sustainable fashion designer Timo Rissanen about working together. So far our discussions and the ideas being generated have been very promising.

(As an aside, be sure to head down to Incu at The Galleries Victoria and check out WBYK’s instore displays – v. cool!)

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking on the business plan (especially in light the current economic climate) and have been doing some more market research. I’ve come to a point, though, where I could really use the help of someone with solid retail management experience involved in the project.

So if you happen to know someone (in Australia, pref. Sydney) who’s working in fashion retail as a manager (or store owner) – i.e. someone who has managed a store or perhaps is interested in starting their own fashion retail business, who has experience in the area and knowledge about volumes etc. – that you think might be interested in engaging on the project, please feel free to pass on my details or let me know.

Stepping outside the forest

It’s been a little while since I wrote about the label. That’s in part because, while a lot has happened, I’ve experienced a bit of a setback.

Recently the designer that has been working on the project became unavailable due to other work commitments. While we’ve made significant progress on the designs, there is still a lot to do – selecting fabrics and finalising the patterns among them.

My initial response was one of disappointment. This possibly (probably?) means that I won’t have a range ready for the Summer 09/10 selling season in February.

Although it’s a fair way away, the combination of this being the label’s first collection, ethical manufacturing lead times, and just generally the fact that I’m not on the project full time, mean that the delay in finding and engaging a new designer, and pattern maker (as the pattern maker was of close relation to Susan) means that we just won’t be ready in time.

However, after that initial sense of disappointment, I’ve come to realise that perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise.

In stepping back, outside the forest as it were, and re-assessing things I’ve realised that, in my rush to meet a deadline, I’ve lost sight of some of the initial vision that I had for the business.

I was, to an extent, falling into the trap of doing things because “it’s the way it’s done” rather than being true to my original vision for the label. I was also trying, I think, to force some things, rather than letting them unfold in a more authentic and organic way.

So I’ve decided to “ship when it’s ready” rather than trying to meet some arbitrary deadline. Of course, I’ll still need to take into consideration the realities of selling into a wholesale market, but I want to do things differently, and I’ll need to learn to be patient (not one of my strong points, I must admit) and let it unfold, rather than pushing things through for the sake of it.

Anyways… I’m currently working on doing a merchandising project for Mars Hill Cafe, and I’m catching up with Timo Rissanen, a PhD candidate at UTS who’s sustainable menswear exhibition “Bad Dogs” I caught last week, to see if there’s some way we might be able to work together.

So, in other words, keeping busy and keeping moving things along 🙂

Label progress

Clothing pattern pieces on a table

That picture probably doesn’t look like much (esp. given the crappy quality courtesy of my mobile phone’s camera), but it represents a mini-milestone that I thought was worth celebrating – with blog post at least. It’s elements of the first pattern of the first range for the label – for the dress shirt.

I’m sure this will become old hat one day – not even worthy of a blog post – but this being the first is a little victory for me, and one that I think should be celebrated in its own little way 🙂

There are more designs and patterns to come – we’re planning a February launch to wholesalers (for the summer 09/10 season) of around 6 pieces with a few variations for each – but this is the first off the ranks. It’s also the first “tangible” (i.e. “real world”) artifact that’s resulted from the work I’ve been doing on the label. (It’s also further than I ever got before, so it’s nice to be over the first hurdle.)

We’ll be using it to create a fit sample – that is, testing the basic pattern for the cut etc. – and then we’ll be developing patterns for the variations on the piece.

I’ve been speaking to Bronwyn at RiseUp productions about manufacturing. She has been working for some time to develop a Fairtrade/ethical supply chain for manufacturing clothing and textiles, and has really covered all the bases.

So the first samples (dress shirt and t-shirt) will be coming from RiseUp within the next few weeks, Murphy willing. Hopefully I’ll have more to report soon.

The research project is also complete. The final report provided a lot of clarity on where we should focus. Big props to Nat at Red Rollers for doing such an amazing job, and to the 6 research participants who shared just a little of their lives to help us along.

Big props also to Susan Goodwin (who’s designing the range) for guiding me through the process – her generosity of knowledge has been a tremendous help.

In fact, everyone I’ve dealt with so far – Paula from the Fair Trading Co, Nick at Organic Cotton Advantage, Nat, Susan and Bronwyn have all been extremely generous with their time, knowledge and have each been immensely supportive in their own way. It’s been great so far – I hope the positivity continues (although I am sure there’ll be some challenges on the way)…

I’m learning a lot, which has been great (I love learning – one of my favourite things in the world) – but I’ve still got a way to go. I’m doing a short course with RMIT on textiles in August/September which I hope will help me along as well.

Oh, and during the research period I also decided on a label name (i.e. the “Soko Loko” moniker is no more). I’m speaking to some folks at the moment about developing the visual ID, so I’ll announce the name when I’ve got a nice logo to show y’all 😉