Through the Lens of UX:
Fashion Design and the Development Process
In my previous post, I drew parallels between the UX design process and the fashion design process, which is illustrated in this infographic. By referencing the “double diamond,” designers can easily draw a connection against their existing process to reveal areas of opportunity to better serve their end-user.
Breaking down the process by stage allows us to examine those areas of opportunities. Consequently, a user-centered approach to developing garments could improve the business practices of fashion companies.
RESEARCH & SYNTHESIZE
- The design team does not directly communicate with the customer.
- With an intuitive eye for color and design, designers interpret data based on market trends, selling reports, and online customer reviews and translate it into something that will be best suited for customers.
- Line direction is dictated by the creative director and styles are "approved" based on the aforementioned points.
- Essentially, the design team is telling the customer "we think you will like this" and nudge them to try new trends along the way.
DESIGN & PROTOTYPE
- Iterations are not based on user testing.
- Iterations are requested from external and internal stakeholders (retail buyers, the creative director, or the development team if they foresee issues bringing the style to market).
- While the customer is kept in mind, iterations are driven on the assumption that the customer will like the iterations that lead to the final product, which will ultimately result in the purchasing of style.
BUILD & DELIVERY
- Considering this is a physical product, the ability to iterate on a product that has been brought to market is nearly impossible. With a digital product, you can tweak features based on feedback and further testing (on the existing platform).
- Any iterations to be made on a style happens during the next cycle of production or product development.
These points raise the question of how we might improve the fashion design process to create a style that the end-user will actually want? This leads to questions like:
- How might we create a style that the user will want to KEEP and wear ENDLESS times?
- What is the intended lifecycle of the product? What happens once the user is “done” with the garment?
- Do customers care more about quality or price?
- Are customers seeing (or feeling) the value in garments currently in stores? If not, are they EXPECTING a lower price due to that?
- How can we reduce or eliminate the waste during the sample development process?
- How do we modernize the garment development process to facilitate creativity, community, and growth amongst designers, artisans, and factory workers?
The list of questions can go on and on, but exploring the process through the lens of UX exposes gaps not only when it comes to designing for the user, but also in the process itself. Ultimately, creating a better product for the end-user can prevent returns, markdowns, and excess stock which can lead to increased profits and sustainable practices for the business. An interesting concept to explore… in another post.