Range Creation – A Simple Checklist
Facts and Figures
Often overlooked in range planning is last seasons analysis of the collection. If you are going into your second season what items sold well for you last season? Do not reinvent the wheel. Each time you create a new style you have to make a new pattern. If it goes into bulk production then you have to grade a nest of patterns and this all costs money. If you perfected the fit first time round bring in the newness the following season with a tweak such as a new colour, new fabric and new trims. Start to develop your key classics – a good fitting pair of trousers that has repeat orders on from one season should not be thrown out next season. Develop them further!
Look at the construction of range how many tops do you have to bottoms? At Principles for Women we worked on a 2.5 tops to bottoms ratio i.e. we sold 2.5 tops for every pair of bottoms sold. Don’t go mad on offering a comprehensive offer of skirts and trousers which are more investment buys – the tops tend to be generally cheaper and the retailers can afford to buy a greater quantity of tops compared to bottoms.
Look at the best selling colours last season – you may be surprised? Classics normally run supreme such as black, ivory, white, the neutral family, grey and browns. Don’t go made on the seasons latest colour. Next season there’s talk of yellow as the key colour. How many people do you know that can wear yellow! It’s great for the Mediterranean climate and complexions but it can be very draining on a pale complexion! It’s important to have the fashion colours each season but it’s the depth of the buy that will keep your margins high. If you have a 10% buy of yellow but you only sell 3% then the total margin of the collection will be affected. Is there another way you can offer fashion colours e.g. incorporate it into a print for example.
Don’t get bogged down with two season ranges think outside your box. There is now so much talk of lifestyle dressing and the concept of rolling ranges be flexible in your approach. A good seller is a good seller so build around that item. If you have a major seller offer choice to the buyer to extend the life of that it has. This is a classic spot to start talking about product life cycles but I will resist the urge! These are rolling ranges. You update the garment by product innovation and not diversify into new products season after season so the garment rolls on but is undated so it appears new.
Detail detail detail. Yes it is important but stand back and look at the collection as a whole. When you work on your own you have to do everything from your own PR, manufacturing, reception and somewhere you cram in your design. It is so easy to start over analysing and strategise every single component for each garment that it becomes totally negative. I have been there I know. You can get hyper because you just can’t find the right shade of button or the colour of the print isn’t quite right. Stand back and get friends, family, your manufacturer anyone you respect to review your collection. Look at the forest and not the individual branches on the tree.
What about the professionalism of your collection – a buyer reviewing your collection will know within the first five minutes of a review whether there is any chance of opening an account. Are all the hangers matching – I became anal over this and those that are working with me now know that this is a pet hate of mine. To see beautiful garments hanging off an assortment of hangers looks the pits and quite frankly if you don’t care enough about your own collection to present them in the best possible way then you don’t deserve to have accounts opened! Are the labels all the consistent and compatible, swing tickets all placed in a consistent manner e.g. trousers into left hand side seam (as worn) under waistband? Blouses left hand side (as worn) under cuff or under armhole? Make sure you are consistent and the information on each card is also consistent e.g. style number, fabric content and size range. Delivery date and price are always difficult to accurately confirm as they can move as the season progresses.
These pointers are by no means an exclusive list but hopefully they will help. Now get prepared and organised then get out there and SELL!
By Jenny Holloway