Spring 2018 Design
Spring 2018 Design
One of the biggest ironies I’ve found so far in this business is that the process of making clothes to help people run fast goes painfully slow. Design takes a long time. Fabric sourcing takes a long time. Development (the process of making prototypes, testing them, and making fit adjustments) takes a long time. Once you’ve done all that, the bulk production process feels like it takes decades. Of course, it’s all very necessary to make high quality apparel that meets our demands, meets our customer’s demands and performs better than anything else on the market.
Human Octane is a rollercoaster ride for me and I want you to go on that ride with me, so I plan to share as much detail as possible about each step in the process. Be prepared for explicit lyrics. This shit is really hard to accomplish and even harder to do well. Sometimes I get frustrated.
Let’s start with designing our new 2018 styles, a process that started in early April 2017.
I’ve always had this vision of making people look like the superhero versions of themselves. If you think back to the superhero movies you’ve seen, all of them wear a cool costume that makes them look more physically imposing than they are. I’m sure the actors felt invincible in those costumes and I want to give OCR athletes the same feeling when they race. Executing that vision in a sleek, stylish way proved to be really difficult.
Our first decision point was in overall design “DNA,” which is design cues that remain consistent throughout a collection of clothes from a given brand. Lululemon is fantastic at this, if you needed an example. For us, we had to decide between curved architecture where seams would flow with the natural lines of people’s bodies or sharper angles more akin to classic Superheros. I worked with my design team on a couple of sketches that would serve as the starting point for our design DNA going forward. Women's styles are the two on left. Men's styles are on the right.
It came down a gut feeling to go with the curved architecture. It feels right to take that natural aesthetic we all have an amp it up. Also, I feel like it gives us more freedom and versatility moving forward. We ended up refining the women’s stuff for the final design and mashed up of the two initial ideas on the men’s version in the final designs. (I'll show the final versions to you once I know if the target production cost is going to work with my planned retail price. More on that in a minute.) From there, I had to pick fabric which is trickier than it sounds.
You know how when you walk into the paint department at Home Depot and there are thousands of colors to pick from and you have no fucking clue what will look good? Then, once you decide on a color, you need to also add a sheen, which can affect the tone of the color? Picking fabrics is like that, only on overdrive because you have to add two more elements: the way it feels (called “hand” in the clothing industry) and the way it performs in terms of stretch, moisture management and a bunch of other things. Oh, and they also have wildly different costs, so you have to pick one you like that will fit in your budget.
Of course, I like the most expensive fabric. Fuck it, I’m trying to make the best compression pants and sports bra the sport of OCR has ever seen. I’m more about making a quality product than I am about churning product. A few dollars lower in margin it is.
We’re rolling with 77% nylon and 23% spandex. By now, we all know that synthetic fibers are best for performance clothing, but a lot of the big brands (yeah, I’m talking about Nike, Under Armour, Adidas) favor polyester as their primary fiber because it's a lot less expensive than nylon. Nylon feels smoother against your skin and is more resiliant when stretched, meaning clothes made with nylon as the primary fiber hold their shape better, longer. For compression purposes, resiliant stretch means it will hug your body tighter.
Here I am selecting fabrics with the design team. Some of our current styles are in the foreground.
Now, we sit back and wait five weeks for the factory with work with in Thailand to make prototypes for us so we can test them for fit and function. Oh, and we also need the factory to quote a cost per unit at production. Obviously, that's a really important point because we need our costs to be on target if we're going to be able to sell them to you for a reasonable amount. My biggest concern at this point is that our design, while AMAZING in my opinion, is too intricate and technical to make at the target cost. I hope I'm wrong.