Lauren Frances Bevan
Field 3: Exhibition
‘Summer of Celebration’ Project Evaluation
My aim for this project was inspired by my dissertation research, which included the study of women in contemporary culture from a feminist angle. I set out to produce a highly creative, design led collection of fabrics for the high-end female activewear market. Designing for the Spring/Summer season 2016; I wanted to create a vibrant, playful and optimistic collection of fashion fabrics that would inspire self confidence, and a happy healthy lifestyle.
I have a keen interest in trend analysis and so enjoyed collecting thorough and focused research. I discovered evidence of a growing demand for luxury activewear by my target customer. Particularly prominent across social media; I observed a huge trend for bold and striking pattern within activewear that young women would also wear as daywear, between workouts. This research helped me to develop a clear customer profile which underpinned my decision making throughout the duration of the project.
I progressed to researching competitor brands in the market such as Sweaty Betty, Lululemon and Fabletics. I researched the technical fabrics used by the brands and the qualities that were important for particular garments and activities. This research informed my choice of substrates and production methods for my collection. I made trips to a variety of fabric shops to collect synthetic fabrics to experiment with in the workshops. I applied dyes to the fabrics using the heat press and dye baths and began to understand how the different fabrics took on colour. I realised I wanted to outsource my collection for digital printing and went on to discover a company I could use. However, I still wanted to put into practise some of the hand rendered processes I had learned during my time at university, and identified applying foil and flock as finishes to digitally printed designs, had potential to be effective. I continued to research and experiment within the workshops and eventually applied flock and foil finishes to a select few of my final samples.
My primary focus of this project was to produce a commercially appropriate, innovative and highly creative collection of digital designs to the best of my ability. In order to achieve this I first created a variety of drawings in sketchbooks and on loose sheets. My overall inspiration for this project was from travel to Orlando, Florida and specifically a town called Celebration; which inspired the collection name ‘Summer of Celebration’. Motifs I worked with included palm trees, Miami beach style architecture, typography and tropical foliage. I used a variety of media, with experimental techniques such as creating stamps, and using wax crayons and ink, alongside some more refined fine liner studies and colourful paintings. I next evaluated the most successful motifs to take forward and develop designs from.
Due to the quick turn around production time of my chosen printing company I allowed myself plenty of time to develop and refine my designs. I spent time ensuring I had a good variety of repeat formations, borders and changes of scale, and continually printed off my designs in small squares to place together as a collection, and evaluate each designs’ development progressively. This really helped to focus my mind to my overall aims, and ensure my designs continued to work together successfully- with particular attention to simpler co ordinating patterns. I also called upon my colour research to ensure my colours were market and season appropriate, and later developed two different colour palettes to offer alternative colour ways.
During this project I have been strict to keep to my personal schedule and set myself specific tasks to complete daily and weekly. This careful time management meant that I could meet each minor deadline confidently. I was particularly pleased about this when it came to present to the external examiner. I was self assured and confident in the standard of my work, and direction of my creative decision making as I presented. In the week before the presentation I had an opportunity to practise at the interim critique, and received criticism for speaking too quietly and being unclear. Therefor during the time between the two presentations I strived to improve upon this area of weakness, and was pleased when a week later, Dr Miller commented on the professionalism and success of my presentation.
Alongside the development of a collection of trend informed designs I have worked on identifying and branding myself as a designer. I wanted to create a collection that I would be happy that represented my personal language of textiles and my personal aesthetic, along with branding that reflected this. Developing my press pack helped me to achieve this. I created a name logo based around my handwriting and carefully selected a colour palette to use to link my business card, postcard and various other promotional outlets. I am pleased I spent time considering the design and impression these items would give. During a networking event at new Cardiff Arcades based interior design company ‘PAD Deco’ I was proud to present myself with my business cards.
Furthermore I have focussed on planning for my design career after university, and on developing an effective Ciriculum Vitae with the help of the university careers advisor. I have chosen to exhibit my final collection at the New Designers exhibition which I hope will be a fantastic networking opportunity. Preparing for New Designers has required working as part of a team. I feel alongside my fellow students, I have done this effectively, resulting in a fundraising campaign that included a successful art sale we arranged together, and held at Chapter Gallery.
I have found the most challenging part of this project in the execution of my display for the public exhibition. On planning what I thought was a simple but effective exhibition space I underestimated the time I needed to erect my work, and the problems that would arise; even though I dedicated the final weeks, and weekends to the task. This is something I am now far more understanding of and feel I could do better in the future.
Overall I am pleased with my graduate collection, I feel it is appropriate and well researched for its application to sportswear. I have reached a new level of professionalism, practised from communicating with companies and problem solving. I feel I worked to the deadline well and was suitably ambitious pushing myself to be the best I could. I have improved my design skills particularly within Photoshop and Illustrator and as a result now feel more confident to attend my work placement at International Greetings. I am proud of what I have achieved and feel excited to embark on my future career starting with perfecting my portfolio for New Designers.
Prior to the Easter holidays I am required to submit an exhibition plan to illustrate my requirements for my degree show space. This is something I have been struggling with. Initially I created an ‘exhibition ideas’ mood board to convey my idea of a yoga studio themed display; I decided to have a low shelf with relevant props; water bottle, gym towel, candles etc. Perhaps with some simple floor cushions or yoga mats on the floor- I had sourced a company who print on yoga mats I could use. I had decided to display lengths of fabric in the style of antigravity yoga slings- essentially just a way to show lengths of print. However on presenting this idea I was told specifically not to do any form of theme or props and so have come up with a simple exhibition plan. I do feel this plan is plain but feel the need to adhere to advise of lecturers. Hopefully my designs will be effective and memorable enough as the main focus of the display.
My main focus of this week was preparing to present to the external examiner. I was pleased that I was able to design a few patterns in order to give an idea of where my collection was heading in time for the presentation. The experience was very positive, I felt confident in my presentation and received positive feedback. Dr Miller commented that my project was at a strong position and gave me some ideas to consider moving forward, she also commented on my professionalism in presenting which I was really pleased about.
I attended the university visit to Chelsea Design Week on Friday. Again this year I found the visit inspiring and informative. I gained inspiration for pattern placement, colour and trends and also for my exhibition space. There were a number of inspiring window displays which used subtle props but in a really effective way to show off collections.
I began this week by adding a little more to my drawing before scanning images I feel have the most potential in to the computer to design with. I have also tried to determine which drawings and motifs will inform which family of designs. I decided to aim to create four families; the first a more architectural/urban family. Secondly a family taken from my manipulated photography imagery, and the third and fourth families inspired by my tropical foliage and palm leaf studies. Deciding upon this has given me direction and a new sense of focus. I feel anxious to start designing.
On Thursday I gave a presentation to Lucy and some fellow students as as part of the Interim critique assessments. I prepared my work space and inspiration board to convey my project. I felt quite confident about the standard of work I had created so far and the direction my project was heading. Its particularly interesting to talk to Lucy about this project with her background in contour design. I also enjoyed hearing about the others projects and their themes which were very diverse. Feedback suggested that my project was developing well and my mood boards and concept were sound but that I was behind and lacking in design development. I felt a little disheartened at this- I really hate feeling like I am behind, but felt confident that I could really dive into designing and create some designs to present for the external examiners visit next week.
Alongside some solid designs I also want to have some more technical samples ready to present to the external examiner, I decided to experiment with Mesh. I attempted to mix my colours with heat transfer dyes in the print studio, this was quite challenging as the colours change dramatically on being heated. However, I tested as I mixed and found that by mixing with greys and adding carefully considered colours such as a more blue or more red tones I was able to mix up quite successful colours. I was really pleased with how well the mesh took the dye. The colour was bold and just looks very cool on the mesh!
I next played around scrunching the mesh in the heat press with coloured sheets of paper, the effect is almost geometric with triangular shards of overlapping colour. This is a technique I feel could have potential for final samples. In the meantime I have also created some interesting textures and backgrounds by scanning the dyed mesh in and incorporating it into my digital designs.
This has been a very hands on week. Given that I have found a company to outsource printing with, and I know their turn around and delivery times; I feel confident in spending a little more time than I would have still drawing and experimenting.
I bought a number of sealable plastic containers and mixed up a fair quantity of each of my colours. I have thus far been working mostly in monochrome which is useful because it scans well into the computer to be manipulated digitally. However, I love colour and mixing colour combinations, so I decided I needed to work in colour. I created a collection of paintings inspired by tropical foliage that I am pleased with. I am happy with the variety of brush strokes and the compositions. I think these paintings could work well as a whole manipulated into croquis, but also have strong potential for extracting sections as motifs for smaller repeats.
I have also been experimenting with applying foil and flock finishes to synthetic fabrics in the print workshop. I have had mostly successful results. Both the foil and flock adhered well to lycra and jersey although results were better on the jersey. The process was less successful with a spandex fabric which took on the whole foil rather than the screen printed motif. I tested stretching the fabrics after the foil and flock application and was satisfied that the elasticity wasn’t compromised and the design of the flock and foiled motif contracted back into shape almost perfectly even with quite an extreme stretch. Therefor I will use these processes in my final collection to add interest or to highlight areas. I have been drawing out stylised typography to include in my designs and feel these processes could have potential to work effectively with my typography.
This week I have been finalising my mood boards. I really enjoy creating mood boards. As soon as I embark on a new project with a new theme I begin to collect screen shots and photographs of inspiring images from a range of sources both online or when I’m out and about. When it comes to creating mood boards these images help define the look I have in mind for my collection and help me convey it with impact. I decided to create a theme board, a colour board, a competitor board and customer board. my boards have developed and changed, but I am really happy with where they are now- they are a great resource to refer to.
Central to my theme board is one of the images I took in Celebration, Florida- the source of inspiration for my project. I have began to experiment with this image in my drawing and artwork development. I am passionate about photography and have often used photographs as references for drawing; however, I have never directly translated photographic imagery into textiles. I love the work of designer Mary Katrantzou and inspired by her I want to experiment with photography in this collection. I think that fashion fabrics and activewear are very suitable for this type of experimentation. I began by taking the image into photoshop and playing with different filters and effects, and dropping my colours in. There have been some interesting results and I will experiment further. I can see this design being interesting on mesh paneling detail on garments.
This week I have also had some success in sourcing a company to print my fabrics with. This had been a concern particularly with stressful stories of past students having long delays between ordering designs and delivery, and of a potential need to rush the design process. However, I have discovered a company with a quick turn around that print on a wide variety of synthetic fabrics including lycra, jersey and mesh. They also have a ‘live chat’ section on their website which has proven useful for asking questions as between the hours of 8:30am and 6:00pm there is someone there live to help. They offer a variety of fabric weights and matte or shine finishes, so I have ordered a selection of colour atlas’ to judge variations in the printing. I also have a few stand by companies just incase but so far I am really pleased with the service.
I have now developed a clear customer profile for my project. My customer is female, aged 18-35, with a disposable income for luxury activewear; potentially a young professional. She is outgoing, confident and both health and style conscious.
I’ve become aware of the powerful advertising campaigns of leaders in the luxury activewear market such as Sweaty Betty, Lululemon Athletica and Lexie Sport, alongside more mainstream sportswear brands such as Nike and Adidas. Aggressive advertising floods conventional media such as Television adverts and magazine pages, but also newer spaces such as social media with the message being spread across Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. I’ve also collected the lookbooks regularly released by these brands which are like mini magazines- very trendy, with cool editorial style- this is something I would like to explore creating for my final collection.
My research has also lead me to explore substrates used in the sector. I have decided I would like to largely digitally print my collection. I don’t think this is possible on the university Mimaki printer with the fabrics I want to use. Therefor I will need to identify a company I can use to outsource my fabric printing. I will be working with synthetic fabrics such as lycra and jersey. I’ve learned that certain activities command certain qualities from fabrics used to make garments; for example, women who practise yoga and wear lycra leggings value total opacity, and garments worn for vigorous activity should be sweat wicking and lightweight. Further to this I will need to consider that gym wear is typically washed more often than normal daywear. I have also enjoyed researching the new and technical fabrics used in sportswear. I particularly like the trend for mesh paneling within garments such as leggings, vest tops and running jackets. Both practical because mesh can provide cover whilst being super breathable and ventilating- it also creates interesting texture, feels comfortable on the skin and has a very fashion forward look.
I have now written my Self Set brief and so feel reassured that I have this document with a timetable, to refer to and make sure I am on track. I really enjoy the market and trend research part of a project- I find it inspiring and interesting. However, I am really looking forward to emerging myself in drawing and experimenting in the workshops. This weekend I will make a trip to Swansea fabrics store Lee Mills to source a variety of synthetic fabrics to experiment with in the print studio.