Saturday, November 18, 2006

SELF (Self-Employed Laboratory for Fashion) – Coming!

In 1980 I published a book, “Let’s Design A Dress”, mentioned in an earlier post. I had developed a set of nine Primitive patterns to make high-quality pattern making much easier. Many have asked me for this book. But I took it off the market later in the 80’s when I was awarded a series of National Science Foundation grants for researching and developing this system, I called Stylometrics. The book was only 2-D, and now I had the system as 2-D, 3-D and 4-D. I tried for years to get the CAD-CAM vendors to work with me, but they only stole certain parts, never the whole system. In January, 2004, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Dept. asked me to represent the fashion apparel industry in a workshop to compare design practices between industries, and talk about Stylometrics. It was then I realized that the way to get this system out to the world was to teach it to young designers and help them start a whole new kind of fashion industry that will benefit them instead of big retailers and apparel manufacturers.

Teaching alone, however, wasn’t working that well. Only a very few could really go further by themselves without continued help. This past year I began to take on protégés that I would mentor. Tess, (see the post on her success and production in China) is one of those protégés. As more young designers want this, I realize I cannot continually take on single ones to mentor. Now going on 74, I realized I must create a “business system” that can be passed on to some, who can then pass it on to others. SELF, Self-Employed Laboratory for Fashion, is the result. As a research laboratory it will be structured to accommodate the continual and fast changes in the fashion industry. Having my Stylometrics Pattern Engineering System, as a base is a recognition that what makes any high fashion apparel business successful are the patterns, their beautiful shape, fit, and the cost-effective production systems they are designed to achieve. This is far more important than simply getting low-cost production overseas.

The fundamental product of SELF, therefore, will be patterns. After years of testing the set of nine Primitives (P), I discovered there were really only five that were important, P-1 Bodice, P-8 Skirt (as a dress in first sketch); P-2 Blazer, P-7 Pants (in second sketch); and P-9, Gored Skirt (in third sketch). I have a team of five young designers, each of whom will have their own design businesses. We will start with their needs, and develop a list of “Generic Patterns”, or the next level up of pattern design changes. There is a great deal more to this whole idea. I have four steps, all very creative processes, in the product lifecycle: 1) Creativity, Research & Resources, 2. SELF Pattern Designs, 3. Production, and 4. Marketing & Sales.

This is all I’m saying about it now. But, please ask some questions and let me know your interests, because it can influence our direction to help all of you. I will continue to tell you more in the next posts.

1 comment:

Diane said...

Please please get those patterns into production! Any aspiring designer needs a basic set. The big pattern companies don't have to worry about anyone using their patterns for commercial use. The drafts are awful! All these years, I thought it was my fault...not cutting properly and ending up with mismatched seams. Now I know better.