Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Success for Design Entrepreneurs (DEs) in 21st C. Boston

Boston’s Jewish tailors started the apparel industry at the turn of the 20th century by creating production patterns, teaching apprentices, setting up manufacturing shops, and copying creative designs. By mid-century dressmakers in New York and Boston fashion schools began producing creative designers. From the different learning backgrounds, a “wall” arose between creative design rooms and efficient manufacturing and pattern designers – with high costs from poor design management. As manufacturing went offshore in the 1980s, retailers began their own product development, adding CAD systems – and sameness took over.

Young designers who dream of creating “a collection” have presently no path, nor the knowledge, to materialize quality design ideas that can be produced efficiently to make an income. If they could find a pattern maker and a contract shop, the costs would be prohibitive. Boston Design Lab (BDL) evolved to creatively solve these problems through the Stylometrics system (developed in National Science Foundation grants), and by innovating business structures. DEs must be willing to collaborate, working together to create these new systems in Boston. The aim is to eliminate many middling costs from designer to consumer, without losing quality and uniqueness, and to set up IT (Information Technologies) to solve product lifecycle problems at POD (Point of design).

Pattern Templates are part of the Stylometrics system, upon which DEs develop creative design ideas (by draping or flat work), to result in a pattern that is ready for efficient production. Sameness in product and processes give speed, efficiency and low-cost in production. The Templates are a foundation of sameness for creative 2-D art or 3-D fashion sculpture, and works to eliminate many costly repetitions

Some innovative business structures in BDL are:
“Boutique Production”
; a
“Timeshare Factory”
; training fashion consultants to work with DEs for selling direct to consumers in trunk shows, expos, etc.; software, such as “Self AWear™” for collecting consumer preferences in databases; critiques for saleability to myriad market demographics; linking with a sewing professionals association, for making custom or small lots.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The purpose for Boston Design Laboratory™ (BDL) is to redesign the fashion industry in Bos-ton through creative research of new production technologies and new business structures – in order that fashion design entrepreneurs and dressmakers can make a good income – increasingly more difficult in today’s markets. Our approach encompasses all aspects of the industry, collaborations in the ways the self-employed work together in creating solutions to problems. There are four divisions, determined by Shirley Willett, the founder, in a 2004 paper prepared for a Massachusetts Institute of Technology workshop to explain the future design of the fashion apparel industry. Information is collected in databases and other technologies for designer quality and efficiency at the Point of Design (POD-IT)

1) Creativity, Research & Resources.
Problem: Much creativity in the fashion apparel industry has been lost with the mechanization of CAD/CAM technology, which has opened up extensive copying and repetitions.
Future:. All BDL designers and dressmakers start with the Stylometrics Pattern Templates, researched by Shirley Willett in a series of National Science Foundation grants, for achieving more beautiful, creative shaping, quality fitting, and efficient production of one-of-a-kinds, small or big production lots. The system is highly efficient for development of creative ideas and can reduce necessity of copying and sameness.

2) Pattern Design & Engineering.

Problem: Commodity apparel is completely mechanized in CAD pattern systems for low-costs in design and production – while high fashion is too random and expensive, poor time management from design to market. Unfortunately, there is nothing in between.
Future: The Stylometrics system is structured so that while designing and making the first sample (prototype), the pattern is also ready for production. The Templates are ideal for easy manipulation of flat 2-D work, or for creative draping as on an armature in sculpture.

3) Production Engineering.
Problem: Sameness in product and processes give speed, efficiency and low-cost, but results in boring styles. Manufacturing in America of high fashion design is extremely limited and costly and non-existent for very unique ideas, small lots, one-of-a-kinds, or custom.
Future: It is integral to BDL’s mission to solve these problems through technical innovations linked to the Stylometrics system, which has a foundation of sameness upon which to build great creativity. BDL is working with the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (PAAC) on “mass-produced custom”, and is proposing a “Boutique Production” concept.

4) Marketing, Selling & Customers.
Problem: Too many middling costs, and distortion of consumer desires from the distance between designers and consumers.
Future: Trunk shows, direct sales, and creative, collaborative marketing are integral parts of our research. Our dream is to make the customers an active part of the fashion industry, with a software program, “Self A-wear™” which will collect consumer desires, and a “Willett Design Room” (WDR) that can maintain the unique selling relationship.

Emma left a comment on the last post:
what are the styleometrics pattern templates? I am designing and making a modern wedding dress and was needing some help with how to make a pattern

Some of your question is answered above, but I realize not in any detail. If you live in the New England area, please contact me, and I can suggest some ways to help you with patterns. You can also read my website at http://www.shirleywillett.com You can also join the Boston Fashion Industry Meetup. Click http://fashion.meetup.com/1/