Fashion Design Research

By Ezinma Mbonu

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  • Paperback
  • 300 colour illustrations
  • 192 pages
  • 9⅛ x 7½ ins
  • ISBN 9781780671796
  • Published September 2014

Every fashion collection begins with research. But how do you start? How much should you do? How do you use that research? Fashion Design Research is designed to answer these questions and demystify the process for students.

Illustrated throughout with inspirational photographs and images of good practice within student sketchbooks, the book begins with the basics of primary and secondary research sources and shows students how and where to gather information. Chapters on market, fabric and colour research are followed by the final chapter, which shows how to gather all the information together, understand it and use it in a process known as triangulation. Additionally, case studies from a wide range of international designers showcase different working methods.

By offering a clear approach to research for fashion design, this book will inspire students to embrace an activity that is both fun and fruitful.

About the Author

Ezinma Mbonu is currently Senior Lecturer on the BA (Hons) Fashion course at UCA Epsom. She studied Fashion Womenswear at Central Saint Martins and completed her MA in Fashion at the Royal College of Art, going on to produce her own fashion label. She has also completed an MA in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths College. Ezinma has previously published Fashion Design Research, also for Laurence King Publishing.

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1. What is Research?                
As a fashion designer, research is part of everyday life. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. But there are methods you can use to spark ideas – primary and secondary research – which all designers use. But how much research should you do? How do you keep your research on the right track? This chapter will show you how to ensure your research has depth and relevance to make your collections creative, innovative and unique.    

2. Getting Started                
Most design projects will start with some kind of a brief, even if it is one you create yourself. This chapter will look at the different kinds of brief you will encounter and also look at some methods to get your research started, including brainstorming techniques and spider diagrams. Fashion design research is primarily visual research and this chapter will also look at how to move from words to images and how then to document that research effectively in a sketchbook.

3. Informational Research            
Visual research is an integral part of fashion design – the concept, theme or narrative of a collection is often derived from inspirational imagery. Visual research is strongest when supported by an in-depth understanding of the context of your visuals. When inspired by something, you will want to know everything about it. Designating time to read around a subject and really get to know it – to engage in informational research using secondary research techniques – as shown in this chapter will enhance your research prowess and provide depth to your designs.

4. Creative Research                
Creative research uses primary research techniques. It gives you the opportunity to take out your pencils, paper, crayons, paper, scissors and glue and really explore your theme through drawing, photography and collage. This chapter will also show you how manipulating fabric through customization, deconstruction and draping can help you find new and innovative textures, shapes and silhouettes.

5. Fabric Research                
Some designers start with the fabric when creating a collection, others need to source a fabric that will work with their design ideas. Whichever way you work, an understanding of the how fabrics drape and the properties of individual fibres from which they are made is essential. This chapter looks at natural, man-made and mixed fabrics and explains how to source and choose fabrics for your collection.

6. Colour Research                
Colour research underpins any fashion collection. This chapter looks at colour theory and colour terminology so that you can discuss colour with confidence. A step-by-step guide to creating a colour palette shows you how to choose colours and apply them to your collection to support your theme and create the most flattering styles.

7. Market Research            
Engaging in market research creates awareness and an understanding of the different levels of the fashion market. It is vital that you have a sense of the end-user for your designs – the consumer – to keep your work relevant. This chapter explores the fashion market and shows how you can visualize your customer, either by using a muse to identify an individual or through looking at brand identity, advertising and trend forecasting to gain an insight into their hopes and aspirations.

8. Concept Development        
As you gather together all your primary and secondary research, creative and informational, you need to use a strategy to make the most of that research to draw out your design ideas using triangulation, to test them through analysis, and then to filter them down through editing. This chapter explores this process as well as giving advice on what to do when you are stuck. It ends with the creation of concept, mood or storyboards and the final design development process towards the creation of the finished presentation sheets in your portfolio.

Further Reading                
Picture credits and acknowledgements   

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