As a fashion entrepreneur, one of the most important relationships you'll enter isn't the one you might think... No, it’s not your brand influencers, investors, or even your manufacturing partners. Your most critical partnership is the one you'll make with your designer. Working with a capable designer that fully understands your vision and can bring it to life is vital to your long-term success. But how do you make sure you’re working alongside the right designer?
Think of designer selection as an exercise in matchmaking. Much like dating, it requires a little getting to know each other. You’ll need to interview potential candidates to ensure their backgrounds and personality fit your needs. The types of questions you ask will be critical to you gaining the right information to make an informed decision.
So, what questions should you ask, and what insight should you look for in their responses? The key is to ask a wide variety of questions. If you only ask questions about their industry experience, you won’t get the full picture. Here are the categories of questions you need to ask.
1. General personality questions
Asking about how they prefer to work and communicate will help you decide if your two working styles will mesh well together. It also allows you to get to know them on more of a personal level to see how you might get along working side by side on a regular basis.
2. Industry experience questions
Dive into how long they’ve been in the industry and which product categories they specialize in (swimwear, sweaters, accessories, etc.) to decide if they have the right expertise for your brand. It also allows you to better grasp any industry connections you might be able to leverage by working with them. It also is an opportunity for learning how the ins and outs of the fashion industry work with your design counterpart.
3. Skillset questions
Learning the skillsets that a designer has will help you determine what they can assist you in. For example, if a designer has experience in the full manufacturing process–fabric sourcing, pattern making, and garment fittings–they can help well beyond sketches and design.
4. Technology + innovation questions
Technology plays a big role in working efficiently. If a designer has access to and is versed in innovative software like Clo3D, PLM, and Adobe Illustrator, it can save you a lot of time and resources during development. It's important to know how innovative your designer is with regard to trends, materials, and overall construction methods. Be sure to ask if they use any trend forecasting sites to stay up-to-date on industry trends.
5. Process-related questions
Dig deep to discover how the envision the entire project unfolding and how long it will take from their lens. Knowing their process (and making sure they have one) is a huge benefit as it prepares you for the road ahead while outlining what to expect and when you can plan to launch.
6. Portfolio + aesthetic questions
Viewing your designer's portfolio of past work will help you visualize whether or not their design aesthetic will lend well to your brand’s DNA. Ask what part of the processes they owned and how it went to better understand the breadth and depth of their experience.
7. Values + beliefs questions
And lastly, asking questions about their values + beliefs when it comes to the fashion industry will help you gauge whether or not they align with your company's values. Values are more important than you might think, especially in an ever-changing market, so it's always a great idea to ensure you sync up here as well!
Photo Credit: Our design work for SWMR. See more of our work here.
Need help figuring out exactly what to ask?
Below are the essential 11 fashion designer interview questions you should ask before hiring a designer.
What forms of communication do you prefer to use? (Email, Slack, Loom, Text)
What experience do you have working in the fashion design industry?
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Can you provide any examples of collections you have designed in the past?
What is your experience with fabric sourcing and garment construction?
How do you stay up to date with current fashion trends?
Are you familiar with CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software for designing garments?
Do you have any ideas for unique materials or design elements that could be used in the collection?
Are there any special methods or processes you use to design a collection?
Are there any sustainability considerations that should be considered when designing the collection?
What is your timeline for completing the collection, and what kind of support will you need from me during this process?
In conclusion, the apparel designer you choose for your fashion collection is an important decision. Come prepared to ask various questions to get to know your prospects. With this information and a clear vision of what kind of collection you're looking to create, you can be confident that you'll find a designer to help bring your dream fashion collection to life.