Where do you even begin when planning a fashion collection? Believe it or not, there's a method to the madness. It's not an exact science but there’s certainly an art to the process.
It all begins with fashion line planning AKA range planning or assortment planning.
Line planning is where creativity meets strategy.
So what exactly is line planning? Fashion line planning is the process of mapping out the range of styles your brand will offer for a particular collection/season.
So who kicks off fashion line planning? Typically at larger fashion companies, buyers, merchants, planners, and designers all sit down together to brainstorm the line plan. At smaller brands, this is typically one person or a small team wearing the hats of all these departments. In this meeting, a detailed spreadsheet is created called a line plan. The line plan maps out the design and financial parameters for the upcoming season. It includes a drawing of every garment, style numbers, fabrics, colorways, size range, cost per garment, target retail price, and order quantities. At first, much of this information is a guesstimate or placeholder. As the collection is more fleshed out it will be updated with the final numbers.
What is the main purpose of a line plan? The main purpose of a line plan is to ensure that the collection assortment is balanced in style offering, stays within budget, and meets varying customer price points. Having a detailed spreadsheet will keep all team members on track.
So how do you make sure the collection is balanced? Here are some key areas to consider to guarantee that your fashion collection has something to offer to all your customers.
1. Color balance
a. How much of the collection is dark vs light?
b. Is there an assortment of muted vs saturated colorways?
c. Does the collection offer a fair amount of fashion colors and neutrals?
Every customer has a different preference for color. Some may only gravitate toward bright fashion colors while others only wear black. You want to make sure your collection has options for everyone.
2. Print balance
How much of the collection is print vs solid?
Do you have a loud bold print and a dainty print?
Prints are very subjective. Not everyone wants to wear a print so offering solids and prints will make sure all your customers are taken care of.
3. Silhouette balance
a. Are you offering form-fitting and loose-flowing silhouettes?
b. Is there a balance of modest vs. skin-baring tops + bottoms?
c. High rise vs. low rise?
d. Are there options for length (maxi vs. mini; boyshorts vs. full-length pants)
e. Where do you have empty spots to fill?
Think of all body types and preferences. Will all your customers have something they feel comfortable wearing?
4. Style balance
a. How many tops vs. bottoms?
b. How many tees vs shorts?
c. Do you have coverups and accessories for layering?
Think of all the pieces for an outfit. Does your collection provide all the pieces needed for layering? Do you have enough tops and bottoms to mix and match for different looks? Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What activities and events do they participate in? Do they have something for all their needs?
5. Material balance
a. Fabric for basics vs. fabric for trend pieces.
b. Satin vs. organic cotton
c. Sheer vs. opaque
d. Lightweight vs. heavyweight
e. Soft vs. rigid
Using different materials will add visual interest to your collection. If you offer different but complementary fabrics your assortment will feel unique and cohesive. Also, some garments may need durable utility features while others are mostly made for looks. Think of the end use of the garment and plan accordingly.
6. Price point balance
a. Entry price point vs. high-end price point
Does your collection have something to offer in each bracket of your customer’s price range? Your entry-level tank top may get them in the door but they may decide
to impulse purchase your high-end rashguard. Make sure you have something to offer everyone.
At the end of the day, your customer just wants to feel like they have options. Nothing is more boring than clicking on a brand’s website to see that they only offer 1 top and 1 bottom in 1 color. Talk about a snoozefest. They’ll leave the website in seconds. By strategically creating a line plan you’re guaranteed to offer a line assortment that is balanced perfectly and has something for everyone!
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