Origins #33 — Product development
Ten months of iterations
We wanted to do a recap of the product development cycle that we went through the past year and now is the perfect time having wrapped up the process and with the first collection in production. I will first go through the specific steps we took and later reflect on some learnings about product development we inferred from our experience so far.
By far the most important of all elements, that we needed to figure out and have ready, before we proceed with anything else. It was already clear from our research that the fabric is going to be the most critical element, and therefore the bottleneck in making the product. Doing a lot of research online and offline (by going to stores to physically touch different fabrics and read the contents on different clothes) we were able to provide some initial guidance to our manufacturing partner. One thing was always certain — we wanted a mixture of synthetics without cotton. We are not cotton denialists or anything of the sort, but were worried about the moisture absorption that results in most cotton fabrics — something we wanted to prevent in our product. In addition, we wanted to achieve a wrinkle-resistant property to our shirts, but without going down the route of chemically treated cotton.
After we passed these requirements to our supplier, we waited to receive different samples. A few weeks later we had 5 variations in our hands, from which we had to make a final decision and commit. Looking back, the choice we made was the best one for sure…and we ended up using it in our production cycle.
Lastly, we had the opportunity to further improve the fabric we chose by treating it with silver ions, making it has odor-repellent and antibacterial properties, potentially allowing the wearer to use the shirt more than once!
We started by ordering 100 meters of the fabric (which we knew in advance would be very hard to negotiate with a mill, because of the low quantity, but our partners were very helpful in this step) and used it to make several batches of sample shirts. With each batch we made changes to the product based on the feedback we collected from testers, our own experience and that of our manufacturing partner.
We started by making a batch of 25 shirts which we gave out to friends and family with the intention to have a very close line of communication and to quickly collect feedback, so we can proceed with the iterations.
- Adjust cuff sizes with a slight allowance for a watch
- Taylor a more fitted sleeve for a more modern look
- Cut away more fabric at the base of the sleeve where it connects with the cuffs
- Implement removable collar stays
- More sleeve adjustments — reduced length
- Reduce fabric from the front and back of the shirt to allow for a more aesthetic look when worn untucked
- Collar adjustments related to size, style and sturdiness
We started thinking about packaging from the very beginning. It was clear that we wanted to deliver a high-quality, premium experience. Fortunately, mine and Julian’s visions for the packaging were aligned and we quickly found our favorite design and proceeded to brief the designer about it. After a few weeks of a little back and forth we had received our final graphic package for the box. Next, we discussed with our supplier and from there on — we agreed on the price and quantities to be produced.
In addition, we decided on adding a small booklet to go along with the shirt — something to help communicate the most important benefits our product provides. The process here was very similar to that for the box. First, we spent some time conceptualising and then writing the copy for it. Next, we shipped all of this information in a brief to our designer. A few weeks later, we had a ready design to send to the printers.
Reflecting on the whole process and comparing it to others who have shared a similar experience, it seems that our thinking and actions have been pretty much in line with best practices — all of that without any prior experience in the textiles, manufacturing or clothing industries. In fact, the more we talk with people who have had a similar experience about our process, the more we become convinced that there are certain cross-disciplinary and cross-industry principles that can be applied in almost every situation related to product development. Of course, none of this would be possible if it weren’t for our supplier — who has been of tremendous help, guidance and resourcefulness.
P.S. Thank you for your time! Please give a few 👏 and/or leave a comment. It means a lot us and helps other people hear about our journey!