Product Development, the happy medium between Design & Production. The perfect position, if you enjoy being creative, but don’t want to be a designer.
WHAT DOES A PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR DO?
Well, Product Development or PD for short, works with Design and Merchandising to help develop collections for the upcoming seasons. In an earlier post, I talked about how Merchandising forecasts trends which, they communicate to Design. Well, PD is the liaison between Design and Merchandising. They help to reel in design when they go off script with the expectations of design concepts and raw material expenses.
LAB DIPS & DESIGN CARDS
Like Production, they communicate with overseas mills to follow-up on the various phases of development. However, the daily requirements depend on the product. For example, the tasks of women’s apparel will vary with women’s handbags. In my experience, lab dip approvals are the norm, but working with handbags, I have done DTM (Dyed To Match) threads and Edgestains (color stain used to finish raw edges of leather) in addition to color approvals. Design cards are essential because it will give instructions to the manufacturer on the placements of fabric or finishes while a complete representation of the finished concept on paper. It can be used to cross check the samples to see if all items are placed correctly.
Product Development is responsible for calculating the pricing for all materials used to make a product. This is the phase where the “higher-ups” will determine which products make the cut based on final costs or feasibility.
Let’s say that there is a particular type of button that Design chose to place on a blouse. However, the price per button is 49 cents. The blouse has a total of 8 buttons which would make the overall cost of the finishes $3.92. If our target expense per shirt is $15, we must figure out how to lower the cost to increase the profit margin for the company. Changing the fabric could compromise the quality of the finished product, therefore, the only viable option is to replace the buttons. The goal is to find buttons that are similar in appearance and quality at a lower price. In our quest to find an alternative, we happen to find a button that is 36 cents. I know, you are thinking 13 cents isn’t much, but it will be a huge help in keeping costs down. There will be a saving $1.04 per garment. This mathematics goes back to my post on wholesale and retail.
Once all products are finalized, this is the phase where items are put into production to be placed in stores. PD reviews the samples with Merchandising to check workmanship and details of the product. If there are issues, they will be noted by Merchandising to let buyers know that further changes will be made to perfect the product.
Not every fashion brand has a Product Development team. Many smaller companies will have production perform these tasks, while others will blend the responsibilities of the position with Merchandising. Here are is the career potential in PD:
Product Development Coordinator
Product Development Manager
Senior Manager Product Development
Director of Product Development
Senior Director Of Product Development
I LOVE design, but I can say that I enjoy Product Development. Do you think Product Development might be for you? Leave me a comment below.
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