December 03, 2015
From day one Inspected's focus was on music, it's the DNA of our brand and those who work with us. However as time went on we wanted to shift some of our focus on something tangible, almost a physical representation of the mostly intangible digital world of music. As time went on the business ran two vertices in tandem, the music and the clothing, no easy task as both sides of the business require vastly different approaches. We realise our fans want content around our artists, their music and shows, however there may also be those of you who are interested in design and fashion. For those who are interested in a career in design and/or fashion, a background on a small independent clothing brand based in London is something we're here to explore.
'Quality over quantity'
It's easy to assume that as a clothing label all of our efforts would be focused on creating as many concepts as we possibly can in a short window of time, a 'shotgun' approach much larger brands have the time, money and resources to adopt. Our approach is different, we hone in on a handful of products for each collection. For example our product design team will decide that a winter collection will focus on; t-shirts, beanies and jackets and create only 2 or 3 concepts for each. This approach gives us a much more focused progression, allowing us to free up more time to source new materials, think about the marketing and a general idea on quantity and exclusivity.
'A manual process'
Every creative business will go through a process of sketching or doodling dozens of concepts for a particular product or service, and we're no different. Our Creative Director, Ryan Leech, will hand draw rough concepts for t-shirts, snapbacks, wallets, jackets, coats, etc. The cornerstone of our business is collaboration, so after Ryan has a notebook full of ideas he takes these back to our Creative Lead Kasper Plougmand for further discussion. This is generally where the conversations get interesting as we then consider; material, stitching, sizes, quantities, quality, durability and whether it fits with the rest of the collection. At any stage one of those aspects can scrap the entire product, for example a crazy idea might not be possible due to the limitations of the materials we can source.
'Everything has a place'
At this stage we have our 2-3 concepts for each type of product we've decided to include in that collection. These ideas are then digitally constructed, printed and reviewed to decide whether they all have a place within the collection. This is the process that takes the vast majority of our time, the smallest detail such as the weighting of thread in the stitching in a snapback could cause us to drop the product and start the process again. Other than individual elements of a product, we have also often decided to drop complete product lines out of a collection, i.e. iPhone/Samsung phone cases. This could be due to their design not fitting with that of the clothing or simply because the product isn't refined enough for us to release.
'Prototyping is King'
After several internal debates, tables covered in clothing swatches and walls plastered with printed concepts, we finally decide on which products we will get prototyped. As any clothing label will tell you prototyping does not come cheap if it's externally fulfilled like ours, therefore it's always a calculated risk we take. We submit our design to the manufacturer who will then create a one-off, a few nervous days later the product arrives in all sizes for us to tear apart. We look at craftsmanship, material detail, material defects, how the material looks in different lights, the fit, and it's durability. Again, like the design stage, a failure in any of those points could cause the expensive prototype of either be re-designed, re-spec'd or completely scrapped.
'A collection is born'
A few months later we have our prototyped collection ready, verified by all the tests I mentioned earlier. At this stage we do a rough product shoot to see how they work together, theoretically from our design and prototyping stages everything should work together. Once we're happy we then take them off for studio and location photography by the incredibly talented Tom Barnes who has worked with the likes of Bring Me the Horizon, Chase and Status, Sam Smith and a whole lot more. As soon as the photography has been edited the product listings are created on our website along with the item descriptions, specs, prices, etc.
At this stage there's no going back, we have our stock delivered and a release date scheduled. We co-ordinate our social media campaigns with a mail outs to maximise the coverage we can get on an announcement. Often we include bonuses such as free delivery over £100 or 10% off for a limited time, this is something that is discussed in great detail to provide our customers with as much value as can afford to give. As soon as the collection has gone on sale we then wait for the feedback to come rolling in, and every single time we're humbled by the comments we receive. It's the feedback we receive after release that drives our next collection, something we don't often see in our competition is the connection we have with our customers, that is truly what makes Inspected who we are today.
Of course with any small to medium size business the process above is dynamic. We have people who come and go who can often impact the way we usually work. However as a rule of thumb we keep true to this flow, so far it's allowed our small team to be able to express themselves outside of music. The endless pride we feel when seeing someone in a supermarket wearing an Inspected t-shirt or someone wearing an Inspected snapback at a gig is what makes us continue doing what we do.
- Inspected x