Businesses around the world are demanding higher productivity from their employees. The United States has reached all-time high labor productivity as we get 4 times more work done than our grandparents in 1950.
Technology has contributed to most of our productivity. With software, information communication, data processing, and automated control, it has made us a smart and sophisticated workforce to our value-added enterprises.
But, with more than 4 million software, browser extensions, phone & tablet apps to choose from, it can get overwhelming. In this blog post, we will suggest 15 apps that will make your work much easier, faster, smarter, and profitable. In short, better ROI (Return on Investment).
These apps are divided into 5 categories that will walk you through all stages of building a product. These stages include sources for fashion inspiration, applications used for product design, product development apps, manufacturing and marketing. So this is basically the A-Z guide for your entire product development process.
What is the very first step of the product design? It is getting inspired by something! It doesn't necessarily have to be a piece of clothing, it could be a mood board, movie, or a piece of art. Here is a list of our suggested sources to get inspiration from.
WGSN is a trend forecasting platform. It constantly monitors how consumers think, feel, and behave. Their experts help brands stay relevant by predicting the products, experiences, and services people will need in the future. WGSN's network of industry experts provides inspiration to a community of over 43,000 product designers and thought leaders in 32 global markets.
Price: Free registration
Art will always be the biggest source of inspiration in the fashion world. The Art Authority app lets you browse over 100,000+ paintings and sculptures by 1,500 of the Western world’s leading artists from ancient times to today. Their visual library is easy to access and use for every designer.
Take inspiration from other designers' collections! Vogue Runway is an app created by the world's leading fashion publisher. And it offers unlimited access to the world’s latest collections. Their archive contains over 1 million runway images from over 12,000 fashion shows including the new ones and old ones from way back to the 2000s.
Other apps for fashion inspiration: Pinterest, Business of Fashion, Instagram, The Hunt.
Fashion design includes sketching an initial idea and technical specifications. The old-school method of sketching on paper is outdated. These apps will help you sketch your designs fast and customize them on the go.
Fashion and technical designers use Illustrator to draw flat sketches (or functional sketches) with callouts for construction and styling details to put them in tech packs so your team and manufacturer can easily understand and follow.
If you are new to illustrator then there are some great resources available. You can join free webinars and training classes from Fashion Classroom or Sew Heidi.
You don't always have to draw technical sketches from scratch for all your fashion projects. Apps like Repsketch allow you to re-purpose and customize existing sketches created by the community of top technical fashion designers.
Select from a variety of styles from tank tops to gowns and modify as you need. Quickly change the sleeve type, neckline, or add a logo to your garment. Download, embed, or simply share a public link of your designs with the world in web-friendly SVG format. Sign up for early beta access here.
Pret-A-Template is your digital sketchbook. It allows you to sketch your designs on iPhone or iPad. They offer over 500 templates to choose from, including bodies and details like shoes. Select from predefined skin, hair and makeup color pallets for quick success.
Price: Starts at $5.99
Other apps for fashion design to consider: Sketchbook, Corel Draw.
Product development includes the following stages: design, planning and developing products. It involves process of getting your fashion products ready to manufacture.
Tech packs (or specification sheets) used to be the most time-consuming tasks and every fashion designer will tell you the endless frustrations of creating flat sketches, condensed wordings to fit in a format, amendments, and repeated data entry and fixing those measurements numbers.... grrrr!
Techpacker took the challenge of making tech packs better, faster, and together. By breaking down tech packs into cards, the process of creating tech packs becomes simple, visual, collaborative and 70% faster. The beauty of cards is that you can copy, move, reuse, connect and do lots and lots of things with them. You can bring your entire team or manufacturers on Techpacker and integrate it with other apps to make it super powerful.
Price: Free 7 days trial and thereafter US$49/month
If you are looking for futuristic pattern-making software, or a way to visualize your sketches in 3D so you can eliminate at least one sample, then you can check out CLO 3D.
It begins by picking up a 3D body–avatar or dress form, available in different shapes and sizes. Then either import your own patterns or draw them from scratch directly in CLO. Finally, pair each seam of the garment, and select fabric to see them all coming together in 3D. You can then fine-tune your designs in real time and adjust the pattern.
Price: Free 1-month trial and thereafter US$99/month
Zapier & Workflow
With all these apps, the new challenge is moving data around and communicating between them so we found that the best way to do it is, Zapier (for web) and Workflow (for i-phones).
It connects more than 750 web apps for you so you can create workflows and automate tasks in the background and you can focus on more important work. There are thousands of pre-available workflows such as resizing images and adding to Dropbox automatically.
Price: Starting at $50/month
Other product development apps to consider - Slack, Pantone Color Finder.
Once the garment is designed and the prototype is created, it's time to produce it. Selecting and sourcing the right fabric and finding the right manufacturer are the starting points.
Finding a manufacturer specific to your product categories is hard. And finding a good one is even harder. You can start by asking around for references however it could be time-consuming. So if you are specifically looking for a manufacturer in the USA with crowd-sourced reviews then Makers Row could be useful. They have a fairly decent list of about 3,900 apparel and accessories-related makers that are clearly sorted by categories and rating.
But then, many products still can't be produced locally in the USA and what if you are looking for lower manufacturing costs and a greater number of manufacturers to choose from then Global sources is a good resource as they put a lot of effort into listing factories that meet higher standards compared to its direct competitor Alibaba (another listing website).
Price: Starts at $35/month
Swatchon is a wholesale fabric platform based in Seoul, South Korea. It ships to 52 countries and has 100000 fabrics to choose from online. This platform works with brands of all sizes allowing them to place an order as small as 3 yards, or up to 500,000 yards.
Price: Free for ready-to-wear businesses, $500 prepayment for everyone else.
Higg Co is a technology company that focuses on building tools that power sustainability measurement. Higg Co helps brands reduce energy use, combat audit fatigue, and safeguard those who work in the supply chain. Higg Materials Sustainability Index allows designers to create custom materials, and understand their environmental impact.
When the product is manufactured it's time to sell it! Using the following apps you will be able to build a website, create line sheets and market your business.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows you to easily set up an online store and start selling. It lets you customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders — all with a few clicks. It powers over 350,000 businesses and over 1,000 Enterprise Plus customers.
Price: 7 Days free trial, thereafter US$29 per month
Brandboom is a wholesale e-commerce platform to create clean Line sheets, get orders directly from retailers & receive payments in simple steps. After setting up your line sheet, you can directly send a link to your buyers and showrooms so they can book directly and can also pay. This will avoid so much back-&-forth communication and missing critical SKU/sizes etc.
Price: Free with limits and thereafter US$79/mo.
Garmentory is one of the top online marketplaces existing right now. It is an ultimate source of indie boutiques, emerging and contemporary designers. By setting up a store on their online platform Garmentory gives brands access to thousands of customers around the globe.
Boutiques and brands can submit their application on the Garmentory website and start selling after it's approved.
Other marketing apps to consider: Afterpay, Like to know it, Faire.