Sportswear design is much more complex than fashion design.
Fashion is all about style, fit, touch and colour. Sportswear design is about all of the above but most importantly it’s about function.
Fashion is about covering the body to give you protection from the elements and from the local constabulary from locking you up from indecent exposure. Sportswear is also about covering the body and protecting you from the elements but its also about providing a level of performance you need to enjoy the aerobic activity you are doing.
Sportswear design is therefore approached is a very different way to fashion design. We look at the needs of the athlete and work out how we can help manage their comfort in the conditions they are performing or the activity they choose to participate in.
We then select fibres that will provide the best performance and create bespoke fabrics where an off the shelf fabric is not suitable. This bespoke fabric we call the core ingredients to the product as if these are wrong, the athlete will no longer feel comfortable and will stop enjoying their sport. Get it right and the athlete is not aware of the garment and allows them to focus purely on their sport.
We then move onto the features of the garment. We create a list of required features each garment requires based on the athletes needs and start to build these into the design. These features need to work first and look great second. If they don’t work, then they are useless and create issues for the athlete.
Only after these features have been designed do we progress to the style. This is where we become “fashion designers” and create the piece based on the target consumer and the brands identity while following any key fashion trends that are relevant.
Finally we add colour, again based on trends but also keeping it relevant to the sports requirements.
Sportswear design takes a further step being that the prototypes then need to be tested to make sure they work correctly and there are no issues. This is something that never happens in fashion as the only requirement within fashion is make sure the garment fits well. With sportswear we need to make sure the athlete is not restricted and the garment provides the required performance to keep the athlete comfortable. It also need to be durable as many athlete’s activities put more strain on their sports garments than their normal fashion wardrobe.
Only when the garment has been approved by the gear tester do we move onto the final stage of the design stage and sign off the specification ready for bulk production.