The importance of design research

The creative industries survive on the ability to generate ideas that excel and innovate. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of fashion. In order to succeed as a designer, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of the market and be able to make informed predictions about future trends. Research is fundamental to this and is a key element of all stages of the design process.


Finding inspiration through research

Every season, designers stay up to date with trends and find their inspiration by undertaking primary and secondary research. This is one of the most exciting times in the design process because the designer is starting from the beginning and can be at their most creative. Some designers start with fabrics, spending hours looking through hangers, walking around fabric stores and discussing new fabrics with vendors. Others investigate themes – a childhood memory, ethnic and cultural clothes or a museum visit – and submerge themselves in areas they find interesting. Nature, vintage shops and archives are all locations that can be used to search for images, colours and details which can be sources of inspiration.


Combining primary and secondary research

Designers will then cross-reference their ideas with secondary sources, such as what other designers have created before them; trends and colour predictions for the previous and upcoming years; where sales are strongest; what their competitors are producing and what the latest fabric technology is.

Without combining primary and secondary research, ideas cannot be taken further than the initial generation stage. When ideas are combined with this research, designers start to explore the routes to transform these ideas into reality. This process can inspire a designer even further as they never know how far they will end up developing their ideas. This is the stage where great designers thrive – they are not afraid to experiment, innovate and bring ideas to life which no one has previously seen or imagined.


Research is a fundamental part of the design process

The design process helps the designer to generate an initial idea and take it all the way to the final design.

·      They start with a design brief and a customer profile, allowing them to assess what their objective is and who their collection will be designed for

·      The next step is to carry out research for the brief

·      This research is then compiled and a comprehensive theme is created. This might require the designers to carry out further research once they have decided on their main theme. Throughout this time, designers will play with the ideas which their research has inspired – many take themselves away and create music or paint, others surround themselves with people to bounce their ideas off.


Enjoy the research you carry out in your assignments and use it as the chance to create and be inspired. Please let us know your favourite part of the research process.

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Written by: Michelle Howard

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