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Lost in Translation in the Fashion Jungle

November 14, 2013

The Many Perspectives of Fashion

When I lived in Dallas, Texas, I worked for a fashion show producer for four years. I started as a humble dresser in the tents with the chaos of model changes and clueless dressers. I worked my way up to become the runner, managing the models in the tents, making sure the dressers got the models into their looks to make their cues in the lineup on time. A year after that, I became the first assistant to the event producer, casting models, conceptualizing the show, and managing the logistics of the “script” for how the run of show would take place, both in front of stage and back stage. With so many moving parts mistakes happen and obstacles arise happen.

I distinctly remember a fashion show with Barney’s where a stylist completely destroyed the order of the models for the presentation. What has to be kept in mind is that some models looks take less time to get into their garments than others, and just because a model is ready before another one does not mean that she walks the runway in that order. The models were out of order, and chaos ensued backstage. The lack of control is torrential and can dramatically and negatively affect the presentation on the image of who is being presented.

I also worked as a textile designer for a womenswear company and the buyer from Dillard’s always was a nightmare, because of the lack of communication between the design team and her. I also strongly believed that the unprofessional presentation was the reason for why time and energy was wasted on a constant basis to redo, redesign, recolor, etc. to please the buyer.

If a fashion presentation tool existed for complete transparency in those situations so that ALL involved would know what pieces are moving and where they are moving, designers would have a completely interactive, professional presentation for their buyers in the hopes that they might buy more. A scenario where everyone wins.

 

Initial Prototyping

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I identified four users: the designer and buyer (the focused symbiotic relationship), and the photographer and event producer (the supporting roles in capturing and relaying the information from the designer to the buyer). In this version of the prototype I drew out quickly what each user’s main interface would be. I thought through what each of their essential needs would be and the mental model of each in the context of not only producing a show, but designing the collection, and photographing it. And of course, how the buyer would interact with all of this pre-show preparation.

 

 

In this prototype, I realized how ambitious this project was going to be. With so many users and too many features, the purest form of the interaction became lost in translation. Per the recommendation of the professor, he suggested I create a “line of visibility” graph to really understand the backstage interactions and the customer (the buyer’s) needs. This graph was also aimed to help me understand at what times interactions were taking place with both sides to understand what needed to happen at specific times.

 

Timeline of Visibility

 

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In this draft of my “line of visibility”, I decided to also include time as a factor in such a complicated system. With this graph, I was able to really hone in on the purest need of each user, and how involved their interaction was in the deliverance of the garment information to the buyer.

 

This became the foundation for everything you see from this point on.

 

 

Paper Prototype

I spent time developing a mid-fidelity visual of the digital tool in Adobe Illustrator. Creating these and then printing them afforded me the ability to write all over them identify missing pieces. I would simulate with the printouts as each individual user and ask myself questions such as, “After I’ve done this action, how has this affected the system as a whole?”, “Do I want to see this button?”, “Does this action feel natural?”, and “Is the visual representation of this prototype superseding the interactions, or supporting them?”

From these printouts, and a critical analysis of the second prototype, I created an interactive third prototype to demonstrate the functions and features of the program. It is a boiled down and pure representation of the tool, and I think it shows just enough of
functioning features to accomplish all users goals whilst accommodating their needs.

 

Click the pic and check out the video o the final product!

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Johnathan Hayden engages Interaction Design approaches that facilitate a balanced design process of market needs and wants..