The Kettlewell Design Journey
From the initial spark of an idea, right through to the finished design, an item of Kettlewell clothing goes through many carefully considered stages in its long journey to production. Melissa walks us through the steps…
Step 1. Researching new outfit ideas
Having looked at previous bestsellers, considered which styles work best in a particular fabric, and taken on board customer feedback, we send sketches and specifications to our factories (we’re working a year ahead with this now for AW21).
Step 2 Designing prints
Prints are a big part of each collection for Kettlewell, whether it’s geometrics for minimalists, animal print for naturals or florals for romantics. When we’ve settled on a selection of prints that work well together, we choose the colourways for the four seasonal palettes.
Step 3 Choosing colours
There’s no more important task for the design team than making sure each seasonal and tonal palette has a good range of colours to choose from. We scour page after page of Pantone books for new shades and use our trusty Pantone reader to identify any gorgeous colours we’ve spotted, before sending them off to the factory for lab dipping (you might be interested to know that we’re currently at this, and the sample stage, below, for SS21).
Step 4 Receiving samples
Having tried on the first fit samples and made any necessary amendments, the factory then sends a second sample. It’s at this point that we can decide to either go with the design, adjust it with a tweak, say, of the neckline or sleeve length, or as sometimes happens, drop it from the collection entirely. I’ll then put in the quantities per colour per size, and place my orders.
Step 5 Photo shoot samples arrive
It’s camera, lights, action – and the culmination of weeks of pre-shoot planning and model casting for our stylist Keira as the catalogue shoot gets underway. Having chosen images that show our clothes off to their best advantage, as well as some rigorous colour matching, the catalogue is designed and sent off to the printers.
Step 6 Production fabrics arrive
Next, the long, painstaking task of coding the fabrics into the different seasonal and tonal palettes begins. It’s a specialist job and a 5% difference from lab dip to production can mean that a fabric in a borderline colour can shift from warm to cool, for example, and the coding will have to change.
Step 7 Signing off pre-production samples
This is one of the most exciting – and nerve-wracking – parts of the design process. Once the sample is deemed perfect, the factory cuts and there’s no going back!
Step 8 The factory visit
Each season, I’ll visit our factories in Portugal and Turkey to check the production, try everything on, and make sure the clothes are up to the high standards our customers have come to expect. We have a great relationship with our factories and are always impressed with their working environment. Many of their employees have been with them for 20 years.
Step 9 Delivery day
AKA John’s favourite day! The new collection arrives in the warehouse. This season the deliveries will be staggered, but don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated with new arrivals in our e-newsletters.
Step 10 The collection launches
The long-anticipated collection goes live on the website and the catalogue mails. For Becky and the sales team it means one thing: busy, busy, busy. Picked and packed and collected by Royal Mail, your Kettlewell garment has come to the end of its journey and is about to find a colourful new home in your wardrobe.