As the designer – and let's be honest, as the number-one customer of my products – I am very invested in the fit, quality, and feel of the fabrics used for each and every Diane Kennedy garment. Much like a brewer crafting a specialty beer, or a chef creating a gourmet meal, I take a very hands-on approach to the entire design process. This post is the first in a series to explain the steps and processes that take a garment from conception to customer.
Colour is a huge motivator for me, and it is certainly one of the first things I look for when choosing a fabric. My thought process often starts with the colours I want to wear and what looks good on me. Choosing fabrics and colours is definitely one of my favourite parts of my job. I love to use natural fabrics like bamboo as much as possible because I’m a big fan of how these fabrics feel on my body.
When making choices, I have three primary considerations: quality, feel, and origin. As you might know, approximately 85% of the fabric we use is manufactured in Canada. When I compare Canadian-made to what is made elsewhere, there's a very big difference. While we do choose a small percentage of offshore fabrics, we pay attention to a manufacturer’s ethics, and our decisions are also based on whether the fabrics are organic.
After choosing a collection of fabrics and roughing out my ideas, I frequently design my garments while making patterns. Unlike many designers who complete full sketches of new designs, many Diane Kennedy styles coalesce during the pattern-making process. I see the flow of the seam lines and look at how the shapes work together, and these elements play an important role in determining the finished design. The design and pattern often morph intuitively as I work.
Whether I make the pattern myself, or give it to my assistant, we always create both a plus-size and regular-size test garment before going into final production; therefore, we create two patterns for each style. My design assistant sews prototypes of the garment, and they’re fitted on a body of each size. Adjustments are made, allowing us to achieve a final pattern.
After the colors, patterns, and designs are chosen, a local factory produces a sample of the garment. Our sales agents use these samples to sell Diane Kennedy designs to retailers across North America.
Now that you’ve had a glimpse into the creative process, above is a sneak peek of the spring designs and fabrics we’re preparing for you.