In the United States alone, we get four times more work done than our grand-parents in the 50s according to the United States Nonfarm Labour Productivity. It?s no secret businesses? productivity demands are increasing and a whole new stream of apps are helping maximise our output.
State of the art technology, software, AI, data processing and automated controls and more, allow us to work smarter, faster and in a more sophisticated way, adding important value to the company.
In the United States alone, we get four times more work done than our grand-parents in the 50s according to the United States Nonfarm Labour Productivity.
But, with more than 4 million software, browser extensions, phone & tablet apps to choose from, it can get overwhelming. So how do you select the best of the best for productivity? And there?s always going to be something new to optimise our ROI (Return On Investment: I know you are a creative lot !).
Then why are there so many designers wasting unnecessary hours at work when there are solutions available for them? Why are they implementing outdated teachings from design schools? I met with many fashion designers,and they were shocked to learn about the huge leaps technology has made to better their work.
Check out some of the most useful tools every designer needs today:
Pinterest works like a digital MOOD-BOARD. At the beginning of every season, the inspirations are collected and transformed into multi-billion fashion products. It?s easy to find a good collection of images compared to google image search or Flickr because most images are curated and are put in collections by other users, which is the most time-consuming task. You can also choose to keep your mood-boards private.
Price: Pinterest is FREE to use for most part with few exceptions such as creating ads. Works best on Chrome, Firefox and Safari web browsers.
Until, five years ago or so, Adobe illustrator was king in the world of creative software, but now Sketch has changed that.
Sketch is giving Illustrator a run for its money thanks to its fast, intuitive interface and broad array of plugins. In addition, there?s a great offer by third-party developers who continue to create amazing features to extend the functionality of Sketch. It?s a great fit for young/up-and-coming designers.
Price: One time licensing fees of US$99 which makes it much cheaper then any of it?s competitors. Works only on Mac OSX.
3. Adobe Illustrator
Adobe?s dominance has made it almost impossible to work without using Creative Suite. Designers use Illustrator to draw flat sketches with callouts for construction and styling details. Then these are used in tech packs so the team and manufacturers can easily understand and follow.
There are great resources available for Illustrator newbies. You can join free webinars and classes at Fashion Classroom or Sew Heidi, for instance. But there are many more, youtube alone has a myriad of free tutorials. Another options is to take lots of photos if you?d rather not do functional sketches.. I made this quick attempt to create a tech pack (specification) without using illustrator in less than 5 minutes..
Price: Free 1 month trial and thereafter US$29.99/mo. Works best on Mac OSX and Windows 10 and above.
Slack is a communication platform that allows team members to work in organized groups or easily searchable one-on-one conversation threads. Slack has been widely adopted by both smaller and larger teams, and unlike those boring and ugly softwares, it brings a fresh approach to sharing files and communication.
?Communication is one of the things that causes tension in an organization, and we wanted to relax that,? Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack said on Beta Creative.
Why is Slack powerful for fashion designers? Its integration with tools like Google Drive, Dropbox and over 1,000 other applications allow for access to almost everything from a single platform.
Price: Slack is free to use until 5GB space and thereafter US$8 /mo. Works best on chrome, firefox and safari browser.
Tech packs (or specification sheets) were one the most time consuming tasks for designers. Almost everyone has a story of endless frustrations of creating flat sketches, condensed wordings to fit in a format, errors and repeated data-entry and correcting measurement numbers?.grrrrr !
Techpacker stepped up to the challenge of tech pack optimization. Now this creating tech packs is a much easier, friendly and efficient process. We even dare say its now enjoyable for designers.
By breaking down tech packs into ?cards,? the process of creating tech packs becomes simple, visual, collaborative and 70% faster. The beauty of cards is that you can copy, move, reuse, connect and do countless things with them. You can bring your entire team or manufacturers on Techpacker and integrate with other apps to make it super powerful.
Price: Free 7days trial and thereafter US$29/mo. Works best on Chrome, Firefox and Safari web browsers.
Bloomberg reported last month that Instagram killed the retail store. It may sound dramatic but this low-budget, social-media approach has produced many success stories, and in contrast, high-street brands are loosing sales and closing down.
Why is Instagram so great for fashion designers?
Just like Pinterest, Instagram is also full of curated images posted from people around the world. So it?s a great resource to collect inspiration with social approval (likes and comments) that gives a quick idea on what your ideal customers like.
Price: Instagram is FREE to use for most part with few exceptions such as creating ads. Works best on smart-phones.
7. Pantone Color Finder
Pantone?s innovative system of matching, communicating and identifying colors has made it easier for designers to work together with manufacturers. But, as with everything digital, there are more efficient ways to find that colour you need without it being super time consuming:
If you are a Google Chrome or Firefox user, this simple extension with Color Picker and Eye Dropper will assist you finding color reading as RGB. You can then use Pantone?s Color Finder to translate into the nearest Pantone number. You can also use Pantone color App for i-phones and Android based phones where once a photo is chosen the Pantone Color App exports color values directly.
Price: Both Colorzilla Eye Dropper and Pantone Color Finder are FREE to use. They work best on Chrome, Firefox and smartphone.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows you to easily set up an online store and start selling. It lets you customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders ? all with a few clicks. It powers over 350,000 businesses and over 1,000 Enterprise Plus customers.
Why is Shopify is great for fashion companies?
It?s simple, clean, easy to use and integrates easily with other platforms like Amazon and Facebook so you can do everything from one place. Price: 7 Days free trial, thereafter US$29 per month.
9. Makers Row
If finding a manufacturer specific to your product categories is hard, finding a good one is even harder. So if you are specifically looking for a manufacturer in the US with crowd-sourced reviews then Makers Row could be useful. They have a fairly decent list of about 3,900 apparel and accessories related makers that are clearly sorted by categories and rating.
However, many products still can?t be produced in the US. If you are looking for lower manufacturing costs and a greater number of manufacturers to choose from, then Global sources is a good resource as they put a lot of effort in listing factories that meet higher standards compared to it?s direct competitor Alibaba (another listing website).
Brandboom is a wholesale e-commerce platform to create clean Line sheets, get orders directly from retailers & receive payments in simple steps. After setting up your line sheet, you can directly send a link to your buyers and showrooms so they can book directly and can also pay. This will avoid so many back-&-forth communication and missing critical sku/sizes etc. If you are making line-sheets manually using Adobe indesign and adding it on Excel docs, then you know how painful the process can be and how hard it is to keep it up-to-date.
In addition, BrandBoom has top customer service as they are always available by phone, so setup is pretty fast.
Price: Free with limits and thereafter US$79/mo. Works best on Chrome, Firefox and Safari web browsers.
If you are looking for a futuristic pattern making software, or a way to visualize your sketches in 3D so you can eliminate at-least one sample, then you can checkout CLO 3D.
It begins by picking-up a 3D body ? avatar or dress form, available in different shapes and sizes. Then either import your own patterns or draw them from scratch directly in CLO. Finally, pair each seam of the garment, and select fabric to see them all coming together in 3D. You can then fine-tune your designs in real-time and adjust the pattern.
Price: FREE 1 month trial and thereafter US$99/mo. Works best on OSX and Windows 10 and over.
12. Business of Fashion
If you want to be in the know of what?s happening in your industry, The Business of Fashion is an essential read. It is the leading daily resource for fashion creatives, executives and entrepreneurs in over 200 countries.
The website boasts a network of renowned journalists and fashion insiders in style capitals around the world covering from breaking news to in-depth reports in business intelligence, emerging designers, disruptive technologies, retail, marketing, global markets, manufacturing, sustainability, fashion week and everything you need to know about the movers and shakers of the fashion industry.
It?s free to register allowing you to access 5 free articles a month. But the premium membership allows full access to articles including exclusive features, briefings & archive and print editions. If paid annually it?s around $20 a month. They offer student and company discounts, so take a look to see what works best for you.
13. Zapier & Workflow
With so many apps the challenge is to move data around and communicating among them. We found Zapier is the best way (for web) and Workflow (for i-phones).
It connects more than 750 web apps for you so you can create workflows and automate tasks in the background. This allows you to focus on more important work. There are thousands of pre-available workflows such as resizing images and adding to dropbox automatically.
And finally, an accounting software that you may need if you?re the sole owner of your brand. Xero is a cloud based software company that develops cloud-based accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses.
QuickBooks has dominated the accounting software market for years however Xero is rapidly expanding in this category. Xero now serves over 1 million businesses in more than 100 countries. The company claims to provide ?Beautiful Accounting,? focusing on ease of use, solid functionality, and an ambitious development schedule ? product updates come out every 3?6 weeks.
I hope that by using these tools, you?ll get through your work faster and go home early to spend quality time with your family, pets and loved ones. Any apps and tools that I missed? We?d love to learn about your favorite ones! Shoot us an email or comment below.
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