When I first started Mixed, my design “process” was pretty much nonexistent. It was more like throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what would stick. Now, with more time, experience and bandwidth, I’ve been able to refine my design process and approach it with more thought. The creative process is all about iteration—our first go at things will never be our best, but we can’t allow that to stop us from sharing our work with the world. We have to start somewhere, and with each iteration, we can distill, improve, refine. With 5 collections under my belt and my 6th launching in 1 week, I’m excited to share a behind the scenes look at the F23 design process:
My process begins by pulling inspiration—sometimes that comes from observing the style on the streets of New York, sometimes it comes from studying other garments, and sometimes it comes from discovering a color palette I can’t get over. I had my sights set on suits for the fall, so the F23 design process started with studying a variety of different suits, taking note of how various design elements contributed to the style of each garment, and making a few quick sketches. I wanted to design a suit that could be worn to a cocktail party or a conference—I wanted it to say style, not business casual. I also wanted it to be able to be dressed up with a heel or down with a sneaker, worn as a set or as separates. If you know Mixed, you know we love versatility. With plenty of inspiration to work with, I started to flesh out my ideas for the 3 major design elements of each garment: silhouette, material, and print.
Silhouette & Material
I started sketching silhouettes in more detail, adding notes to the margins of the page, and keeping in mind the practical constraints that the material would impose on the silhouette. I wanted to design a sharp, striking suit with a relaxed fit and clean silhouette with minimal trims that would allow the print to shine. To achieve that, I needed to work with a material that had both drape and structure. From a function and fit perspective, I wanted the material to contain a comfortable degree of stretch as well.
Designing the prints for each collection is where I find my flow. I started by creating a color story, inspired by hues of the season—burnt orange, berry red, match green and cool blue. With a color palette to keep the collection cohesive, I like to let my hand start drawing freely, improvising strokes until an interesting shape or motif appears. Once I’ve landed on a motif, I play around with ways to make it more abstract with color, brush strokes, or scale. Once I’m onto something with a print, I know it—I feel it. I just keep my head down and draw as time melts away around me.
With the sketches and vision complete, I traveled to our factory and worked with our production team to develop the first sample, detailing what the garment should look and feel like and how it should fit and drape. This step between translating a 2D sketch into a physical sample is critically important. This is where it’s helpful to have a detailed sketch and a strong understanding of material. I’ve found that, with time, your production team or sample maker gets a better sense for your design aesthetic and therefore, the process becomes smoother and the vision more easy to translate.
Sampling & Production
Receiving the first sample is probably my favorite part in the design process—it’s that first moment I get to see my initial vision come to life. When a sample arrives, I try on each piece and study it in the mirror. I spend some time wearing it to see if any fit issues arise. Now, it’s time to iterate. The first sample of our suits included tapering at the waist of the blazer, which gave it a dated look that I hated. Bye-bye taper! Then the length of the blazer was also too short, which gave it a business-casual feel that I wasn’t looking for, so I added an inch and a half of length to the blazer to give it a more relaxed style. During one of these sessions, Kassandra suggested inner pockets instead of outer pockets for added function and elevation. Then Jasmin pointed to one of the prints and thought it would look good in velvet—my thoughts exactly. After making changes to the initial sample, I shared the feedback with our production team and they created a new sample. After a couple more iterations, we created the final sample that checked all the boxes and the suits went into limited quantity production!