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Drapers Fashion Forum: How to create a bestselling product

Fashion businesses shared their secrets for creating a bestselling product at the 2015 Drapers Fashion Forum.

Debenhams head of quality assurance Fiona Graham and Closet London sales director CJ Basra joined Lectra executive vice president of sales Édouard Macquin onstage at the event, which was held at 30 Euston Square in London today (November 19).

Graham said meeting customer demand is “a different challenge every day”, but added that the key is “getting the product quickly to the market to fit as many people as we can and  getting it there at the right price”.

Basra added that relaying customer feedback to the company’s design team is key to producing sell-out items.  

“We’re constantly reminded of the mantra ’The customer is always right’, so listen to the customer,” he said. “When we’re told to repeat something, we translate that down to the design team. The customers wants more length; they want this colour, that colour. 

“The biggest challenge is finding out what the customer wants and then filtering that information down to the design team.”

However, Basra also warned that paying too much attention to a bestseller can be bad for business: “Everyone is looking for that product that sells and sells and sells, but when we get that product we have to be careful because it can direct the whole company in the wrong direction. 

“We have to understand the attributes of what makes a bestseller. Is it the look and feel of the garment? Is it the fabrication? Is it the fit? How a woman feels when she wears it? The compliments she gets?

“I don’t think there’s a recipe. You have to understand once you’ve got the data of a bestseller what to do with it. Do you churn out a thousand of the same style, do you keep the product lean or do you replicate it in different colours or fabrications? 

“You can keep going on forever; it’s about finding that right balance and knowing when to stop.”

Both agreed that having a streamlined product development system and strong supplier relations is key to being able to deliver a consistent product and respond to demand quickly and cost-effectively.

“The key for us in product development at the moment is technology,” said Graham. “We’re really investigating all the technology available to refine our development process.”

“We predominately manufacture in the UK, so for us it’s about having face-to-face communication with our factories and suppliers and streamlining the processes they’ve got in place,” added Basra.

Both said they were looking to incorporate Lectra’s 3D product development and pattern-making software as part of plans to streamline their processes and cut down on sampling.

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