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This section is dedicated to giving you an insight into the way my mind works. The mind is a complicated muscle, which needs as much exercise as the body. Therefore you will find all sorts of thoughts, ideas and ways of working in this section.

I have always believed in sharing thoughts and ideas. From the smallest nugget of a concept, to a principled way of working and everything in between. Sharing enables conversation, where creative thoughts can be explored, upgraded and solidified into real projects.

So welcome to the conversation. . .

  • Writer's pictureJonn Langan

Why 2020 is the year that we all should speak out, open up and be there for each other.

October 31st 2019 - The day is finished my #runeveryday challenge and started my #movember challenge

Since I can remember I’ve analysed and questioned everything around me. I’ve never been afraid to change something in my life if I felt that it wasn’t working, but this does not mean that I am flippant or that my decisions do not impact my mental health, much the opposite.

I (like my father) am an analytical beast. I factor everything i can into my reasoning. From the physical, mental and practical elements that might affect and impact any decision I make. I do not take decisions lightly and I am proud that I can look at any decision i make from multiple angles (to make sure everyone around me is fairly considered).

As i’ve age up into my forties i’ve noticed that these questions and subsequent decisions have had more of an impact on me mentally than they used too. I can no longer stride out with the confidence of a younger man and push on to the next step in life so easily. But rather they hang heavy on my mind for longer, the guilt stays longer and I question my integrity to make decisions at times.

This is ever more present in the world’s current climate, where we are forced to question more than just our own career & life path, but also whether any path forward is possible when we do not control our environment. The understanding that the future is fragile, undetermined and seemingly random is a difficult prospect to accept for anyone, but accept it we must.

But accepting something does not mean that you should give up on your dreams, it should just act as a “check in” point for you to realign your expectations.

As humans we are naturally driven forward by our dreams, expectations and underlying principles, so when the world comes crashing down around us it can be hard to adapt and change. This drives many of us to be introverted and less confident that we can affect the world around us to achieve what we truly desire.

I am not afraid to let you all know that I am writing this as someone who is experiencing exactly this situation. I made a massive change in my life at the start of this year, when I decided to leave a job in which i earn’t more money than I ever had, where I was leading a team that I respected and appreciated, but where I wasn’t comfortable with the companies working practices. For the sake of my own mental health, I made the difficult decision to leave without something definite to move onto.

I left with my head held high and with confidence that I had made the right decision. This was until less than a month later the world decided to implode and the plans I had originally made turned to dust and disappeared. All the conversations, planning and dreams I thought I had under control were negated by a virus that stopped anyone from doing anything.

So, like the world, I stayed home, I trusted that there would be an end to this situation and I waited. . . and I waited.

In the 6+ months since I left i’ve been fortunate to connect, speak and converse with many different people, all experiencing the same situation, yet it is still immensely hard to accept that my dreams are not turning out as I had once thought they would.

When I left university back in 1998 I arrived into the world as an enthusiastic and determine apparel designer, full of ideas and motivated by my desire to change the world! I had a 5 year plan, a 10 year plan, a life plan!

Don’t get me wrong, life plans are good. They give you targets and goals to push yourself forward. But they also highlight when you don’t achieve your goals for any number of reasons.

I ditched my life plan many years ago, not because I wasn’t achieving my goals, but because I changed my goals. What you don’t learn growing up is that your perspective on life will change, sometimes multiple times in your life time, and that ok.

So in this current difficult situation it is easy to think that you have failed. that you are not up to the “job”, that you should forget your dreams. But to this I say no, you have not failed, you are better than you think you are, and your dreams are there waiting for you to grab them!

My 2019 #movember challenge was to do 200 press-ups a day

For the last 2 years I have done a challenge for the Movember Foundation to highlight various issues I believe in. From prostate cancer (both my Dad and my Grandad have had it), to testicular cancer, to mental health and suicide.

This year I want to step up my interaction with you all, as I feel that now more than ever we need to stand together to support each other. To say it’s ok to fail, to say its alright to realign your goals and it’s ok to not be ok.

Speaking up and being open is something that I have always been able to do. Not because I am super confident, an extrovert or egotistical, but because I care and am passionate about caring.

So in these uncertain times, if you or anybody around you needs support then I urge you to just reach out and have a chat. Share your thoughts and listen to others, as more people are struggling than you probably realise.

Jonn x

To donate to my Movember page, either go to the link below or scan the QR code

Jonn's Movember Page

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This article was originally posted in Ssachs Magazine as "7 steps to ensure the best 1st prototype possible, which goes into the best practice when "tech packing" your design. This extended version goes further to discuss the future of prototyping in a modern society.

So close, but yet so far. . .

The design and development process is full of micro stages which need to be approved, just to get to the starting point of the development of a sample. Therefore the importance of communication of the approved design to factory is vital, as this is when all the theory, sketches and initial concept work come together to create the final proof of concept.

Whether you design by hand sketching or on computer, you are probably going to exaggerate body shapes, add styling nuances and pose your design in interesting ways, all to get sign off on your design. This can be a huge amount of work and can go through many iterations to get to the conclusion, so it is an amazing feeling when your design is approved.

Unfortunately, In the world of manufacturing, you are only half way there. The next and biggest step you will then have to undertake is to communicate what you think to the manufacturer of the product. So you will then have to go through every element, every construction and every trim to make sure you can produce what has been sold to your team.

So making sure that this communication is done to the highest level of detail is understandably a tough task to get right, as often there is a language barrier as the recipient of the tech pack might be in an another country. So to help make sure you are showing only the most important information to the factory, here are the 7 steps to follow to ensure you will get the best 1st prototype:

Step 1 - Clean it up

Probably the most important piece of advice that I can offer, is to clean up your drawings. Keep them simple, clean and in poses that can be easily understood. For example, drawing the garment on a flat 2D plain, where the arms are extended out to the side will help a factory understand how the armhole and styling intersect. Removing stylised marks that were there to show fabric movement or body form will help make clear what is, and what isn’t a seam-line. Finally the best and most impactful step to take is to make sure you use consistent line weights and line textures, so that factories can easily pick out what each feature or detail is. For example, in illustrator I always use specific lines for different functions:

  • Outlines and panel pieces = 1point with rounded line type ends

  • Major trims (Zips, pocket welts etc. . ) = 0.5 point with rounded line type ends

  • Small trims (Buttons, snaps, velcro etc . . ) = 0.25 with rounded line type ends

  • Single line stitching = 0.5 point with a 2 / 1 spacing and rounded line type ends

  • Bar-tacks & eyelets = 1 point with a brush texture of a tight compact zig-zag line

  • Other stitching types (Cover-seam, twin needle etc . . ) = 1 point with a relevant sample of the brush texture

I know there will be some of you who are rolling your eyes into the back of your heads at the nerdy detail I go into here, but honestly the more discipline you put into creating your technical manufacturing drawings, the easier it will be for you to communicate your design correctly and ultimately get a great 1st prototype.

The key here is to set your rules whilst making sure the factory and your colleagues understand what your rules are. This way you will never have any of your technical drawings put into question.

Step 2 - An image tells a thousand words

Once you have a good technical drawing and you are happy that all is clear, you will need to drop this into a technical file. This technical file will then need to be accompanied by some additional information for the factory to fully understand the elements of the garment.

Therefore you will probably add text (and arrows pointing to specific areas of the garment). This is both a great way to communicate but also can be a stumbling block for a factory, as they will translate every single word into their local language.

So therefore a less is more approach is definitely the way to go, where information is given out in a concise manner. Be careful not to ramble, waffle or over explain constructions or details as this can only increase the chance of confusion. Stay away from colloquial phrases and try to use industry standard terms for construction techniques, and you will further find that you will have less questions and better prototypes.

Step 3 - Keep it to scale

Drawing details to show construction can be one of the best ways to communicate your design, but if you look at the main technical drawing of the front or back view you probably won’t be able to see close enough to view all the precise details. Some details can be left to interpretation by the factory, but if you want to own a particular detail then you are going to need to communicate this in some way.

One way to get this across is to draw a “zoomed” in version of the area of detail. This could be a zip pocket opening, a collar detail or just a set of key panel dimensions that you value as important to the design.

If you are going to the trouble of drawing these elements, then why not draw them to scale? This will give you 2 main advantages:

  1. You can print and cut out the details to see how well it works in reality. Is the size right? How does it look placed on a garment?

  2. This can be referenced directly by the factory when integrating it into the pattern pieces.

Often these drawings are bigger than a traditional printer, so they are placed as a scale drawings in the technical file with a scale reference noted, so the factory know the actual size to scale your drawing too.

Step 4 - Cross section construction

When it comes to complicated or difficult constructions it can be useful to reference a product, either that the factory has made before or one which you have a physical sample of. This way, the guessing game of how a detail is constructed can be eliminated from the conversation.

In the absence of either of these things, a good cross section drawing of the construction can go a long way to helping with the creation of the pattern and make up of the garment. Think of these drawings as more of a system of help to aid with construction and order of make, rather than a beautiful illustration of the area of interest.

You want to get across the importance of why you want something made in a particular way, so that it can be more easily integrated into the 1st prototype.

Step 5 - Reality vs Virtual

Ultimately, the best way to get a great 1st prototype is to make the 1st prototype your self. For many this is an impossibility due to not having those facilities, but there are some brands that will make a first prototype in house, before shipping said prototype (along with the pattern) to the manufacturer. This will ensure that mistakes in the initial pattern can be easily eliminated and focus can be put onto the details and finishing.

In the absence of the facility to make full prototypes, the next best thing is to make up details or features that could be easily mis-interpreted. You may have already created a “zoom” or cross section drawing of a feature, so why not make a mock up of the detail to see how it works. Does it function as you expected? Are the measurements correct in reality? Does it look as expected?

All in all you can see a trend here. The more you can show, create and communicate, the better the chance of getting a great 1st prototype from the factory, which in turn will further enhance the chances of the garment working successfully.

Step 6 - Layer up your file

This step is again a dive into the tech pack discipline. I preface this step with the understanding that not all tech packs are created in the same way or even on the same software, so there may be a little bit of nuance to the application of this one.

I have worked on many different CAD systems. from Corel Draw, to Freehand and for the last 15 years Illustrator & In-design. All of these programmes are vector based and allow for layers to be implemented. Layers are a way to hide and show information within a file, which can be very useful for sharing tech pack internally as well as externally.

So when creating a tech pack it is good practice to lock certain “template” information into the background or first layer. This will stop lines and text being moved around when you are adding and editing other information.

Then it is good practice to split the main drawings and text information between 2 different layers. This is so images can be easily isolated from the text (and background / template), as often images are needed to uploaded in other systems and / or screen grabbed for other usage.

Essentially think about how the file you create may be used in the future. Either by colleagues, other systems or maybe by the factory. The more you can make a tech file “modular” the easier it will be for each person to do their part in the development process.

Step 7 - Trust is a 2-way street

Finally the last step is simply to trust your collaborators. The design and development process is full of specialist abilities and techniques, so it is rare for just one person to be able to do everything to create a working prototype.

So simply check with your colleagues that what you have produced is understandable and clear. Take advice from them and use their skills where you think they can offer an additional level of detail. If you have access to a product developer, pattern cutter or materials specialist then make sure you use their skills and input to further enhance the level of detail.

Finally, knowing your factory’s capabilities and speaking to them before you send over tech pack information can also help sway the way you create a tech pack. Maybe they do not have the machinery needed to construct a garment the way you have imagined it, or they might have examples of the constructions they have successfully used on previous garments. Either way having conversations before you drop a tech pack on them often yields interesting information, which can further save time later down the development timeline.

I’ve always followed these 7 steps and have found that once everyone is aware and involved in this process you will have an easier time developing design into prototypes. Then you can spend more time curating the details and refining the prototype to deliver the best version of your design, rather than spend thousands on additional prototypes just to get the fundamentals right.

Step 8 - Don’t make a prototype

So the counter to all of the above steps is to negate them all by not making a 1st prototype at all. . . . Do it digitally!

The rise in quality and accuracy of 3D prototyping software has been slow, but finally it is now very possible to create realistic, accurate and (most importantly) transferable 3D models of your designs.

These softwares are becoming better and better at mimicking the way a fabric drapes and moves across the body. The patterns that are created can be imported into pattern cutting systems, and best of all you can prove your design works technically as well as aesthetically, with minimal cost on the environment.

Through software like CLO3D we can make multiple prototypes even before a material is knitted or woven, or a pattern is cut or a sample is shipped from the factory. This saves time, effort, materials and most importantly energy, which feels a more realistic way to prototype, when looking at our impact on the environment.

I truly believe that to be a good designer you should always be learning. Design is not a static profession. It takes time, effort and energy to stay abreast of the new developments, the new technologies and the changing landscape of trends and fashion. So embracing virtual prototyping should be on every designer to do list, if they want to stay relevant.

In conclusion, I would love all 1st prototypes to become virtual, but I understand that for most companies they are not quite ready and the need for physical prototypes is still part of the traditional development plan. But wouldn’t it be great to have your first physical prototype realised with a near perfect pattern, seam-lines and details that encase the body in exactly the way you had imagined.

All you would have to do is refine and curate the details. All with less wasted energy and more confidence that your design is nearer to production ready.

This feels like a future i can believe in!

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This article was originally posted in Ssachs Magazine and expands and explores the points made to further explore the subject of using colour effectively within the design process. This extended version goes further to discuss implementing new colour into a current colour palette can be a tricky process.

I remember back in art class when we were first introduced to the concept of a colour wheel. The idea that you could mix primary colours together to create secondary and tertiary colours was mind blowing for little Jonny.

At the time I thought this was magic, how combining two completely different pigments together could make completely new colours. Mixing combinations offered endless possibilities and was immensely satisfying. So, little did I know how important colour mixing was to be to the products I designed.

In fact, colour (and its application) is so important to the design process, and getting it wrong can mean an instant no from a buyer or customer, irrespective of the quality of the finished product. So, combined with the importance of reducing waste and designing more efficiently, choosing and applying colours to a project is fundamental to get right.

On the surface, the idea of colours seems fairly simple. You choose a colour, or combination of colours. You lab dip them, approve the lab dips and voila the fabric is produced! . . . . er no, if only it was that simple. The process of choosing, applying and realising colours needs some careful consideration and planning to get the right results, and here’s why.

Going through the mill

Working with yarn and fabric mills can be both exciting and frustrating in equal measure. As what seems to be the simple process of lab dipping can lead to an increasing frustrating situation as the material sign off for production comes ever closer. This frustration often comes from lab dips not coming in correctly and them needing to be re-issued time and time again, only to have variations on the same disappointing result.

But if you look at the factors that go into a creating a lab dip, you will start to see why you are maybe not seeing the result you had hoped for. When going back to the principles of the colour wheel, and you think about how hard it can be to mix certain colours and then apply that to a line of communication to a mill or dye house, you can start to see where confusion might start to occur.

Colours are mixed through a recipe and can be adjusted depending on the types of dyes used, but essentially it is not as simple as choosing a Pantone reference number and a material and off you go. It is important to consider the yarn type, dying process and desired colour saturation when making this choice.

For example some colours can be harder to dye than others on certain yarns. Sometime you can get a good saturation and depth to a colour, only to see that the colour fastness to light or rub is appalling. Or maybe the base material dyes up fine, but with the finishes and coatings to a material the colour can change significantly, often becoming washed out or faded.

A lot of dye houses & mills can adjust recipes, use different dye types or try different finishes to help get closer to the desired colour on certain fabric, but sometimes it is best to do your research by looking at what colours have already been dyed up in the desired fabric and comparing them to what you are trying to achieve, before making your decision on colour.

Often a simple conversation with the fabric manufacturer will highlight where they may have issues with a colour hue or level of saturation, so that an early decision can be made on both the material choice and the colour.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Understanding that lab dipping can be a difficult process to control can be frustrating, but it can also lead to opportunities when balanced within the planning of an entire collection.

Using your knowledge gained from the conversations you have had with a mill, you can plan an outfit or merchandising plan around what you can best expect to achieve. This can mean using a shaded colour concept for each colour in your collection to better control the results you may get from each fabric.

Knowing that each yarn will dye up differently is especially important when you are balancing fabrics and material types from many different mills, within a merchandising collection or even within a single garment. So looking at where you can best achieve certain colour hues and saturations can lead to some beautiful merchandising concepts.

Essentially, with a little planning and considerations for the logistics of dying materials you can both save time in the lab dipping process, and have more confidence in creating collections that feel considered and refined.

Decisions that can last a lifetime

So as you can see there is a great responsibility to undertake when choosing colour and it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. In this new world where we are all re-looking at our values to build more responsible, longer lasting garments, colour is an important factor that can change how we feel about a product.

For years the seasonal attitude to colour has been driven down our throats and choosing new seasonal colours was deemed as a necessity to keep product relevant, but is this still true? For sure colour is something that can change the way we feel about a product and new colours can refresh items to continue their lifespan, but the decision to update colour automatically every season seems an outdated concept.

With defined seasons blending together, product type and product lifespan come to mind when deciding on when to change or add a colour to a product. For example it is hard to justify adding a seasonal trend colour to an expensive jacket when the colour trend may be obsolete 6 months later.

So, the important decision to make is to look at how the seasonal trends will affect your core business and how long do you expect them to be part of your brand story. If the seasonal trend looks to be fleeting but could also be an effective update to a collection, then maybe looking at shorter life span products like t-shirts, mid-layers and accessories, can be a great way to refresh a look. This enables collections to stay relevant, without either compromising the range planning for long lifespan products, or your desire to evolve a colour story to keep things fresh.

Evolution or Revolution

When it comes to new seasons or times when it is identified that there needs to be colour palette refresh, what do you do? Generally there are 2 main principles you can adopt.

Either evolve the colour palette that you currently adopt adding additional colours and dropping colours which are deemed old or surplus to requirements, keeping best selling colours (which are often classified as core).

Or you can completely revolve a colour palette, starting fresh and building a colour palette that changes completely the visual impact of the brand. This adoption of a revolved colour palette is often used when a brand needs to completely change the whole ethos and brand identity, or when there is a new direction or collection that needs an injection of impact.

Depending on the situation, these approaches are more or less effective, but what sometime happens is that a brand attempts to combine these approaches to both keep the recognition & association of a colour palette with a brand.

A good example of a brand taking this route is when Mammut rebooted their design direction after Adrian Margelist came onboard as the CCO, back in April 2017, to modernise the brands output. He set about redefining what Mammut stood for as a technical outdoor brand.

Adrian looked to moving them towards what he calls Urbaneering, “a mix of highly functional materials, cut with a fashion statement”. As a result he first injected an revolve principle and brought softer, “non-traditional outdoor ” colours in to signify a statement approach to the new direction.

At the same time Adrian looked to use an evolve principle in some core product areas. Essentially he took the Mammut signature mountaineering colour palette of electric blue and tangerine orange, and evolved it to focus on the orange as a technical highlight, with a more modern navy & crisp white base as the impactful adaptation of the original concept.

This combination of approaches attempted to both refresh and infuse the outdoor market with a new take on outdoor and then brought the markets attention to a modern take on their signature colour story.

So the next time your are asked to refresh a colour palette, try to think about how a colour will work on each fabric, how the colour can be merchandised and how long to you expect the colour to be relevant on each product. This alone can save you a ton of material development time and offer a more effective brand strategy to both reap more effective financial gains, but also eliminate wasted efforts and products.

For more on the utilisation of colour, implementing new colour principles and building future proofed colour palettes, contact Jonn at

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