Just designing beautiful clothes as part of a profitable business or just offering the social impact programmes are not enough. What excites me is how all of this can come together to have an explosive, powerful impact. This is how Yumna Firfrey the designer behind Bodhisattva describes the passion that drives her.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
Garments are made as part of a collection, but recently I have been doing garments on their own – I have either seen a great fabric and thought that a particular style, would work beautifully in it. Or, I would get some feedback from my customers with specific requests in terms of what works for them or how they would like to have some aspects changed and I listen to this and consider how to incorporate this feedback into my designs.
Sometimes, I have a piece of fabric that is exquisite, which I drape and realise what it could become and then design around this image. If I am doing a collection, I would have a selection of fabric/leather/mohair swatches that place onto a black hardboard and see how they look together. I constantly add and take away.
I pull together all my design drawings that I have done over the months prior to the process. Design doesn’t happen at a moment in time, but rather all the time and all of these moments need to be organised and consolidated. I consider which I use and which I don’t and whether there is anything that must still be added to have a well-balanced collection. This is a right and left-brain exercise.
Then the hard work starts of having samples made. Checking that the required fabrics in the correct quantities can be sourced in time for production. I don’t have my own in-house clothes production team; I use carefully selected small production teams across the city, so I have to check that they have the availability. This is often agreed beforehand, but schedules change all the time. And I have often been in very desperate situations where I cannot get the production capacity. This is especially true for Bodhisattva because we demand such high quality and we produce small numbers of garments as an exclusive label. I am slowly working on getting my own capacity now, which will transform the process significantly.
Once production starts, you have to manage the process: from managing raw materials, wastage, mistakes, quality. This and sourcing production houses has been the most stressful part of this journey. I look forward to getting to a stage in a few years time where I can mentor new designers. I would advise them to do things so differently.
Then I brainstorm. I do mind maps. I think about all the feedback that I’ve received and what I’ve thought about my previous collection and how I want this want to be different and similar. This is from silhouettes to colours, fabrics, but also sizing.
“I’d like Bodhisattva to be a best practice case of how businesses can be very profitable in the long term, very innovative and yet also have an unbelievably impactful role in society. I understand it’s a tall order, but I’m up for the challenge.” Yumna Firfrey