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Designing a Graphic versus Designing a Sweater

As a graphic designer, coming up with ideas for a graphic (poster, advertisement, web, etc.) is nothing new to me.  Coming up with ideas for a sweater, however, is something entirely different.  My focus during my college days was purely graphic design, we were never taught anything about how to design for fashion.

Fast forward a few years after college and I'm working for a fashion design company.  Up until now we've been solely doing graphic tees, but we're slowly starting to expand our line and were told to begin designing for outerwear.  This is completely new territory for me. So, like I do with my graphics, I rolled up my sleeves and researched trends, color ways, fabrics and most importantly how to put it all together.  Anyone can draw up a sketch of a sweater, but you have to remember to take so many things into consideration that I never had to for graphics.  It was a challenge, always will be a challenge, but I love me a good challenge.

When I'm designing for a sweater, I'm looking to do something that caters to our kind of guy.  The guy who would wear Arka is outgoing, independent, and definitely wants to be different.  We like our graphics to be very eccentric, almost extra-terrestrial.  Similarly, with our sweaters, we'd like to compliment that.  We're not afraid of being a little bit forward with our designs, but we don't want to compete with a designer like Rick Owens when it comes to that style (look him up, his designs are very fashion forward).  The challenge, for me at least, is having our graphic tees in mind and coming out with something cohesive with the rest of our line.  In a perfect world, we'd like our guys to be rocking Arka from head to toe, but with so many good lines out there, how can you blame your consumer for following other brands?  If we make outerwear that becomes a match made in heaven with our tees, then we'll be giving our consumers one more reason to wear our gear.

While designing for a graphic, including those that will grace our sweaters, I never think about what would match our outerwear since I know I can and will get a little bit more funky with it.  That's just what we do. We like to put our scientist pants on and get experimental with our graphics.  The outerwear we're trying to design won't take away from our graphics, but will instead compliment and flow in sync with them.

Hauk Vagner