Ed. Note—our "Bones and Sand" summertime collection launches today, and as with most of our launches, we're pretty stoked on it. But how did it come to be? For that matter, how does any Wattie Ink. collection or kit come into existence? Read on to discover.
by Chris Bagg
Every few months, I get a text message from Wattie, usually along the lines of "Hey, do you have a few seconds to look at something?" Who would ever say no to such a thing? Moments later I get a privileged peak at whatever is in the works at Wattie HQ. Often it's the second or third crack a designer has taken at a particular kit, and the team needs some outside eyes. "I've just looked at it too many times," is a common refrain I hear during this process, and who hasn't been there? Sometimes, when working on something, you get so close to it you can't view it with a critical eye anymore. So here is what appeared on my phone that day back in March:
Pretty cool, right? And not too far off from where we ended up (see the hero picture, above), but definitely some differences. "I like it," I wrote back. "But that spray paint line across the chest looks a little odd...it looks like a smudge to me." I also suggested that the color palate was maybe a little too 90s, especially 1A, which had me reminiscing—briefly—about my Body Glove and Hypercolor t-shirts from 8th grade. Wattie thanked me for the feedback and took it back to his design team, Brittany Arcila and Randy Adlawan (check out our piece on Brittany here, and we're profiling Randy in the next few weeks). Those two gathered feedback from several sources and got back to work, resulting in the final design. I was intrigued. How did they get there? I reached out to Brittany for some answers, and here's what I learned:
What does your process look like when you begin a new design from scratch—from a totally blank canvas?
For Bones & Sand, each of us started with a “mood board” which is composed of various images to help gather ideas and inspiration. Images ranging from color, current fashion trends, art inspiration, etc. From there we discuss what images stand out the most, what we like/dislike, and continue from there.
When you're asked to come up with a new design, how do you work? What do you look towards for inspiration?
After discussing what the possible theme will be, concepts based on the mood boards will be created. For me it’s starting on a blank jersey template and keep playing with color, shapes, etc. to make the design.
What was the initial concept for Bones and Sand?
Originally, we had the direction of something that would simply be fun for summer, but still eye catching. We looked at last year’s summer kit, Shipwreck, at what made it special and unique. Then we discussed what we could do to make this one fresh, new, and different. Beach theme with a Wattie Ink. twist was what we decided on—bright colors and an all-over print were the first key notes.
How many iterations did you work through?
Randy had created the initial concepts for Bones & Sand, and pretty much right away we knew the concepts were going in the right direction. Usually we start with men’s templates and then work over to women’s after the initial concept phase. Figuring out how it would work for women was where color came into play. Although we did decide on one palette that would work for both genders, we still thought an individual palette would provide great mix and match options.
Did you go down any dead ends in the process? If so, could you share the story of one of those dead ends?
When I started to work on this project, my challenge was to find color palettes that would work for both genders, but also stand alone as men's and women's palettes. Another consideration was how these colors would work for summer, as we wanted something that would not only be fun but also have be high vis for the person wearing the garment on the road. So I looked at what colors are in style for this season, and tried different combos. In the end, we chose a tropical green palette for men and bright pink for women. Combined they would share a cool blue, but the men’s/women’s garments would still have either a hint of green or pink to tie everything back together. Another challenge was figuring out that something “extra” that would be totally unique for the collection and completely its own. A while ago, I had made some logo concepts that could work for various collections in the future. One of them was used and placed on the back of the tops, which worked out perfectly, because it really brought everything together!
How do you know when you're getting close to finishing a design?
The best sign of a nearly-done project is when feedback or critique quiets down. After we feel the design is nearly there, a color test is sublimated onto fabric for a final review of color. Once that is approved, the last step is building out all the other styles, 2D illustrations of the design of our garments, for the final sign off. Once signed off the production phase begins and the 2D’s come to life!
Do you collaborate with each other on design? What does that look like?
Of course, we collaborate! We’re always asking each other for opinion and help each other with projects. Everyone here is an asset in creating a new collection and it certainly helps to have multiple people sharing ideas.