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Conceptualization: Part 1

Conceptualization: Part 1

The act of formulating an idea or concept; is where it all starts for a new product.

We often get asked what someone should do to create a new product, so we are taking our experience to share what we have learned with you. The first things first, what problem are you solving? The problem doesn't have to be world hunger or anything dramatic, but having a defined problem and developing a solution will give you a market for your product.

At some point in their life, everyone has had an idea for a product or service. The first step to take that needs to be taken is a conceptualization; in other words, develop that idea. For this series, we will use the Napalm Flannel as our example. So what's the problem? The problem we aimed to solve was simple, a high-quality, affordable flannel shirt made in the USA. We knew from experience what would be needed in the construction of the Napalm. The material and types of seams would be the driving factor in quality, with stringent quality control to maintain a high-quality product.

We listed the solutions to poorly made Chinese flannels: poor stitching, inferior materials, and poor quality control. Then we started sketching design concepts to implement the solutions. Once we had a shape and fit in mind, we begin to explore features. At this point, the details matter. Explore everything. I can't stress this enough. If you are making garments. Think about button size, shape, and material. Look at where the pockets will go, how deep, and the interior form of the pocket.

Now it is time to refine, find a garment that may be similar, and visualize your garment. Image the buttons, the folds, the fit, the seams—everything you can, including the features you want to add that maybe doesn't exist. For the Napalm, we added bar-tack reinforcements to specific weak points, flat-felled seams, squared pockets, and a thicker hem, just to name a few features.

Once you have concept drawings and you have refined the idea, it's time to prototype.