The sanitary context of the last two years has accelerated the digitalization  of the fashion industry. The optimization of the creation and development processes of collections has become a major issue for brands and retailers who have to face challenges of sourcing, manufacturing, and shipment within tighter deadlines.
Design offices, which are becoming flexible with remote working, are also under the pressure of this urgent call to digitalize stages of the creation process in order to save time in the creation stages. They must therefore answer the following challenge: work faster with less time to guarantee the production of the collection in the shortest possible time.
A previous article  from J2S mentions how J2S Template Maker helps to improve the productivity of the Design teams by automating the creation of model datasheets in Adobe Illustrator before sending them to the PLM .
We will now focus on another aspect of improving the creation process with the topic of collection books.
How to use collection books?
Collection books or overviews group models from a collection, a theme or a story that are sorted according to different classification criteria (product family, material, color, price, etc.).
Since some brands develop more than 500 models per collection, which are declined in several colors (we call this color reference), it becomes essential for the different actors in the creation of a collection (collection manager, product managers, merchandisers, buyers, etc.) to have a general or targeted overview of the models being designed.
Images are at the very heart of fashion design, so this presentation of the collection must be very visual in order to help players project themselves.
Example of a collection plan  :
The models and their color variations are grouped on boards to be presented before the selection decisions meetings and to make it easier to make decisions (model to keep, style modification, color rebalancing, silhouette, etc.).
Once the models are processed in the PLM, it is also necessary for product managers, buyers, or merchandisers to keep tracking the progress of the collection through visual collection books in which additional information is added to products (price, quantity, selection according to store type, etc.).
The collection book is constantly evolving and is subject to numerous updates in a very short period of time depending on the direction of the collection.
Manufacturing and updating
The creation of collection books is time-consuming and repetitive work, often done manually ( image importation, manual entry of product data), from multiple copy-paste from Excel, without any link with the data sources (images and attributes of the model).
However, these data sources often exist in the PLM .
Some brands or retailers still build the collection books from sketches printed on paper, then cut and pinned on foam board. Others print the sketches and glue material samples to illustrate the colors.
These manual processes do not keep the information up to date in a fast-paced environment and quickly outdate the collection book. As a result, it becomes unreliable ( in this context, modifications made to the collection are much more efficient than updating this document).
Moreover, the implementation of this document is very often imposed on the stylists who draw these models in Adobe design applications (Illustrator, Photoshop) to which the other professions of the company do not have access.
One of our clients calculated that about thirty days per season were spent on the production and updating of collection books. However, the layout work carried out by the stylists is done at the expense of the time dedicated to the creative process.
Faced with an increasingly short timeframe for collection development, what is the added value for a team of designers to have to spend a lot of time building and maintaining documents that can be automated?
This question raises a real issue related to digital transformation, with a clear return on investment.
What is the optimal workflow?
According to Daté Tétégan, a consultant specializing in design business processes in the fashion industry:
Daté Tétégan : Stylist and Consultant in Digital Fashion Design, Clic2mode
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
I quickly detected how J2S’ expertise is essential in supporting the digital transformation of brands in the fashion industry. With J2S, we have developed applications, extensions, and Adobe plugins dedicated to designers in order to help them automate their creative process, including the creation of collection plans.
For design teams, using J2S Template Maker and Simple Workspace tools frees them from the time-consuming task of creating the collection book.
This is how it works:
- Designers create and update models in Adobe Illustrator templates whose workflows are managed by the J2S Template Maker extension . The model images are then imported into the company’s PLM.
- At any time, Simple Workspace, the J2S solution, can automatically retrieve all the information from Centric Software’s PLM, aggregating it with other data sources (e.g. ERP, PIM data) if needed, in order to generate collection plans on demand. The benefits are multiple:
- Collection books are produced and updated in record time with a limited load on the design team.
- The ergonomy is designed so that any authorized user can generate an updated collection plan at any time.
- Centralized in a single tool, the collaborative workflows on collection plans implemented in Simple Workspace shorten decision-making times.
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Do you also want to find out how to free up time so that your design teams could be even more creative? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Richard Loubéjac & Daté Tétégan
1- We are aware that the correct usage would be to refer to “digital transformation” rather than “digitalization”, but we are making the choice to go with the most common usage among fashion players 🙂
4- Due to privacy concerns, we cannot show our clients’ collection book that features future models.
5- Simple Workspace has a connector to Centric Software’s PLM API. This enables automatic retrieval of data managed in the PLM.
6- For brands using Centric Software’s PLM, J2S Template Maker is designed to automatically create artwork using the PLM label list and ensure that the labelled images (” intentions “) are created for the PLM at the time of the Checkin with the Illustrator/PLM Adc connector from Centric.