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Range Plan? What it is and why you need one

Read on to learn how a range plan can help reduce your design time, keep your development on budget, and prevent scope creep!

A range plan acts as the blue print to your collection. It ensures alignment between design, merchandising and sourcing efforts. It indicates how many styles, in how many colors, and what fabrications your line will offer. This is a great way to plan general fabric consumption, production efficiencies, volume, and what silhouettes you will offer.

The purpose of range plan is to save time and money during the development and production of your line!

Decide what type of format you will use

This document can take many forms, depending on your preferences. It might be a collage of screenshots taken from your inspo archives (this is what ours usually looks like first). It may be an excel document with a ton of data (this is typically how it ends up). Or it could be a mix of the two in a format that makes sense for your brand and personal workflow.

How to create it

The process for creating a range plan has a clear start, but not such a clear completion. The range plan evolves as your line evolves, but sticking closely to it throughout the design and sampling phases will keep your line cohesive, tight, and on budget! The process of creating it is the first step in the development process, and many of the steps required to make your range plan are also necessary tasks for designing your collection. These efforts will overlap and many of the work done to create your range plan is also work that you do before designing your line!

"We always start every new collection with a range plan. It cuts out so much guess work and wasted time in the beginning of the design process" -Connie Bourgeois, CEO

Step 1 - Determine the mood

Scour trend reports, color forecasting sites, and fashion blogs! Gather all your inspiration, whether that is swipes, screenshots, fabric swatches, trim samples or sketches you have jotted down in the past. Start with creating your mood board! Look at the overall vibe, the fabrics, the silhouettes that it evokes and go from there.

Step 2- Write down the silhouettes

Create a quick list of the types of garments you see going in the line. This should be very quick, 4 or 5 word descriptions. Write out each garment you envision for the line and a defining detail (so you don't forget). Many designers look at their mood board and their swipes or inspo images and pull out certain details that they want to be an overarching theme or cohesive detail. Here's an example of a written out rangeplan:

List of garment silhouettes to include in a fashion designer's line
Range plan example

Consider if this is a well rounded collection? Are there too many bottoms and not enough tops? Here is where you make sure you are balanced and offering the correct assortment for your market and brand.

Step 3 - Narrow down your fabrications, prints, and colors

Once you have the styles written down, start thinking about your fabrics and colorways. Next categorize your styles by fabric and category. How many tops in fabric A will you offer? How many bottoms? Dresses? Once you have the styles divided by fabric, determine how many colorways or prints each will be offered in. It's a good idea to have your color palette handy during this exercise.

Now that your fabrics are assigned to each garment, roughly estimate how many yards each silhouette might require. Then multiple that by how many units you plan to order. Do this for each style that shares fabric and then add the totals to determine if you will come close to the fabric MOQ. If you come under the MOQ, you can consider increasing units per style, adding another style that uses that same fabric, or looking for a fabric with a lower or no MOQ. Here's an example:

Example of fabric consumption plan during a fashion designer line plan
Figuring fabric consumption

Step 4 - Compare costs with your budget

Once you have an idea of each style, the estimated fabric per each, and how many units you might have to hit per style, add up the costs. Does this budget for raw materials work in your overall budget? Does this leave enough room in the budget for the rest of development and production costs. If so, great! If not, look for ways that you can reduce your costs. This can be by reducing the number of units that go to production, which might require you spend more time finding an in stock fabric. However, the fewer units you produce, the higher cost per unit you end up with. Higher volume leads to production efficiencies and a lower cost .

Or perhaps your budget is not realistic. If there are no ways to save costs, you might need to think about ways to increase your budget. Think over your styles and make sure these fit the target market, your budget, and your timeframe. Too many styles will take longer to develop. It will also cost you more in time and money. Be as tight as possible, especially if this is your first collection. (Look out for a blog post coming soon on ways to fund your collection)

Now what?

Start designing! As you design and apply color to your sketches, use your range plan to help you eliminate styles that don't fit the range. If you designed six dresses but your range plan calls for two, you better start cutting some out! You can always add them to future collections, but it's better to do less and do it well than to over design! (Watch for a future blog post about over designing!)

Come back next week to read about the next step in the design process and how the range plan might evolve into a linesheet!

An example of a fashion collection based on a range plan. Shows CAD images of designer resort wear sketches,
Collection sketches based on a range plan


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