The production department sits alongside the design and technical departments and includes both sourcing of materials and production of the item which will go on sale. It involves planning, developing and presenting products for a specific market of the fashion or retail company you are working for.
The department works closely will both the design and technical teams and in order to progress you will often have to possess a good knowledge of the design process, target markets and the supply chain. At the head of the department sits the product manager, who is responsible for the entire development and production process of a company's products, liaising with teams such as product design, quality assurance, sales & marketing, and manage the production process with the factories.
Large retailers – River Island, Warehouse, Monsoon, Arcadia Group as well as Branded companies such as Burberry, Aquascutum, Diesel, Miss Sixty, Boxfresh and importers and manufacturers such Dewhirst, Sara Lee Courtaulds, Richard Caring Group all employ production staff so there is a wide variety of roles for you to choose from. In fact, for every brand and retailer there are three times as many importers and manufacturers!
Product development manager
A product development role includes producing detailed tech packs and following complete development of product from initial drawings to final sample, liaising with factories and also travel to offshore factories to follow progress and check production, sourcing trims and fabrics, ordering raw materials and communicating with vendors.
Product development manager
The product development manager is ultimately responsible for the creation and delivery of new products, in conjunction with the design, production and technical team. They will expand business with existing customers and develop new customer contacts, manage external development and research partners, identify new opportunities to create competitive advantage, ensuring the product of the fashion/ retail company is on-trend and performing well.
The job of a Product Manager within the fashion and retail industry is responsible for the product planning and execution throughout the fashion product lifecycle, including: gathering and prioritising product and customer requirements for the fashion/retail company, defining the product vision of the fashion brand, and working closely with engineering, sales & marketing, and design to ensure revenue and customer satisfaction goals are met.
The job of a Sourcing Manager within the fashion or retail industry is to focus on finding the best resources at the best prices to keep the manufacturing process on schedule and to ensure productivity is cost effective.
The manufacturing process is monitored from inception through to completion, and the Sourcing Manager will analyse the process to determine whether to use the supplier again or seek out higher quality or more cost-effective providers. The job entails confirming the terms of all contracts, licenses, insurance and liability agreements for each source being used.
You will need a good understanding of the design process involved.
Good technical product and market knowledge (e.g. in a fashion environment they will understand apparel and image aesthetics, fashion consumer spending, target markets, and the role of textiles and clothing within the global economy.)
Fantastic communication skills, both with internal and external partners.
Accuracy and attention to detail.
Flexibility to travel where necessary.
Preferably when you start out in production as a production assistant, you should have strong computer skills, backed up by a product-related degree.
A product developer, meanwhile can progress to product development manager, a role which may well span both the production team and the design team. Experience in international markets will improve your progression opportunities.
Product development manager is a senior role, often entered into after having many years of experience in fashion buying, garment technology or fashion design. The Product Development Manager will need to understand all the roles involved in the process, from conceiving a design idea to it arriving on the shop floor of the fashion/retail company.