How Lyndsey Butler Creates a Collection

There’s math. And it’s fun.

Sure, there’s a ton of creativity involved, but Lyndsey Butler’s design process is very exacting. “People tend to think that you dream up this idea, and it happens,” explains the woman behind the leather line Veda, which isn’t nearly as tough as the core material implies. Here’s what goes into creating a collection, from start to finish. —erica

A sketch, side-by-side with a magazine editorial that inspired it.

“In the beginning, my team discusses as many designs as we can come up with. The ideas can come in many forms. Some come from vintage pieces—like, ‘Oh I have this thing that I really like that I’ve had for years.’ Some come from pictures or from skins we saw while visiting a factory. It’s a hodgepodge, but usually we have a plan—say, we know we want to design 20 pieces. It takes a few weeks of sifting through that stuff and deciding what we want to move forward with. I like to sketch out everything that I might be into doing and go from there.”

Clothes being constructed in the in-house production space that Veda shares with The Reformation.

“The next step is drawing the pieces we actually want to move forward with in more specific detail—a front, a back, the stitching. I have a girl who works for me who’s a technical designer, and we talk about the waist length, the fit, all of the measurements. I really like the technical part—it’s fun, and it’s kind of nerdy. At this point, we’re picking colors and choosing skins, too. It depends on the shape of the piece and the season. We also spend a lot of time here asking, ‘What’s that one detail we really want to tie it all together?’ Those finishing touches make a collection feel like a collection, not just like ten jackets. Then we do our first samples. About 60 percent of the designs are sent to a factory to be made, and 40 percent of the samples we make here. The most exciting part is getting the first samples back.”

Computer sketches of the fall 2011 collection.

“For the second or third round of samples, this is how we communicate with our factories, our showrooms, and with each other—through these flat, basic, computer sketches that give you the essence of a style. There’s another sheet that goes with them that lists the skin, the color of the zipper, the measurements.”

Photos from the holiday 2012 lookbook.

“We go through this process until we shoot a piece for the lookbook. Usually at that point, I’ve been touching it, working on it, and spending all this mental energy on it, and I’m like, ‘Get it to the showroom as soon as possible!’ Otherwise I’ll just want to keep doing something to it, like changing the armhole or whatever.”

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