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FASHION ADVISOR #6 – THE PRODUCT OFFICE – THE PRODUCT MANAGER

Having dealt with the macro area of the STYLE OFFICE, it is time to delve into that of the PRODUCT OFFICE.
This is one of the most important divisions in a fashion company. A number of key figures in the conception and production of a collection are concentrated here, they are:

PM (Product manager)

R&D (Research and Development) Raw Materials

The modeler

The prototypist

The product office works closely with the style office by defining all the variables and translating the design emanating from the designer and his team into an industrializable version, taking into consideration the relative time and cost. Let’s look at the main figures and their functions separately, starting with the PM – Product Manager, also known as Product Developer or Product Development.

Photo: Pinterest

PM
The product manager follows the product from the definition of the designer’s idea to the realization of the samples, thus making the original idea industrializable.
Often there are several PMs for different commodities or a single team of people who share among themselves the entire work developed through a number of assistants, both technical (fabric and component buyers) and managerial.

Photo: Atelier de Courrèges, Paris 1960_Getty Images

In fact, the work of the PM has this double valence on the one hand it supports the designer, choosing with it or suggesting the components such as leathers or fabrics with the technical and economic characteristics (prices, minimums, supplements, alternatives…) most aligned with the image and the collection budget, and on the other hand it retrieves all the information from the pattern makers, prototypists and suppliers, with the aim of developing the prototypes that will later become the samples of the collection.  In parallel it deals with product-related costs, creating the so-called BOM (Bill Of Material or in Italian Distinta Base). This is the production recipe, the formula for each individual product with a list of its components, their unit prices, average consumption and corresponding costs.

The total BOM constitutes the cost of industrial production and is the basis for calculating Wholesale and Retail sales prices, so this cost bears an important responsibility and that is why it must be kept under close control, piloted and modified if it does not allow the realization of appropriate margins or is not aligned with the value perceived by the end consumer (for this the PM coordinates with the Merchandiser).

Photo: Pinterest

An additional document to be prepared by the Product office is the data sheet for each product where all the specifications for producing the garment according to the established standards are given in technical-discursive form and which the manufacturer must scrupulously follow.

The PM also participates in all meetings and fittings that define the genesis of each product and sometimes presents the final sample book together with the merchandiser to the sales force, pointing out peculiarities that are useful for commercial communication (technical aspects of materials, decorative elements, references to Heritage, etc.).

Photo: Pinterest

by Stefano Sacchi
04th November, 2022

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