Better Communicate with Your Suppliers - Colorkarma

Where in the design stage does color belong?



Author: Shoshana Burgett, Pink Elephant Productions

Where in the design stage does color belong?

Shoshana Burgett, Founder of Colorkarma, Ryan Stanley, Director of Color and Material for PVH, and Nikki Hiza Material Developer for UnderArmour discuss the stages in the design process and debate where color and material discussions belong. Where does color choice belong in the design process, and why is it too often defined late, where changes are costly and time-consuming.

Nikki Hiza
Nikki Hiza, Materials Developer at Under Armour

Shoshana Burgett 

Hello, this is Shoshana Burgett from colorkarma.com. I am here with Ryan Stanley, Senior Director of color at PVH, and Nicki Hiza, Material Developer at Under Armour. Thank you very much for joining me, guys.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Thank you. So today we’re going to talk about footwear, color, material, and process. And so help us understand Nikki how that kind of flow of footwear works at Under Armour

 

Nikki Hiza 

Color kind of plays a point into it, but at the same time that she was being designed, the color palette is being created. So design is happening, material selection is happening. And we’re putting materials on to the components of the shoe. Once that happens, then color comes in and applies color to the different components, then we review it and make sure those colors can be applied to those components and those materials. And then we’ll get a sample round of the physical shoe. And we’ll see if something’s working, something’s not working, if we have to change anything. And it kind of trickles down from there to being the final product.

 

Ryan Stanley 

So potential area of opportunity, though, right? Like figuring out a given color is achievable and in a material after the fact maybe?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Mm hmm, yeah

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yeah. So to understand, color sounds like it’s later in the design stage.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Color is typically later. Yeah. in the design stage,

 

Shoshana Burgett 

So what are some of the challenges that happen when color comes that late?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Um, if a material can’t take a certain color, if like a leather can’t be a bright color, or if a certain, whatever material like has to be black or white, like the backing of synthetic, usually, like they’ll, the supplier will have either a color palette, that’s, that’s kind of just like a basic, maybe like six or 10 colors. Or only black or white.  So the color is kind of in it from the beginning ish, but mostly, like, mostly towards the end. It’s kind of at the beginning where we have an idea, but we don’t put it together until the end.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah. It depends on the materials chosen.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yeah, so do you typically, I mean, what are some of the challenges you have late in that process? where, you know, a supplier comes in and says, Well, that’s nice, but I can’t produce this on that I can’t produce that color on that material. Is that something you hear a lot? See a lot?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah, that does actually come up a lot. If the supplier comes back and says that they can’t achieve a certain color, or if they send us a lab dip, which is kind of a color swatch of that particular material. If they can’t achieve what we’re asking for, we either change the color of that piece, we change the material, or we ask the supplier for an alternative suggestion. So do you have something that’s kind of like this, but can take that color? Um, so we kind of go back and forth.

 

Ryan Stanley 

That goes into a question I was gonna ask is there, How do you guys manage vendor materials or vendor colors rather. So like the traditional brand color palette versus a color palette specific to the mill that you’re working with, and the set of colors that they know they can achieve on that material?

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Right.

 

Nikki Hiza 

So we use CSI and those, a lot of suppliers use Pantone but they can match our CSI unless they have a set color palette that like they can only do for a certain kind of material, they can usually match our color palette,

 

Shoshana Burgett 

if the vendor cannot meet the color then they have to change the color change the material or find an alternate balance right? When you change the color material. How much what’s the impact it has on the whole process now for approval

 

Nikki Hiza 

you know, if the, if the color of a certain component has to change as we’ll obviously go the group, will get together the color designer materials sometimes the footwear designer development PLM like wheels we will do a meeting and say like who’s okay with what like is the designer okay with this component not being like a bright red or something. Usually, everybody’s pretty easy to work with. If what if somebody wants that specific component to be like standing out in a certain way that shows off like this is a function of this material of this Part of the shoe. So we want it to be like, emphasized with the bright color or something, then it kind of comes down, keeps the color change the material or like, what are the options? Because it kind of depends on the situation,

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Does it slow you down or increase costs? Or?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Um, yes

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yes, all the above,

 

Nikki Hiza 

it can definitely increase cost, which is unfortunate. And if so, if that happens, we try to save costs in a different area of the shoe. Or if it’s, if it’s like an acceptable amount of like, cost increase, then, you know, that’s okay.

 

Ryan Stanley 

Like, when you’re developing the materials specifically, do you guys pay attention to what colors can execute on those materials and or how the surface of the material like the aesthetic of the material might impact the color, and then what materials you put together to try to, you know, have a level, level of synergy between the colors, knowing that they might be executed differently.

 

Nikki Hiza 

So kind of at the beginning, when we’re when we get materials submits from a vendor, we’ll ask them, are there any limitations. Especially if there’s, there’s a certain test protocol that that like if it can achieve a neon color, like a brighter color, if something has to be like, a black, or if something has to stay white. So we kind of know, like that sort of basic information going into it. Um, but anything, anything more detailed than that? It’s kind of like, deal with it as it comes.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

But footwear, how many pieces are in a piece of an average shoe?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Materials?

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yeah,

 

Nikki Hiza 

the upper? I mean, there could be any, there could be anywhere from, like 10 to 20. And our

 

Ryan Stanley 

individual components are different materials?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Both.

 

Ryan Stanley 

Oh, oh, wow. Okay,

 

Nikki Hiza 

in a different material, you know, would be a different component. Yeah. I mean, do you have the vamp you have to heal the quarters?

 

Shoshana Burgett 

It’s a giant jigsaw puzzle made out of different materials.

 

Nikki Hiza 

So we’ll have a material map, sort of a general line art sketch of the shoe? Uh-huh. And then

 

Ryan Stanley 

when you’re developing a material, do you have a particular component of the shoe in mind? Like, I know, this is going to be a material that’s used for oh, x on the material. So I want it to have this kind of aesthetic or this type of performance.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah. So for each category, they kind of have different likes, test score, standards, so for so I’m in outdoor footwear and training footwear, and both of those categories need like high abrasion resistance scores, for instance, much more than like a lifestyle shoe, right, you’re gonna be working out in it, you’re going to be you know, climbing a mountain in it or whatever. Um, so they have to be more durable materials,

 

Ryan Stanley 

which might directly impact what colors can be achieved on those materials.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yeah, right. Yeah, cleats have a different need than just a pair of, you know, walking around shoes or clogs or boots, right?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

So and on top of it, if you think about cleats, right, they have not just the abrasion, they have a purpose, they’re supposed to stick and get into the dirt right, they have functionality to both the shape the form the function and the material. Yeah, I mean, it challenges

 

Nikki Hiza 

like a helmet is, I mean, it’s got to protect, like, an, like, an outdoor shoe has to protect your foot, the same way as like a jacket would, you know, I mean, it’s got to be, maybe it has to be waterproof. Maybe it has to, I don’t know, have like a certain flexibility standard or padding around your ankle or something, you know, it’s got to protect you. It’s got to have a function and what first sport or whatever you’re, wherever you’re going to wear this shoe has to have, you know, specifics around it,

 

Ryan Stanley 

do you ever get pulled into issues after the fact so you work to develop a material and then either a and then either a performance after treatment is put on it or you find out that color can’t be achieved on it for whatever reason, and then you guys are forced back to the supplier to redevelop the material or are it just sort of you you work it out and get a best can do throughout the process?

 

Nikki Hiza 

So yeah, sometimes we have to go back and redevelop or improve a test for something if we have a material on a pallet that can be used for a lifestyle shoe or a different category and we need it to just be improved like a little bit for whatever purpose or whatever category. You know, there is some back and forth with our vendors. So Sometimes changing the performance qualities of material completely changes the appearance and hand feel of the materials. And sometimes it doesn’t work, which is unfortunate. Sometimes you can use that for the next season or a different category a different shoe or something

 

Ryan Stanley 

It goes into your library.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah, yeah

 

Shoshana Burgett 

How many materials are in your library? Not your home library,

 

Nikki Hiza 

Um, I don’t know, that’s a good question. I think. I don’t know, thousands, you know, we have, we have hangers of material, which is just kind of, sort of like a sheet of paper size. And then we have catalogs, which are binders on the other walls of the library, which have like, you know, an uncountable amount of materials that aren’t in our system.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

And during a season you have, how many colors would you typically see on one shoe?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Anywhere from? I mean, we have the amount of, you know, monotone style, so that would be one up to maybe 6, 10. in that in that area?

 

Shoshana Burgett 

wow,

 

Ryan Stanley 

6 to 10 colorways or six to 10 Individual colors

 

Shoshana Burgett 

per shoe

 

Ryan Stanley 

For style. Yeah,

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yeah. style. So six to 10 colors. Yes.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Okay, so the number of

 

Shoshana Burgett 

10 colorways, up to 20 materials?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Um, yeah,  twenty is kind of pushing it

 

Shoshana Burgett

Twelve

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah, I would probably say 12, I would say 15 different materials,

 

Shoshana Burgett 

I don’t have a calculator. But that’s a lot of variations across a lot of different things.

 

Nikki Hiza 

So only a few, there’s only a few. Okay, so for training, there are only a few colorways per season. So it can be the same material from like spring, summer, or quarter like Q1, Q2, and in the spring-summer season,

 

Ryan Stanley 

I’d be curious to know, adoption of colorways by style, like how much this is something that, you know, we have conversations at PVH, the juggling the number of materials, number of colorways on your style, and then the what is actually selected by whomever, you know, merchandise sales to go out onto the floor. So you wind up producing potentially, you know, two times the amount of stuff, and then only picking a third of it,

 

Nikki Hiza 

Some styles get dropped. Yeah.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

So close your eyes. And imagine where instead of doing the sketches, and then picking the material, and then handing it off to color then handing off to the supplier. Imagine if you could, since you’re virtual, download a material, wrap it around something digitally, and have it give you a realistic color and material rendering of what it would look like.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Um, so some vendors offer that process, no catalogs, it’s kind of like, they’ll have like the page with the material, they’ll kind of have that sort of image wrapped around a shoe.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Okay,

 

Nikki Hiza 

some of the styles that we do are physically sampled and some of the styles are VR sampled. So it is the actual image of the material wrapped around. Okay, so I think it in a way could speed up the process. Because you could see the actual materials digitally. Next to, you know, with what they’re going to be on the shoe next to. All right. Although I’m such a visual person, like I, for me, I personally like touching and holding things physically like so I prefer to see it as a physical sample of a shoe. You can see does it stretch? Is it lofty? Um, is it too smooth? You know, like, is it what, what is going on here? You know, on a digital platform, it’s kind of hard to tell sometimes with things like that

 

Ryan Stanley 

You could potentially have but an undyed portion of the material though, right? Or like, so if you had like a, you know, a physical set of those materials, but they were on DOD or they were treated in a particular way. But then digitally, you had the ability to see different types of aesthetics or what different types of treatments applied to that material might aesthetically look like and then apply your colors. Would that be the same or It’s the same as you still have to even if it’s different colors, you still want to hold it in touch it.

 

Nikki Hiza 

I still want to see it in person.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

So How many times do you go through? How many samples Do you physically review for? Physically,

 

Nikki Hiza 

there’s a first sample review, we have a second sample review. And then we have a third and final review. This is what it is. So it’s kind of just like seeing what it is actually gonna be. So there’s kind of only two sample rounds.

 

Ryan Stanley 

Where you have the opportunity to change something.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah, by the third one, like, it should be like, this is what’s gonna be like, this is the actual thing.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yeah, so I think where Ryan and I are coming at is, if you had white material that you could touch and feel and understand the form, I mean, because that’s a very tactile piece, right? So I recognize that. But if you could visualize and digitize that color, you know, spot-on, where all you needed, that was that final, you know, third or fourth piece, then you still have your physical shoe to sign off on just no different than approved, you still want that physical proof to take a look at. But you could digitize the whole thing.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Color-ways, I think that’s great. Like, I think it’s the whoever’s doing that, like virtual sampling, if they, if that’s true to the material, like what the material can take, I think that’s great

 

Shoshana Burgett 

okay, for color, right? Because the material has feel, right, you want to make sure the weave And to your point, there’s adhesion and glue, and heat and melt points, and all these other things with footwear, that add complexity to it. Now, imagine a different way, where even before you start with your ideas, you went to all of those white samples, and through on colors that are achievable on those samples? Would that open your, your creativity? To Oh, I didn’t know I could do that on that material, right? Because now if you’re virtually applying color, I’m just throwing down no different than Photoshop going give me that color, that color, make me a new color, show me what I don’t see on a screen.

 

Ryan Stanley 

Maybe downstream, but not necessarily in material development. And well, you tell me,

 

Shoshana Burgett 

that’s why Yeah.

 

Nikki Hiza 

I mean, some, there are some instances where you go back to the vendor and say, like, Can you give me a sample of this material in a, b, and c color, which we know is going to be on our palette? So like, if there is a material that like is, is in question or something, so you can see those in person. And then we can keep those in the library for future reference.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Right? So I’m just thinking of creativity of even before you’re even picking palettes, you get to tinker in Toy very quickly, with a digitized color and just apply it on to these different materials to go. Can I do this on leather? Can I do this on? You know, this type of material and cotton or lace, or rivets? Or all the other pieces and bits and bobs?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah, I think that could definitely help. I think the more tools available to our designers, you know, the more fun they can have, the more helpful it could be.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

You said fun. Do you think the challenge or one of the challenges is that designers don’t think color material is fun when it comes to the development stage?

 

Nikki Hiza 

I don’t know. I can’t speak for anybody else. I think I think I think more projects are more fun, some projects and more fun than others. I mean,

 

Shoshana Burgett 

that’s every project, right? Everybody’s got you know, they’re not all gonna be great games and projects you got across the spectrum, but it’s more of collaboration, innovation speed to market cost.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

How do you use the technology to apply it to speed cost, creativity, innovation, all of those components?

 

Nikki Hiza 

I’m glad you brought that up because the cost is huge. That’s like the, it’s like the Grim Reaper, right? It’s like you have all these cool materials and like, certain colors of the material will sometimes cost more. And then you’re like, oh no

 

Ryan Stanley 

It just destroys the style.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Because it costs too much, it’s like change this, and it’s like, come on,

 

Ryan Stanley 

does that take into account at the beginning when you’re actually developing the material or is the very beginning when your development gets a little open? But then after it’s okay, they can choose to pick this or not?

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah, it’s not so much in the very beginning. There’s kind of like a general sort of gray area, you know, but then like as we have finalized materials as we have finalized like patterns, you know, if you use as a smaller amount of material, obviously, it’s going to cost less. So it kind of cost doesn’t really have like a finite like answer until close to the end, which is unfortunate, because then we’re like, super excited about this. And then

 

Shoshana Burgett 

so play that same scenario. Now, put the color material all the way up front, you guys go, this is the color we want. It only works on this material. It’s more expensive. But we want it, what can we sacrifice now? And again, make those decisions way up front now as a team, and you get that hot pink on that white leather that’s coded or I have no idea. And but then you get that, but you’ve made these compromises in these other materials to achieve the overall vision. Right. Can you foresee that happening and having a positive impact?

 

Nikki Hiza 

I think that, yeah, I think that could be helpful. I think it’s always it’s always interesting to look at it in a non-traditional way. Like, we’re always doing it like design and then materials and then color and then cost. Can we switch it up in any sort of way? You know, I think it’s, it’s always it’s good to keep an open mind and look at things. If they could be different, you know, how could they be different? Or would that be terrible?

 

Ryan Stanley 

Find it based on style, style, and requirement.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

The way you go is it was designed material color and cost and you said color, a cost was the Grim Reaper. It’s like cost is mom, we plan the big party and the mom said no, right. Yeah. Can we get the parents’ buy-in at a time and then maybe you can finally get that Well, Nikki, thank you so much for the chat. All that’s left to view in these late hours is the sad fire glow on your face.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Yeah. It’s all the fire.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Yeah.

 

 

I’ll send you guys a picture of what it actually looks like because it is. I’ve never seen anything like this.

 

Ryan Stanley 

Be safe. That’s insane.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Be safe. Thank you so very much. on a side note, I will send you some material to make some shoes out of having fun. I will send you that. Brian and Nikki, thank you so much for just another chat. And again, just sharing and figuring out how to do it better, faster, cheaper, and brighter, and more colorful. You’d have more fun.

 

Ryan Stanley 

I love it.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Thanks, guys.

 

Shoshana Burgett 

Take care guys.

 

Nikki Hiza 

Bye

Related Posts

Registration Popup

At colorkarma, you will gain access to the latest industry advice, news, articles, calendars, and more.

Enhance your skills  designing for production.


Join the Fam!

Already registered? Please

Knowledge is power
Unshackle your creativity

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On Instagram