Below are notes on some of the elements that make up our unique business. It has been a very special journey and while we say goodbye with heavy hearts we know that there is a great future ahead for this sector and we do feel it has come along way since the early 90’s.
1. UNIQUE SIZE SYSTEM
Helen’s origins as an architect contributed to her creation of a size system that results in significantly lower than average returns due to issues of fit.
Our sizing system captures all 16 conventional sizes in 6 unique size options, 1-6. By combining dimension with scale and proportion, and by conscripting every seam, line and element into the service of this objective – thus we ensure that no one will ever be unable to find a garment that will fit. Having this as a given we source the most beautiful fabric qualities and prints available – ensuring sustainable provenance – and play with images and visual codes through silhouette and detail.
We re-use successful silhouettes and introduce endless variety though print, texture, drape and detail. This enables us to do very limited editions economically so it is rare for our customers to come across anyone wearing the same garment! Customers say that they often recognise a Sixteen47 garment being worn but never see one they have.
New technology is going to provide one of the most significant areas of development for fit as well as exciting opportunities for shopping as entertainment especially for big girls who have hitherto largely been excluded from consideration in shopping experience.
Not only can 3D animated avatars mirroring your own body be generated without a body scan – but sophisticated animation can create realistic look a likes – so virtual try on will be a whole new shopping experience – and can be done at home or in store – or virtually in store.
Mass Customisation and Immersive Shopping
Currently, 25-40% of all online sales end in returns, with the main reason being fit. By enabling consumers to see a realistic visualisation of the garment on themselves, how it moves, and the fit, before they make a purchase, it will greatly increase customer confidence and save costs for retailers over time.
2. DIGITAL LIBRARY OF GENERIC PATTERNS
These digital patterns can be sent anywhere in the world in moments. They can be digitally modified and printed locally.
A single digital pattern with a tested block can be modified for different fabrics and be updated with detail changes so that the same file can generate multiple options.
The digital patterns are supported by samples and card/paper patterns built up, evolved and tested over 26 years. These form basic blocks that can be updated and re-detailed.
Tried and tested “blocks” updated with detail and fabric – loved and bought over and over again generating a seemingly endless variety.
Set to embrace New technology
The manufacturing industry is going to have to revolutionise its approach to size and grading by merging technical and design aspects with creative solutions that can be integrated into the entertainment of shopping. Factory floors will become high tech labs. No more sweat shops.
Historically at the mass market end, design and production are separated. Sizing is unpredictable and not standardised. In the +/plus size market it is so crude that its generally the case that bigger sized women have longer arms. It’s that bad. The jobs within the industry are compartmentalised with entrenched hierarchies. Designer/pattern maker/pattern grader – 3 separate skills generally done as 3 different tasks in 3 different roles within the industry.
At Sixteen47 these have been merged using technology making us ready for the Shopping revolution.
Previewing an outfit in real-time through scanning 3D models not only creates an interactive shopping experience for the consumer, but also provides retailers and brands with key information about their target audience.
All of these digital trends are making a huge impact for the apparel industry to become more efficient, save time & money, create better products, and revolutionise the way they develop, produce and market fashion. The digital apparel revolution is here .
The trend will require that the process from buying to production become more integrated and possibly more vertical – changing the relationship between factories and retailers – possibly turning factories into retailers or retailers into having sustained and established relationships with their factories.
3. CUSTOMISED WEBSITE
Our website is customised so that we can evolve it to suit our own particular approach to marketing to our customers. It has been an evolving design since 2010 when we moved away from a website template because it did not meet our specific requirements.
In 2013 we took the tried and tested approach that we had been developing and created a brand new site.
The front of site is basic/simple/uncluttered. The back end is an integrated control centre where every element on every page is cross linked and can be edited, annotated and efficiently and accurately used in internal communications with individual actions tracked.
Shopping on line and consumer habits are changing. Technology is getting smarter, cheaper, more customisable and more accessible…customisation is the future….
4. Helen Teague.
“….the clothes are good – beautiful fabrics and prints – we use such limited ranges of fabric types – characterised by unfailingly beautiful colours and prints – in high quality mostly natural fabrics. Simple shapes which address the basic requirements of proportion and comfort and secure cover. They are well detailed and well made – and we do our best to avoid exploiting anyone and in our own enterprises we push hard for our colleagues to learn new skills and be emancipated enough to choose to stay or leave and hope they stay (if they were good enough) out of choice and not just because we provided better terms and conditions than others….” Helen Teague.
Helen qualified as an architect – graduating from Oxford Brooks University in1981 with a distinction and the the design prize. Practiced for 9 years mostly in social housing and urban regeneration.
Fashion designer since 1986 and fine sewer from the age of 8.
She is techy – from pattern making for buildings or garments and grading either digitally or by hand and a graphic designer with an interest in 3D and animation.
A Business woman with a passion for technology and a fairer future.
5. Dawn French.
Dawn Roma French (born 11 October 1957) is an English actress, writer, and comedian. She is best known for starring in and writing for the comedy sketch show French and Saunders with comedy partner Jennifer Saunders and for playing the lead role as Geraldine Granger in the sitcom The Vicar of Dibley. French has been nominated for seven British Academy Television Awards and also won a BAFTA Fellowship with Jennifer Saunders.