While collaborations are exciting and fulfilling, creatively, they also come with a number of new challenges. For example, not only do I need to come up with new designs within an agreed-upon budget, but also need to find a way to merge both brand ideologies. So I begin with research: new inks, new fabrics, new sketches (endless sketches). I look for things that can help set this design apart. By the time I finally settle on an idea, I'm excited to hit the ground running. I meet with my partner Johnny to go over the final concept and make sure we're all on the same page.
We meet with Timbuk2 to go over the concept, talk budget, and get their thoughts on the feasibility of the design. Because while State Of Flux will create the design (ultimately used as the blueprint for production) Timbuk2 will handle the logistics of manufacturing for retail.
So we get back to the shop to start working on the sample bag and soon realize we have a big problem. The expensive 3M ink we purchased is smearing all over the fabric because the fabric is too smooth and nothing we try can make it stick. Either the fabric or the ink needs to change, but either way, our original concept isn't going to work. Weeks of work, gone in an afternoon. Back to the drawing board.
We decide to stick with the fabric we'd already chosen and start experimenting with different ways to design on it: plastisol ink, embroidery, heat press, and a few others. We try everything, no longer bound to our original specifications and just trying to find something that lives up our vision. As it turns out, heat press works great with the fabric and the designs stay put with a shiny finish. Perfect.
This project is a great illustration of how a design frequently changes from concept to product and how being able to adapt when challenges arise is crucial. Art, like life, is uncertain. And being able to cope and regroup is what keeps us going.
The final product, our State Of Flux X Timbuk2 Mini Hustle Duffel, is something I'm proud of. Not only because it looks great and sells well, but because I know what we needed to overcome in order to get it to market at all. Collaborations help me push beyond my comfort zone and this experience has exposed me to new processes I might not have otherwise encountered. I'm grateful for the lessons I've learned and how they'll help my future designs for State Of Flux.
I hope this peek behind the scenes helps inspire you to take another crack at something that has you feeling stuck. I look forward to sharing more details of my design concept to product journeys in the future.
- Herbert G., Creative Director of State Of Flux