How to Design a Shirt

by L J Furman, MBA on May 15, 2013

in Connecting the Dots

Two new shirts.

Two new shirts.

Both of the shirts pictured above are “Reaction” brand shirts from “Kenneth Cole.”

Shirt Collar, Label on back.

Shirt Collar, Label on back.

My reaction to the shirt on the left is “It looks good and feels comfortable.”

My reaction to the shirt on the right is “It might look good, but I’d be uncomfortable in it.

Clearly the “designer” doesn’t consider placement of the labels part of the design.  This is, I suppose the difference between “Industrial Design” and “Fashion Design.” Industrial designers think about form and function. Fashion designers think about what looks good.

Therefore, I wouldn’t buy it. However, I’d have to notice the label before the purchase. (Otherwise I’d have to return the shirt.)

Shirt, Label in collar

You might think the design has stabilized, after all, according to the “History of Shirts,” on Wikipedia, we’ve been wearing shirts for 3000 years.

This I suppose, reflects another difference between industrial design and fashion design – industrial design is for new stuff that is still evolving. Fashion design is for stuff the function of which is not changing.  But when you place a label in a shirt, you alter the function. If it’s in the neck, as with one of the shirts described herein, then in addition to “making the wearer look good, and stay warm,” the function becomes, “irritate the wearer.”  I might describe this as torture, but I would not put it in the same category as, say, waterboarding.



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