Designing a fashion website

Kay Nielsen’s 18th century artistic depic­tions of Scandinavian fairytales.

To say that fash­ion websites are a bit out of my comfort zone is a defin­ite under­state­ment. For all that I’ve occa­sion­ally been accused of being styl­ish (rarely, I might add, and mostly in the over­coat depart­ment), under­stand­ing the fash­ion audi­ence is a diffi­cult intu­it­ive leap for someone whose usual choices revolve around two ques­tions: a) will it fit and b) is it avail­able in black?

My client was Gerry Quinton — a corset-maker, seam­stress and tailor extraordin­aire. I’d also built her previ­ous website, but her work had shif­ted in a new direc­tion since then and the site was in need of a complete overhaul.

I found there’s an addi­tional dimen­sion when it comes to work­ing with an artistic client — someone with the very precise ideas of colour and form that come with doing their job — but with little exper­i­ence of apply­ing their three dimen­sional skills to the two dimen­sional web.

We went through several iterations before we hit on one with potential, and that came about because of a picture we found that perfectly encapsulated the mood my client wanted to capture for people visiting her website — a sense of magic, ethereal beauty and longing.

This helped us develop a cent­ral style for the website which we were both relat­ively happy with. But as with most websites, without content, it was diffi­cult to see the full potential.

The fash­ion industry is heav­ily image-based, and my client needed the right images (and the right words) to prop­erly real­ise the website. This took time to collate — my client had a good, solid set of images from previ­ous photoshoots but some of them were not high resol­u­tion enough for what we had in mind. As she’d recently moved to Chicago and her photo­grapher contacts were in London, we had to wait for a return visit to get the beau­ti­ful photo­graphs of her latest work that made the website complete.

In the mean­time we worked on the text. Often a neglected art, my client instead refined it again and again — taking success­ive round of feed­back from me, from friends in the industry, from a busi­ness course she atten­ded, and from her busi­ness partner.

When you’re developing a website like this, the photographs tell perhaps 90 per cent of the story — but the last ten per cent that is text is the hardest fought — and so it should be. It’s the closer, the deal clincher, it takes a website visitor from being merely interested to being an investor.

It was designed using an adap­ted WordPress template. If the website is likely to be subject to a consid­er­able amount of updat­ing, word­press is my free CMS of choice, mostly due to it’s high level of usab­il­ity for those without coding experience.

So without further ado, here’s the website itself —

On a computer (rather than a tablet or phone), the images are grey­scale at first. On hover they burst into full-coloured life, hope­fully compel­ling exploration.

Screenshot 2014-10-26 11.31.01Screenshot 2014-10-26 11.31.11

Each indi­vidual picture has a person­al­ised explan­a­tion, and an encour­age­ment to explore custom­isa­tion options and contact the designer:

Screenshot 2014-10-26 11.34.16

Gerry can easily update pictures, galler­ies, and text. Very few elements are hard-coded. She also writes a blog — a place to put explor­a­tions of her corsetry meth­ods — often derived from very close study of histor­ical garment making — and her travels in the name of good corsetry.

I’m still work­ing on mobile optim­isa­tion, but hope­fully that should be ready in the next couple of months.

In the mean­time, feel free to enjoy the site on tablet and computer!

The follow­ing two tabs change content below.

Corinne Pritchard

Information Designer at Simply Understand
I believe design and design­ers can and should make the world a better place. I love design­ing things that help people under­stand complex ideas.

Latest posts by Corinne Pritchard (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.