From concept to creation with Dior product developers

Insider tips and strategies for success in fashion Product Development from Giada Tomelleri and Silvia Torrini's exclusive lecture at Polimoda

From concept to creation with Dior product developers

Insider tips and strategies for success in fashion Product Development from Giada Tomelleri and Silvia Torrini's exclusive lecture at Polimoda

Final year Undergraduate in Fashion Business student Adeena Borukhovich describes how this guest lecture helped her gain a better understanding of fashion Product Development from start to finish, opening her eyes to the sheer creativity of the role and encouraging herself and her peers to approach a career in fashion with a positive and collaborative outlook.

On a rainy Monday morning at 9am, students from various Polimoda courses filled the Aula Magna at Manifattura Tabacchi. Despite the gloomy weather, the turnout was impressive, proving we were all eager and excited to learn from Giada Tomelleri and Silvia Torrini, Product Development Supervisors for Christian Dior Men’s Leather Goods and Special Projects.

Dior Product Development Guest Lecture
Dior Product Development Guest Lecture

Silvia Torrini’s journey into the world of fashion began with a degree in fashion design and knitwear from Polimoda in 2009; you could tell she was honored and emotional to be speaking and sharing insight with the next generation of students at Polimoda. Before starting her position at Christian Dior in 2021, she worked in impressive roles in the product development sector at companies such as Ferragamo and Versace. Giada Tomelleri, on the other hand, graduated with a communications science degree from the University of Verona. Despite her degree in a different field, she pursued her fashion aspirations through independent study – dedicating her free time to courses in modeling and sketching. Her determination, passion, and hard work has led her to work in fascinating fashion product development roles at companies such as LCB Company and Burberry London prior to starting at Dior in 2021.

With their wealth of industry know-how and experience, Dior’s team were well-equipped and enthusiastic to provide insights into the collection development process, the role of a product developer, and the essential skills needed to excel as one in the fashion industry.

Dior Product Development Guest Lecture
Dior Product Development Guest Lecture

They took us through the collection development process: from ideation, to the merchandising focus, and the design and merchandising brief – defined by Giada Tomelleri as “the product developer’s bible”, used to start the product development stage. They emphasized a key aspect of the product developer role in fashion as transforming ideas into tangible products. The importance of feasibility within their roles was also underlined. It is in their hands and expertise to determine whether, based on design, merchandising goals, target price, materials and other components, the given product can be brought from concept to reality, aiming to ensure that all parties of the collection development process are satisfied. Having had classes in fashion product development, merchandising and trend forecasting throughout my years at Polimoda, it was fulfilling and motivating to see the interconnected nature of the various roles in this process, it truly brought all my learnings to life.

Giada Tomelleri, Dior Product Development Supervisor in Aula Magna at Manifattura Tabacchi
Giada Tomelleri, Dior Product Development Supervisor in Aula Magna at Manifattura Tabacchi

Once we understood the process of collection development, Dior’s product developers delved into the specific tasks of a product developer and what their day-to-day looks like. Working in a team of 6, their main roles consist of assisting designers in launching sketches, proto development throughout multiple phases, as well as coordinating both internal and external teams. For product developers, it is important to own and stick to the time and action calendar because they work on multiple main collections at the same time along with smaller capsules. We were all impressed by how they manage their time and energy. They both highlighted that every collection needs the same energy, and their team needs to have an eye on everything at all times! Furthermore, we really appreciated Giada Tomelleri’s analogies as they made understanding the technical terms easier and more straightforward – for example, she emphasized the importance of the BOM (bill of materials) when generating the collection plan, which she said is like “a grocery list of all components of a product”. Lastly, they mentioned that unsurprisingly problems often arise and it is essential to be an on the spot problem solver, “you have to take every problem as an opportunity” – proving optimism and positive thinking is key!

You have to take every problem as an opportunity
Giada Tomelleri and Silvia Torrini
Dior Product Developers

In the dynamic world of collection and product development, our lecturers highlighted the pivotal roles of communication and collaboration. From the very start to the very end of the process, collaboration is key. They are constantly in meetings and in contact with the other “actors” from many different teams like the design team, the technical department, merchandising and production. “We are nothing without our artisans”, Silvia Torrini remarked. They painted a clearer picture of where fashion product development lies in the collaborative process, sandwiched right in between the commercial part (merchandising) and the creative part (design) while constantly trying to satisfy all parties. When asked how they manage being the mediator between the creative and merchandising, they replied with 3 key tips: the first is to exercise patience, the second is to be less practical and more sensitive, and lastly to always propose multiple options for both teams – in their words, “this is the art of communicating!”

Coming into the lecture with no expectations other than an open-mind to learn more, I left the lecture with not only insights into the role of a product developer, but feeling inspired, with a clear vision of what it looks like to truly enjoy what you do and how vital it is to find a role in the industry that allows you to feel this way! After hearing in-depth about their busy day-to-day schedules and multitude of tasks they have to juggle all at once, someone in the audience had a very important question. When asked “are you happy?”, both of Dior’s product developers immediately answered “yes”! This was clearly reflected through their impactful lecture and their advice to us for our professional futures.

Credits

Written by:

Special thanks

  • Giada Tomelleri, Dior Product Development Supervisor
  • Silvia Torrini, Dior Product Development Supervisor