Flashback to early March this year, impatiently refreshing the track & trace of my shipment from Italy. Honestly, I don’t know if there is anything more nerve wracking than waiting for that first shipment of brand new kits!
The design process of a new collection takes over a year. First of all, I start sketching, because if there’s anything I’ve remembered from university it’s the saying “design is 10% inspiration and 90% transpiration”. Don’t think that I just go for a ride and brilliant ideas pop into my mind that I translate to the drawing table; although this does happen occasionally, however, most of the time I have lock myself into my workroom for a few days to take all the inspiration and ideas I’ve collected in the past months and just start working. This motivation can come from art I’ve visited, graphic design, haute couture or just anything that I think is cool. I sketch loads of different ideas, graphically as well as necessary technical features. Eventually a selection of those sketches are finalized with Adobe Illustrator.
Once I’m happy with my selection I ask friends to have a look at my designs as I can count on their honest feedback. Sometimes I take their feedback to heart, but often not. Even though I’m a bit stubborn, it’s nice to have another pair of eyes looking at my work.
Once I have the finalised designs, it’s time to take-off to Italy. I work with a manufacturer in the north of Italy who has a lot of experience with sportswear, but also casual clothing. It is with this expertise that my manufacturer can create clothing that is more than just the standard cycling clothing. While in Italy, I plan in a whole day to look at different fabrics, materials, elastics, and zippers. We translate the designs from paper to a working prototype. This is always a fun and exciting day, but also hard work making so many decisions in one day.
After a few weeks the samples arrive and I test them myself. I’m critical when it comes to the design and colours as well for the fit and technical aspect of the products given my history of spending so much time in cycling clothing. Normally, the first sample doesn’t reach my expectations and will need to be modified. I make a detailed list of modifications and return the sample to the manufacturer with a list of changes. The improved sample comes back to the Netherlands after several weeks and sometimes, if necessary, a third sample with be produced in the same manner. When I’m satisfied with the final product, the scary part starts… I have to place the production order!
This whole process takes around 6 months, and then there’s more or less six months in between placing the production order and that nerve wrecking moment that I’m actually receiving all the boxes of new kit. The feeling of putting such a product of passion and time is intense, something where I’ve worked on constantly for over a year and then just hope everybody loves it as much as I do!
It’s such a relief to see so many people loving my clothing as much as I do; so much work goes into the design, technical and graphic, and is wonderful to have it be appreciated. I love sending out orders, writing personal notes to anyone so excited about my clothing, and of course receiving notes in return!
IRIS remains a solo project, with help from friends and colleagues, and I cannot express my deep gratitude for those of you that have helped in the years up to this moment, from joining a group ride to deep-into-the-night accounting. Thank you.