My journey from Idea to Innovation: Creating the Perfect Urban Bike Jacket
When I started telling people that I developed a bike jacket that I want to sell, the first question that everyone asked was: How did you build the jacket? I also know where that question came from: It's because, I have never done it before. Having no prior experience in the fashion industry, my background was rooted in the digital world. But, as my mother told me early on: You can always find out how to do things and just do them and learn along the way as long as you have determination and will. I was determined to create a product that would combine style, functionality, and affordability.
Step 1: Self-Observation and Brainstorming
The journey began with personal observation. Riding through challenging weather conditions, I started identifying key features that I wished my ideal bike jacket would possess. The first priorities were wind protection and high visibility, ensuring safety during city commutes.
Step 2: Extensive research
To turn my vision into reality, I delved into extensive research. I scoured the market for existing products, discovering good features but none that encompassed everything I envisioned. Existing jackets lacked the specific design elements required for biking, so I broadened my search to other types of apparel like jogging hoodies and trench coats for inspiration.
Step 3: Interviews and Inspiration
Seeking input from fellow cyclists was the next logical step. Through interviews, I gathered valuable insights, confirming the importance of the features and design concepts I had in mind. It was reassuring to hear from others who shared my vision.
Step 4: Design and Fabric Selection
With a clear vision in mind, I began sketching the first prototype and searching for a design studio to bring it to life. A crucial decision was selecting the fabric. Given the need for a material that was wind and water-resistant while remaining breathable, I faced a daunting task. After considering exclusive but expensive recommendations from the design studio, I decided to prioritize affordability to make the jackets accessible to as many riders as possible. Polyester emerged as the ideal choice, boasting impressive qualities, including its 100% recyclability.
Polyester vs. Nylon:
- Polyester Pros: Affordability, recyclability, durability, and water resistance.
- Nylon Pros: Superior strength, abrasion resistance, and flexibility.
- Polyester Cons: Lower strength compared to nylon.
To ensure durability and weather protection, I opted for a 3-layered production of the shell.
This choice was critical to guarantee the jacket's longevity.
Step 5: Prototyping and Testing
Within three months, the first jacket prototype was developed, without branding. Me and my husband rigorously tested it during our daily bike rides, evaluating each feature against my initial checklist, which included 4-way stretch, lightweight design, a hoodie, reflectors, and comfort. Throughout this process, I suggested improvements and changes to the designers, leading to the creation of additional prototypes.
Step 6: Production Partner Selection
As the design evolved, I started searching for reliable Asian producers experienced in outerwear. They provided offers and samples, and after careful consideration, I selected the partner who not only met my budget requirements but also possessed a track record of reliability and expertise.
Step 7: Production and Refinement
With production underway, more samples and adjustments were made. Collaborating closely with the producers, we fine-tuned details and made informed choices about colors and patterns. While some compromises were necessary for scalability reasons, the final product remained true to my original vision.
Throughout this journey, I learned valuable lessons:
- Perfect Vision and Compromises: It's essential to have a clear vision but be open to making compromises. Prioritizing the most crucial features is key.
- Persistence: Creating a great product takes time and persistence. Be prepared to go the extra mile until you're satisfied.
- Balancing Input: Balancing the expertise of designers with your own ideas can be challenging but ultimately rewarding.
- Push until its uncomfortable: When experts claim something can't be done, it's worth pushing for more answers and thinking outside the box.
Now, the first urban bike jacket is ready to meet the world. It's up to our customers to provide feedback and judge the features and design. Our commitment to continuous improvement means that we'll keep refining our products, incorporating new fabrics and materials as they become available. Together, we're enabling more city riders to embrace the joys of cycling and contribute to more livable urban environments.