Miik is a small, agile, women-run company where our team members wear a lot of hats. Although co-founder and creative director Donna Smith is the official designer, she is definitely a team player when it comes to designing each collection. “We really take in the ongoing feedback from our sales reps, retailers and online customers and I truly believe the collection is always better for it”, says Donna.
Our company is a lot like a family, where all ideas are heard. “We work really hard, but there’s lots of silliness and a lot of fun. And dogs, always dogs!” Fashion is a constantly evolving and often challenging industry but that’s what keeps us on our toes. It keeps us exploring, innovating, adapting and trying to do better. Here’s how our creative process comes together, all right here in Canada!
Colours, fabrics and prints
A full year ahead of the launch of each collection, Donna is already deciding on colours, fabrics, prints and stripes. This creative process involves multiple moving parts that all have to work together to form a cohesive collection. Donna starts with the development of a range of hand drawn and digital concepts for new prints and patterns—from geometric to organic, neutral palettes to full colour.
The top 6 or 7 designs are digitally mocked up on a garment to help the team visualize the finished product. Once the prints have been chosen, we then decide on colours and which new fabrics we want to feature. We order lab dips and strike-offs, which are samples used to approve new fabric colours and prints. In the end, we land on 3 or 4 colour stories, which are like mini collections each based on their own colour palette and which work together to form the overall seasonal collection.
After we have ordered our custom fabrics for sampling, Donna starts designing each garment in the collection. Her inspiration comes from a variety of places—from traveling abroad, to design details she has seen in a store or on a person's outfit. Sometimes it comes to her when she first wakes up in the morning, so she keeps a notepad on her bedside table and quickly sketches out her vision before she forgets. Donna’s focus is combining design elements in a unique way that offers versatility, longevity and comfort; a mission that is distinctly Miik.
The Miik team—including Donna, our president Sue, and our production manager Jodi—meet with Barb, our product developer, to review sketches and decide which pieces will proceed to sampling. At this point, we like to ensure we have a wide range of silhouettes that flatter a variety body types. Barb sets to work on drafting patterns and creating samples so that our team can see how each piece fits and determine any necessary alterations. Fit is key at Miik: a few minor tweaks can result in a garment being significantly more flattering, offer better coverage, or appeal to a wider range of body types.
Rather than using a model for our sample fittings, Donna herself is the fit model. This ensures our designs are not just flattering on a traditional size 2 model, but work on a shape and size that is representative of our customers. Barb truly is a genius—she knows exactly how we like our designs to look and fit and always brings added value to our original sketches. Getting to see our designs come to life is better than Christmas!
After all the designs have been approved and final samples are made in our custom milled fabrics, it’s time to plan the photoshoot for our lookbook, a catalog that shows every garment in the collection. Twice a year we hire a photographer, models, makeup artist and stylist for a 3-4 day photoshoot. The whole team gets to see all their hard work come to life and it’s an absolute blast.
After the shoot, Donna chooses the best photos and she and the team set to work retouching, writing product descriptions and laying out the lookbook. The final lookbooks are sent to our sales reps so they can begin selling the collection to our retailers. We also use these photos for the product pages on our website. It's very important to us that the images accurately represent each garment's fit and colour, so we spend a lot of time making sure we get it right. We have also started using photos of community models—everyday women who aren't in the modelling industry—for our website and on social media, so our customers can see our clothes on a greater variety of body types.
After most of our retailers submit their orders, we begin ordering fabric and finalizing and grading the patterns. This starts 5 to 6 months before the collection is released. We work locally with two fabric mills, a dye house, and six sewing manufacturers. Since we produce locally, we are able to oversee all areas of production. We regularly visit the following:
- the mill to see our fabric being knit
- the dye house to assess colours
- our sample studio to check fit and make alterations
- all our sewing studios to do quality control on final garments
- our warehouse to check on inventory and fulfillment
Custom milling in Canada has become more difficult and costly over the years. Fewer and fewer textile and apparel manufacturers remain in Canada as brands turn to inexpensive overseas labour. But to us, the benefits to keeping Miik close to home far outweigh the obstacles. Just as importantly, we feel good about supporting the employment of local tradespeople in an industry struggling to survive in Canada. Read more about why Miik is made locally.
The final step before garments are packaged and sent to our warehouse is quality control. We have an incredibly strict quality control ("QC" for short) process, ensuring only the highest quality goods make it to our customer’s closets. Our production manager Jodi and her team meticulously examine every single garment before they're shipped.
Any finished garments that don’t pass our strict quality inspection are sold at a discount in our bi-annual seconds sale. It's very important to us that no garment goes to waste, even those with flaws and imperfections. We also see the seconds sale as an opportunity for those who otherwise don't have the budget for ethical fashion to purchase some of our clothing at a significant discount. Any seconds that are leftover from the sale or have major flaws are worn by the Miik team and our friends and family.
As you can see, the clothing industry is a labour of love, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love what we do and it’s hugely rewarding to hear from our customers that they couldn’t live without their Miik clothes. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us a DM on Instagram or Facebook.
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