In an interesting guest article from ITC, Rajnish Kumar and Richa Sharma explore the benefits PLM could bring to the Hollywood industry. Rajnish Kumar is the Global Practice Head – Retail Consulting, Soft Goods at ITC Infotech; Richa Sharma is a Process Consultant for Retail, Soft Goods at ITC Infotech.
Unbelievable but true: the recent rage in menswear fashion is inspired from the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service. Matthew Vaughn, who directed the film and Arianne Phillips, the costume designer, teamed with MR PORTER, an online luxury menswear retailer, to create a new menswear label. The 60-piece collection includes suits, watches, ties, umbrellas and briefcases which were used in the actual film. So, viewers who loved Kingsman costumes and accessories can now buy the same outfits and accessories for themselves. There are reports that the film-inspired collection is already selling like hot cakes and there are plans for more collections, which will ideally precede further Kingsman films. In fact, according to a BBC report in February 2015, after the Kingsman screening, sales of formal double-breasted menswear suits increased by 64% in South Korea, in comparison to sales during 2014. By creating Kingsman: The Secret Service Agent, Matthew Vaughn has actually changed the business of film-inspired clothing forever.
Be it Kingsman or any other film or TV series, costumes play a very important role in storytelling. It becomes even more important if the film or TV production is a fantasy, a historical period drama or a work of science fiction. The attire and the background bring out the character’s persona and the mood before we even begin the story. This also implies that there is a great amount of detail and effort that goes into evolving the costumes to keep up with the storyline. It is no surprise that the costume directors must have had sleepless nights to design, sample and manufacture costumes for Game of Thrones, The Tudors, Troy, Gladiator and such other classics.
How does costume design and production work for a movie or TV series?
Costume designing begins at the pre-production stage of a movie. Costume designers discuss and understand the story, its characters and come up with an inspiration for the costumes. Based on the time period, an extensive research of silhouettes, fashion trends, fabrics and color palettes for that era is carried out for an appropriate look. Costume designers then visualize the costumes with sketches and fabric samples. They analyze the script scene by scene, define the costume requirements of each character involved, and develop the vision boards and color palettes. Then these are presented to the director, production designer, camera team, make-up department, set, and lighting designers. Once the designs are approved, costume designers start working on creating the costumes. This has to be achieved within strict budgets, and tight schedules.
To manufacture the final products, designers employ material suppliers and costume manufacturers, communicate their requirements and negotiate the terms. They arrange fitting sessions for the lead actors and the cast, supervise material purchase and costume manufacturing, and ensure that costumes are ready before the deadline. Production houses usually have multiple movies or TV series’ running simultaneously, which makes it even more challenging for their costume designers. There are times when the crew is working from across different locations, countries, or continents and hence, collaboration is critical. Missed or delayed production schedule can affect their current as well as subsequent projects.
Throughout the production process, costume designers ensure that accurate financial records are maintained and expenditure reports are produced and tracked.
Is a method in this madness even possible?
Is there a way to bring efficiency into costume designing and the production process of the movie and television industry? For a TV series or a film with a contemporary theme – e.g. Breaking Bad, The Big Bang Theory, Fast and Furious – costume designing is not a challenging aspect of production. Such production houses can do the job with inventory management tools available in the market. However for fantasy, historical period dramas or sci-fi productions, the effort which goes into developing costumes and themes is tremendous.
So far, no enterprise tool has attempted to understand this complex business of making costumes for movies. But if we look at it, the problems posed above are very similar to the ones faced by designers from the retail industry. For the retail industry, PLM has proven to improvise the complete product development and sourcing process with improved timelines, reduced scrap and rework, lower costs, and better tracking. Since the retail industry is already reaping extensive benefits of PLM, can we employ a Hollywood version of PLM into simplifying costume design for a hitherto untapped market?
Here is a list of usual tasks that go into costume designing. PLM’s capabilities when customized to fit with movie or TV production requirements should address their needs effectively and help manage these tasks better.
How will PLM make costume designing more efficient?
1) How costumes can be created in PLM?
2) How costume making is simplified with PLM?
All of this and the movie collection can be later launched in stores just like Kingsman, where PLM can also play a key role in:
- Re-use of Documents & Outfits
- Technical Specification Development
- Sourcing and Costing
- Creation of Collections/Catalogs
PLM, which has already established itself as a ‘must-have’ in the fashion industry, can be highly beneficial for the movie business as well. Fashion has been following the stars for long – isn’t it time things happen the other way around!