Draper James Finds a Gap
The Draper James website describes the brand as “a nod to Witherspoon’s Southern upbringing.” The company aims to “emphasize Southern roots and personal style.” They’re focused on bringing contemporary, timeless Southern style to your wardrobe and your home. Although the company’s main focus is on women’s clothing, it became apparent, through an ongoing dialogue with their customers both on social channels and through customer service, that there was demand for a children’s line. After brainstorming about how to meet that demand, it became clear that the best solution was to partner with a highly innovative group that would think outside the typical design process.
One of the biggest challenges the Draper James design team encountered was meeting the strict guidelines and safety specifications that children's clothes need to meet. Draper James recognized the need for an experienced, established partner who could reduce any potential hazards and liabilities.
Establishing the Goals
Picking the Partners
Draper James started this project in August of 2017 and launched the collection in June of 2018, with a strategy to create the best collection to fit the needs of their customer through strategic collaboration. Students from the Savannah College of Art and Design provided innovative design concepts with a unique Southern perspective. Rockets of Awesome lent their expertise in designing for the modern child, plus a deep knowledge of the specifications needed in order to produce kids’ clothes. Rockets of Awesome then produced the kids’ clothes, and Draper James produced the coordinating dresses for Mom. The result was a high quality product that launched with the added bonus of exposure from their industry partners.
The Journey Towards Expanding An Offering
Draper James was delighted to provide SCAD students with real-world design experience to help them become more eligible and effective job candidates. Draper James’ head of design and Katherine Brodie visited SCAD 3-4 times (at the beginning, middle, and end of the class) to introduce them to the design challenge and to help guide them through the process.
One important thing to note: In the midst of the collaboration, Draper James shifted their corporate strategy. After surveying their customers, they lowered their prices and broadened their product assortment to include a more casual and less event-driven offering. The SCAD CLC class had to adapt their designs and product plans halfway through the course to meet the new corporate plan. This offered students an additional layer of real world experience.
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