Each Obus print since the brand began in 1998 is a product of Obus founder and creative director Kylie Zerbst's hand. So after twenty years, what has Kylie learned about the world of textile patterns? Here, she shares her top five tips for creating a killer fashion textile design.
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Consider the fabric
Across our collections, our original prints are often spread across our favourite fabrics - cotton jersey, viscose, bamboo/cotton, and linen. Choosing which print will work with which fabric is quite a considered part of the design process. Geometric designs and bold colours really ‘pop’ on jersey - TWO WORLDS is a great example of this - while the drape of Viscose only suits certain textile designs. Because we have moved towards digital printing for most of our textile designs - a method that is more environmentally friendly than screen printing - there is no limit to the colours we can use. However, a more textural fibre such a linen will suit a pattern that can mask or work with the natural slubs present in the fabric. It’s a big puzzle and the first challenge in designing a collection!
Play with scale
When designing a print for Obus, I spend quite a bit of time playing with scale. I love to make the features of a print really big - TELL ME A STORY is a good example of this. With a large scale print, it’s highly likely your Obus garment is completely unique, because every piece is cut from the fabric in a different place. Having said that, sometimes a smaller more detailed print can work just as well. WANDERER, a print that has undergone a few evolutions over our 20-year history, is a good example. Bigger is not always better (but it usually is ;))
Colour can make or break a print
Colour is a huge feature of our collections, and often I’ll review multiple colour options for a single print with my team before making a final decision. After so many years, I believe it’s often the thing that makes or breaks a print. I’m influenced by a range of things when devising the colour combinations across a collection - from current trends, to my own favourite hues… but I always aim for something unexpected. In combination with the textile design and fabric, the colours can really help take a garment to the next level!
Ensure your digital file is technically correct
Sketching, drawing, designing and refining a print concept is the fun part, but getting it onto fabric is quite a technical process! Each fabric and design requires digital artwork files to be set up in different way, and communication with our printers to get the best result is key. Sometimes colours that I see onscreen will look completely different printed on fabric, so the digital file setup has to work in reverse. It can be a headache at times! But when those first samples arrive and the print gets closer to ‘the real thing’, is one of my favourite parts of designing the collection.
Make it personal
There are millions of textile designs out there, but I truly believe the best designs come from the heart. Reviewing the prints I’ve created since Obus began for the LOVE OBUS collection was a moving experience. Each one is imbued with so much of Obus’ life story: the destination it was inspired by; something cultural I was curious about at the time; or even how difficult it was to bring the textile idea to life! Just like art, designing a textile print that relates to something you’ve seen, felt, experienced or are passionate about will always yield the best results. So let your mind wander and see what comes!
Shop all the latest Obus prints here. Images feature prints from our upcoming collection, launching soon!