Development Dogfight

Friday March 16, 2012

Getting a product through the elaborate maze that is Icon Development is a tricky process.

At any given time in the Icon office, we have a few hundred projects going. Jacket, glove and boot design, helmet shell modeling, catalog design, product and lifestyle photography, hundreds of new graphic and trim applications, test riding, material and pattern analysis, advertising design and strategy, website development, custom bike building, video shooting and editing…LIMITER print and digital….and it goes on.

This is all on different schedules, so while product designers are working on 13sp products, development is finalizing 12fl, print is cataloging 12sp, marketing dept is working 11fl, and purchasing is trying to keep up with orders for 09sp products. It gets confusing as things are constantly evolving. One day a jacket will be scheduled to release 12sp, the next thing you know, we’re holding it back to 13fl. This sends shockwaves throughout all the steps of the process above.

In November ‘09 the Reign Boot started working its way through the process. August ’11 it was released for sale. Pictured below are the first couple years – from early design, through prototypes, then on to advertising. For the future, look for expansions on the Reign platform, new colors and upper designs are forthcoming…which means if we start now – you should see them in 2014.

Illustrator Art circa fall '09 - the computer drawn roadmap begins the long development process.

Proto 1

The first prototype arrives at the Icon office. No plastics or trims and the bottom unit is not from this boot. But the upper looks relatively good so the Design team breaks out their finest silver Sharpies and gets to work disfiguring her.

The second proto of the Reign boot sees great progress. Initial molds for the armor have been completed. Some trims have found their way onto the sample and the materials are much closer to reality. Still - the boot needs more silver Sharpie work.

Proto 3 was a bit of a let down. The silhouette became stove piped, the molds for the bottom unit were still not completed, and a huge argument ensued about the need additional seam lines in the upper pattern. Generally speaking, adding seam lines to an upper allow better material yields and therefore makes the boot cheaper and easier to produce. The Accounting department and the Factory likes this. The Design department does not. Therefore many angry emails would be written between departments. Insults were bandied and lives where threatened. Eventually good taste won out of common sense and the Design team celebrated their victory.

The sample is now equipped with all of it's finished materials, armor, bottom unit, and trims. This is the point where the Design team stands back, rubs their chins, and ponders a multitude of last minute changes.

Getting close - the three clawed cat scratches as originally designed on the sidewall had to go. Ugly can not be allowed to live.

Close but no cigar - we were almost done with the boot when a last second construction issue got the Development team all in a fluster. They had to cut Reign boots in half to diagnose a waterproofing issue, i.e. they were leaking. Once the problem was solved, the boot was approved for production.

Finished ad- courtesy of the aforementioned in-house design and marketing teams - Looks pretty good!