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Long before you buy a garment in the store, it's already been through a process that runs from the drawing board to the board room to the factory floor. In fact, the garment may have been dreamed up as long as a year ago. People who work in product development decide which styles and colors to pursue, even before they may be in fashion. Let's look at some of the most typical jobs.

Trend Analysis

What will everyone be wearing next year? Styles, colors and patterns are determined months in advance by the trend analyzer. This person researches the latest textile trends, and determines the overall look of garments that will be produced by a company during a season. A trend analyzer needs excellent fashion sense and a good deal of experience, most often as a designer.

Product Development Manager

This person takes garments from the drawing board to the consumer. The product development manager oversees the entire process, and manages the other people involved in product development. He or she is in charge of a company's product lines, and meets the needs of retailers. A product development manager must have a great deal of experience, know every aspect of the development process, and have strong leadership abilities.

Technical Designer

The technical designer translates the vision of the designer into reality. It's their job to make sure a particular garment can actually be manufactured efficiently and within budget. A technical designer helps develop the prototype that subsequent garments are based upon. They must have creativity, excellent color and fashion sense, strong communication skills, and be knowledgeable about computers.

Pattern Maker

A pattern maker works closely with the designer to create master patterns for the desired design. In effect, a pattern maker must translate the designer's sketch into the real world. Pattern makers must have good visualization skills, and be familiar with fabric and body construction. Experience is usually gained as an assistant to a pattern maker.

Cost Analyst

The cost analyst determines how much it will cost to produce a given item. They must factor in several variables, including the price of material and how much the item will cost to produce. Cost analysts must be good at mathematics. The job often involves travel. Depending on the company, cost analysts may be actual engineers, or the duties may be performed by another employee, such as the designer.

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