PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT – THE ‘F’ WORDS. NUMBER FIVE – FUNCTION
Arguably the most important of the five ‘F’ words we follow is function. You could say that the first function of any piece of clothing is to stop you being naked, which is a good start. The overriding function of any Morvélo clothing though is to make you look good, both in terms of graphic design and product design.
With our casual clothing the function is pretty straight forward and often intentionally so. T-shirts are a staple item of anyones wardrobe and we aim to create a range of designs that speak to the different riders in all of us, whether an 18 year old dirt jumper or 45 year old road cyclist. The passion for cycling remains the same no matter what your age, but the varied culture means that everyone’s take on cycling is different. We love it all and ride it all (and it’s not just a marketing angle) so we want to show this through the the graphics that adorn our tees.
The function of a t-shirt, in our eyes, is to communicate a message. Plain and simple, so we stop short of making the function stretch beyond that. So we don’t make the back slightly longer and don’t add in rear pockets for example. We understand why some brands do but we choose not to because we think that functionally, it doesn’t work. We created our Technical Tees though because we found that quicker drying t-shirts are actually incredibly useful, from the commute to work to the skatepark.
Functionality in our minds, goes hand in hand with simplicity and necessity. We want to create products that work well but without the fuss. So even though it could be nice to have a separate jersey pocket for a pump, we don’t do it as it restricts the capacity of the central pocket and actually makes the jersey less adaptable. We do use a zipped hidden rear pocket however. This is sized just enough to hold your phone and keys and placed in the side seam. Why? Because after testing we found that this is the easiest place to reach. Zipped pockets, on the outside of the rear pockets themselves, require a greater stretch and are far more awkward. It may look distinctive but it doesn’t function well enough.
The temptation is to stick numerous extras onto a product, so that it looks impressive when you read the list of ‘Features’ but actually adds little. We question ourselves every time we add something. What does this add? Is it necessary? It is much the same questioning that goes into our graphic design. Everything needs to be there for a reason. There must be a justification for it.
For our MTB Trail Jersey we use a S-biner clip in the solitary rear pocket. Again this is sized so it can hold your phone and keys but because of the looser fit over our race jerseys, we added the S-biner so it could be used to hang your keys from, meaning that the pocket would keep it shape and the contents wouldn’t be cluttered. So there was a temptation to add this to our normal jerseys, adding another feature onto the list to entice the customer. In fact we did test it but found that there was no need for it. The tighter fit of our normal jerseys means that all the contents of the pockets stay in place already. Also the position of the pockets at the rear means that to access the S-biner clip was far more difficult. On our MTB jersey the pocket sits more to the side so it doesn’t get in the way of a backpack. This also means it is far easier to access and clip keys onto.
Function? Reason? Necessity? Any features must answer these three questions to make sure all our products have a solid reasoning for functioning as they do, leaving just one thing left. The graphic design. But then that’s another story …