Soft Goods Design 101


In the world of retail products, goods and products are divided into two categories: soft goods and hard goods.

With only two somewhat blanketed terminologies like these, it can often create a little confusion as to what products fall into each category. What are soft goods and what are hard goods?

However, the names “soft” and “hard” should be able to give you some kind of indication of the kinds of things they entail, right? For example, when you think of soft goods you probably think of products like clothing and textile goods: things that are quite literally soft. 

Not so fast. While many goods and products that are soft to the touch fall into the soft goods category, using that as strict criteria won’t quite give you the entire view.

Here is a comprehensive guide to soft goods design and everything you need to know.


What are Soft Goods?


Your initial thought as to what soft goods are isn’t wrong, it just doesn’t tell the whole story. By definition, soft goods are products constructed using primarily (but not exclusively) non-rigid, soft, and comfortable materials. These materials lend themselves to the construction of materials designed to possess qualities such as ergonomics, comfort, wearability, cushion, and aesthetic value.

Soft goods are constructed through a variety of methods. In addition to sewing, the primary method based on the materials used, soft goods can also be constructed using ultrasonic or heat welding, computer-controlled knitting and weaving, injection and compression molding, mechanical fastening, and bonding. 

So while this does encompass textiles like clothing, blankets, towels, and comforters, it also includes materials such as rubber, paper, foam, and even gels. Therefore, products such as shoes, luggage, furniture, and more. Even items such as sporting goods and even electronics such as gaming and virtual reality headsets are considered soft goods because their primary use is being to be worn.

Hard goods, as you can now likely imagine, are the opposite: constructed goods using materials like plastics, metals, wood, or composite materials. 

It is also important to note that due to the materials used soft goods are typical of limited durability, depending on the product. Products like shoes may only have a lifespan of a year or two because of the wear and tear they experience while a comforter could last a decade, however, each will ultimately have a date in which they will deteriorate. 


What to consider when designing Soft Goods?


When it comes to the design of soft goods, which many consumers and businesses alike will look to have custom-made, there are several process steps and special considerations that go into the construction of the final product.

The soft goods design process begins with the design, which will detail important considerations to the product construction. This can include which materials will be used based on the application, location, and size of seam allowances and tolerances based on durability needs, and design pattern based on aesthetic specifications.

For example, the materials used for textile products will need to be chosen between woven and knitted fabrics based on the required stretch, strength, environmental factors based on where it will be used (i.e moisture-resistant qualities), and of course health and human safety requirements. 

Once all of these variables are taken into account and resolved in the design phase, soft goods designers will create a prototype of the product that is tested to ensure the quality of the design in application — not just on paper. Once any adjustments are made, and the prototype is vetted and approved, the order for the desired soft goods will be produced to meet the desired quantity and order.

Based on the product, the size of the order, and other factors, the soft goods design process can take several days to several weeks.


Working with a soft goods designer


Soft goods designers can come from a variety of different backgrounds. When you are looking into working with a soft goods designer, it is important to take their specialty and body of work into consideration before you make your choice.

Some soft goods designers specialize in clothing, apparel, or accessory design while others may work primarily with textiles or industrial production. There are similar others that may work primarily in the world of automotive interior soft goods, footwear, home soft goods, and even juvenile products. Depending on the area of their specialization, some designers may be more qualified to tackle your soft goods design project.

At Fairway Products, we specialize in a wide range of soft goods design and manufacturing with a long portfolio of experience working across a variety of industries and products from office furniture, recreational vehicles, seed sheets, spa products, and more. 

When you turn to Fairway Products for your soft goods design, you take part in our proven soft goods design process that puts our expertise to work for you from design to assembly line.

Our team of experts will join forces with you to determine the best materials and specifications to make the best product for your needs. Our design and development process utilizes highly effective and efficient technology to make products better, faster, and for a price that’s within your budget.

If you are in need of soft goods manufacturing and need the help of a proven soft goods designer to complete your project the right way, contact us today.

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