Designers and illustrators

Most fashion trends stem from the creative talents of designers and illustrators who use their skills to express the language of fashion to manufacturers and the media. They transfer what is seen in real life to a concise drawing on paper. But there are some distinct differences in the drawing skills that a designer and an illustrator require and these should be clarified.

Fashion Designers design and sketch garments to communicate their ideas to a design team - pattern makers, sample machinists, and buyers. They need to be able to draw well to make their designs understood, but they do not necessarily need to excel in the more stylised art of fashion drawing. The fashion designer discusses the designs with the pattern maker, patterns are drafted and sample garments produced. After various meetings and corrections to the designs, these garments are shown to the buyers for final approval before manufacturing (see my forthcoming book Fashion Designer - Design Techniques, Catwalk to Street, and website: www.fashionbooks.info).

A designer must always be aware of the latest clothing, colour and fabric trends and be able to interpret these into styles for a particular customer and target market, for example; Winter sportswear for teens, Summer suits for career wear, and most importantly design clothing that, once in store, the customer will buy Consequently, although a designer needs to be able to draw well, the emphasis is on the commercial design of the garment and not so much the artistic illustration.

Fashion Illustrators, by contrast, give a signature style to a fashion designer's creation. Using their creative drawing skills, they build on and enhance these basic fashion sketches. Their art work may be used for: a fashion design presentation, an advertisement, a marketing presentation or as a journalistic visual representation, presenting not only the illustration of the garment design but the total concept. Fashion illustration is a commercial art form in its own right, a way to express and accentuate a fashion design to present to a client.

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