Do Graphic Designers Make Clothes?

Have you ever really thought about what’s involved in making clothes? There’s the fabric, buttons, and zippers, of course. Before you get to the actual sewing part, though, a lot of work goes into designing the piece. Fashion designers come to mind first, but have you ever wondered if graphic designers make clothes too?

Graphic designers make clothes in the sense that they work closely with fashion designers to create designs, patterns, textures, and color combinations for fabrics. They also design the custom graphics and logos that are popular on T-shirts and other clothing.

If you’re interested in blending a love of fashion with your skills in graphic design, read on to find out if graphic designers have a place in the fashion industry.

The Place of Graphic Design in Fashion

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about fashion and clothes-making are the designers who conceptualize a new piece of clothing and bring it to life on paper patterns. Then you might admire those who can take that pattern and cut and sew fabric to create a final piece. Fashion designers and seamstresses, sure. But where do graphic designers fit into this process?

The Interaction Design Foundation defines graphic design as “creating visual content to communicate messages.” In the traditional sense, this means using color, images, and typography in print media to draw in and inform the user. More recently, graphic design uses these same tools in electronic form such as websites and mobile apps.

Much of fashion and clothing is art. It just happens to be worn on the body. In the fashion world, graphic designers may not actually be hands-on when it comes to making and sewing clothing, but they use their knowledge of color, typography, and layout to design fabrics and customized art and logos that become wearable art.

A Reader’s Digest article suggests that the fashion industry depends a lot on the creativity and skill of graphic designers. Let’s see how.

Designing Patterns and Color Combinations in Fabrics

A fashion designer is the one who has the original inspiration for a particular piece of clothing, whether it is a shirt, a dress, a hat or shoes. A graphic designer, however, plays a key role in taking the idea and making it a reality.

The creativity of graphic designers speaks to our need to stand out and look different from everyone else. We want our clothing to be unique, reflecting our personalities, and graphic designers help make clothing that succeeds in doing so.

Working with the fashion expert, a graphic designer will provide input into what colors work well together and provide expertise on getting just the right color saturation or tone to achieve the desired effect.

Graphic designers can also create patterns – florals, geometrics, polka dots, and such – that are then transferred onto the fabric used to make the clothing. Fabric textures are also influenced by the elements of graphic design.

Designing Customized Art and Logos

Creating customized art and logos has always been a staple in the wheelhouse of a graphic designer. This art is usually found in print and web publications, but has found its way into the fashion industry as well.

Ever been to a T-shirt shop in any major city or at the beach? The racks are bursting with shirts, hats, bags, jackets, and other clothing items adorned with art. Yep, all done by a graphic designer. From designing T-shirts to iconic brand identities (think Nike’s swoosh or Under Armour’s double U logo), graphic designers make clothing that is wearable art with marketing power.

In working with fashion designers on regular clothing and with corporations with recognizable brands, graphic designers use their skills and knowledge of layout, colors, and fonts to:

  • Design original works of art that can be used on any type of clothing
  • Place logos and art on articles of clothing to maximize marketing effectiveness and aesthetic appearance
  • Creating and tweaking brand logos as needed by a company’s clothing line

Designing Fashion Shows

There’s a lot that goes into a fashion show before the models ever step on the runway. The clothes, of course, have to be designed and made, often with the help of a graphic designer. But the big assist that graphic designers provide at shows is designing the stage backdrop, props, and multimedia effects.

Final Thoughts

Graphic designers may not be in the workroom bent over a sewing machine actually stitching a garment together, but that doesn’t mean they have no place in the fashion industry. The talent for combining colors and patterns that are pleasing to the eye make them an essential part of making clothes of any kind.