The fashion industry. Best known for its beautiful, sometimes eccentric, clothing and accessories. Beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes—and shoes.

As an industry, there’s more to fashion than the stylish end product. Although people have been wearing clothes for thousands of years, fashion didn’t develop as an industry until the mid-1800s, when industrial technology like factories and the sewing machine made it possible to make clothing in bulk as a more standardized product. Before that, people made their clothing at home or ordered directly from a seamstress.

For many years, the fashion industry has been a global industry. In fact, fashion is one of the largest industries in the U.S.

What’s Included in the Fashion Industry?

While it’s easy to think of fashion as “just” the clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories, there’s actually much more to it than that.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, fashion is comprised of:

  • Design
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution
  • Marketing
  • Retailing
  • Advertising
  • Promotion of all types of apparel (men’s women’s & children’s)
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These phases take place whether the garment is “haute couture” (high fashion), or everyday clothes like sweatshirts and socks.

How Do Fashion Professionals Use Illustrator?

All designs, from shirts to dresses to hats to handbags, begin with a drawing. It used to be that fashion designers would do pencil sketches. These days, most sketching and designing is done with technology.

There are fashion-specific design programs, such as Digital Fashion Pro, but many designers prefer Adobe Illustrator in their daily professional workflows.

Some common Illustrator tasks in the fashion industry include fashion flats & tech sketches, textile & pattern designs, and presentation boards.

Fashion Flats & Tech Sketches

Fashion flats are flat, 2D sketches of a garment. Think of it as a way to visualize the design when it’s lying flat on a table. These black and white sketches include details like style and how to construct the garments, but don’t have a lot of illustrated artsy detail like fashion illustrations.

Flats can be created with or without construction details, such as seam allowances and types of stitching. When these details are included, however, the drawing becomes a Technical Flat used by a factory to make the garment.

Flats & Tech Sketches are often done in Illustrator because of the ability to draw minute details, yet keep the crisp, scalable lines of vector art. It’s also more versatile and affordable than fashion industry design softwares.

Textile Design & Patterns

Within the fashion industry, there are many details designers must think through as they’re designing clothing, as well as patterns. Who hasn’t seen a shirt with a gorgeous pattern that makes you immediately want to wear it? These patterns get created from the beginning, as designers are considering the shape of the particular piece of clothing (or accessory).

Illustrator excels at these tiny details such as dashes and dots, and makes it easy to create beautiful patterns with the Pattern Tool. Using the Pattern Tool, designers can create unique patterns and have them seamlessly repeat throughout the design. Even after the pattern is applied, there are still options to further customize with color, size, and direction of the pattern. These advantages make Illustrator a natural fit for the fashion industry.

Presentation Boards

Fashion presentation boards set the tone or mood for presentations within the industry. They visually represent a trend or idea and can be used for meetings such as buyer presentations, design meetings, or presentation catalogues.

Common aspects of presentation boards include overarching theme, color palette (also called a colorway), fabric options, graphics & images representing the style, and typeface for lettering that fits the theme. These boards also show how the line of garments will look together as a fashion line.

Illustrator is great for creating sketches, graphics, color palettes, and typefaces for these types of projects. Fashion professionals can draw and coordinate all of these aspects directly within the program, and with the artboards feature, they can even lay out multiple options without having to save separate files.

Where to Learn Illustrator for Fashion

If you’re hoping to break into the fashion design world, knowing Illustrator could be a valuable asset for your resume.

Noble Desktop offers a two-day live online or in-person Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Bootcamp. From learning about the tools you need to create fashion flats, creating vector graphics, discovering typography, saving files for web or print, and even designing fashion graphics like concept art and tech packs, this bootcamp is a great starting point for those wanting to learn the software for the fashion industry.

The bootcamp does require a basic working knowledge of Illustrator, so if you’re brand new to the program, you can check out Illustrator in a Day or Illustrator Bootcamp to gain the foundational knowledge you’ll need to be successful in the fashion bootcamp.