Basic Concepts of Fashion Design

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Fashion design focuses on apparel and custom ornamentation depending on culturally and socially accepted standards within a particular period. In contrast to costume design, fashion design creates seasonal products and follows several basic concepts.

High Fashion

High fashion, or “haute couture” in French, focuses on custom-made garments. It is restricted for use in referring to fashion enterprises that meet official standards. Although the proliferation of lower quality ready-to-wear and mass produced apparel claiming to be haute couture has become common, this does not tarnish the principle of what genuine haute-couture dressing aims for, which is “made-to-measure” for clients. The concept behind high fashion is that each designer creates clothing and accessories for a specific client and it does not consider the time it takes to create the clothes or the expensiveness of material. One of the most well-known high fashion designers is the late Bijan Pakzad, who used to make clothes for several presidents of the United States, including Obama.


Ready-to-wear lies between high fashion and mass market. Although not tailor-made to client specifications, fabric selection and patterns are still observed. Production is restricted to relatively few pieces, which results to higher costs. Houses of fashion present ready-to-wear pieces every season. Popular fashion shows, which include the New York Fashion Week that is usually held around February, exhibit ready-to-wear clothing. Mass market selling inspires quantity production of ready-to-wear items in standard fit. Mass market producers hew to existing popular fashion names and mass produce garments after high-fashion fever increases.

Design Concepts and Utility

Fashion is considered a utilitarian art form, which means that it combines aesthetics with the item’s functionality. Choice of fabric and materials does not only entail how good it will look, but how the wearer will feel while wearing the item. The value, quality and characteristics of materials are also considered. For example, creating a silk dress usually requires more subtle styles and decorations, as opposed to creating a winter jacket made of thick wool. Design ideas also depend on the current fashion trend, as dictated by major popular designers such as Dolce and Gabbana or Louis Vuitton and the current trend of popular culture.

Style and Distinct Branding

The concept of style in fashion design varies from designer to designer. Popular fashion designers are often known for their distinct styles that always appear on the clothes that they release for the season. Aside from logos, distinct marks and designs, designers also often integrate common styles to all their fashion products. For example, Prada is known to combine different classical styles to produce modern creations.