Fashion Design Software: Getting Technical to Get Creative

by Laura Horwitz
Fashion School Review Columnist

March 10, 2010

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Computer-aided design (CAD) has become increasingly common in the fashion industry. It allows designers to view their clothing design on virtual models, which enables them to tweak the color, shape, and even the cut without the time and expense required to build out a new prototype. This in turn allows designers the creative room to explore before committing to a final version.

Fashion Design Software: What Features to Look For
Good programs have certain key features that may help streamline the design process and even boost creativity. It's possible to create a clothing design virtually that, due to time constraints or the expense involved, you might not be able to create in reality - especially when first starting out.

Here are some features to look for:

  • Ability to experiment with different cuts, fabrics, prints, textures, and colors
  • 2D and 3D rendering
  • Option to upload designs and share them via email
  • Tools that can replicate 3-D fabrics on screen providing realistic visual representations
  • CAD drafting system
  • Pattern making and design
  • Grading and detailing

Why You Should Know How to Use It
Most good fashion schools offer courses in fashion design software, as they should. While most designers sketch their initial clothing design ideas by hand, they often transfer them onto the computer at some point.

In addition, the US Department of Labor only predicts a 5 percent increase in employment from 2006 to 2016, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Those who are computer savvy--like those who have already taken online classes or earned an online high school diploma, will have a leg up in the job market. In fact, most jobs will be found in design firms making mass-market clothing that gets sold to department and retail chain stores. CAD software, since it saves time and money, certainly gets used in those firms.

Fashion design software, especially computer-aided design programs, has become a basic course at most fashion schools. If you haven't learned it yet - it's time.

About the Author
Laura Horwitz has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for five years in both London and the U.S.

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