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Fashion 101: How Do Designers Get Fabrics?

Fashion 101: How Do Designers Get Fabrics?

Fashion 101: How Do Designers Get Fabrics?
Burberry's Woven Raffia and Cotton Coat.

By Alexandra SUHNER ISENBERG

Editor-at-Large

[Vancouver], December 17, 2011 - I've been asked this question several times so I thought it was time to write a Fashion 101 about it.

First of all, designers don't go to fabric stores to get their fabrics, they buy it from manufacturers, wholesalers, or agents.

In fact, fabric is usually the first thing they will work with when designing a new collection, as fabrics are usually chosen before the collection is designed or they've even begun research.

Like fashion companies, fabric companies will create collections, but they work a season ahead of the designers (as the designers need a season to work with the fabrics to create the clothing.) I think it is interesting that fashion design is actually quite limiting, because designers can only work with fabrics that exist and are available.

Very few fashion brands actually create their own fabrics, usually this is only done by large sportswear companies that need specialist fabrics (ex. Nike.) Luxury brands will be able to request special prints, colour combinations, or dyes, but they will rarely get a fabric specifically create and woven for them. Here are the steps involved in getting the fabrics for a fashion collection.

Step 1: Look at Fabric Collections

Major fabric tradeshows usually take place around the same time as the fashion weeks (except they are showing fabrics for the following fashion week.) This means that right smack in the middle of the shows, designers are already doing research for the fabrics for their next collections! The tradeshows feature most of the large fabric suppliers, they each build a stand and designers can visit them and go through the collections, which will be large swatches of fabrics. The designers will choose the fabrics they are interested in, and make a sample order. ...read more



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