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Importance of Fashion Illustration — Why You Should Sketch Your Ideas

Everything created today was once an idea. For proper execution, these ideas had to be visualized in the mind and depicted on paper for proper realization. In the fashion industry, it’s called fashion illustration. And if you’re a dressmaker, shoemaker, accessories maker, or even a graphic designer, sketching is something you do before going into the main production. Ignore the importance of fashion illustration and risk thwarting your fashion career.

A cargo pants design by Ayoni Ade

Now, picture these scenarios:

You are sitting in a salon having a nice hairdo(cut). Everyone who walks in compliments your hair even when your hairstylist isn’t done. Their words get you psyched. You can’t wait to see the finished work. And at that moment, if you wanted to confirm if the compliments weren’t lies, what would you look into? A mirror, eh?

A fashion illustration by Ayoni Ade

Another one:

You are walking past beautiful scenery. Everything about it captivates you. And as you stare at it, you get the hunch to show your friends this beautiful place you see which bears semblance to heaven. What would you use to show them?

illustration of a female outfit with face mask (front only)

Your smartphone’s camera, I bet. A satisfying shot of what arrests your attention is all you need to show others what you saw. And if you’re an artist, you may even go further to paint a lucid picture of it.

Fashion illustration and the depicted scenarios are similar. It is that mirror you look into to have a reflection of the fashion idea in your head. It is that picture on your phone or the sketch/painting on your canvass that reminds you of that beautiful scenery. 

a corset 2d sketch by ayoni_ade

Wikipedia defines it as:

“the art of communicating fashion ideas in a visual form that originates with illustration, drawing, and painting.”

Imagine how tasking it would have been if, as a fashion designer, you could only describe with word of mouth your ideas to your team members. Let’s put the stress aside. What about miscommunication of ideas? Your team members may not understand your description well and end up creating something totally different from the picture in your head. 

illustration of a an angel pregnant lady

Sometimes you may succeed at giving an accurate description but still, the fact remains that a picture speaks more than a thousand words. So, whether you’re a newbie in fashion design or a pro, illustrations are vital to the success of your career. Just as we need mirrors to see our reflections and pictures to tell a story, you need fashion illustration for better efficiency. Go ahead and sketch your ideas. You need it for the growth of your fashion business.

But why, you ask? What’s so striking about the importance of fashion illustration that you have to learn the skill even if you suck at drawing?

Well, to answer that question, let’s dive in.

5 Proven Importance of Fashion Illustration

illustration of a plus size crop top and bum shorts (front and back views)

If you don’t wanna sketch on paper with your pencil, you can opt for digital illustration with software like Adobe Illustrator, Autodesk Design Software, Wild Ginger Cameo, C-Design Fashion, etc.

You need it for the following reasons:

1. It is the First Stage of Fashion Designing

illustration of male suits (front views only)

No dress, shoe, bag, watch, or jewelry today became a real thing without the designer first putting their idea to paper.

Without fashion drawing, you can’t make anything. For one, you need to picture what it is you plan to make and compare the work in progress with the idea in your head. 

illustration photo of a dinner dress (front view only)

How will this be possible if you don’t bring out the ideas from your head and make them visible for everyone else to see? Fashion drawing is the first phase of producing any fashion item. Now tell me: Would you rather alter a finished work or make changes to a sketch? You know the answer.

2. Fashion Illustration Helps You (and Your Team) Visualize Ideas

illustration of crop top and animal print pants (side view only)

Without a sketch, it’ll be difficult for you to explain your clothing idea. Fashion illustration helps you, the designer, in previewing and visualizing your thoughts before production.

You get to see exactly how that dress in your head looks. You get to assess every part of the design and even make adjustments where due. 

illustration of a lady's purple dress with sweetheart neckline and ruffles around the hem

Fashion illustration is necessary to the success of your craft. And until you can visualize your ideas through illustration, you can’t create anything

3. It Allows You to Showcase Your Creativity

illustration of female dress (front only)

What better way to convince clients a particular design will suit their body type than to show them its sketch?  

Fashion illustration distinguishes your work from that of other designers. Since no one can see the beautiful picture in your head unless you put it into material form, sketching is one way you can get noticed as a designer. 

If you don’t know how to sketch or illustrate, work with the fashion illustrators who abound in the industry. They’ll help you create pencil or digital illustrations. And because of the importance of fashion illustration, these illustrators are well-sought after.

illustration of male native wear (front only)

Paul Ogbomo, whose works you see on this page, is a terrific fashion illustrator. To work with him so he brings out the ideas in your head for better deals with clients, visit his Instagram page.

He’ll give you great illustrations you’ll be proud to showcase.

4. It Helps in Planning and Making Decisions

illustration of a lady's jumpsuit (front and back)

Through sketching, a designer considers other crucial factors. Some of them include the type of fabric to use, the color mix, and alterations to the design if need be. 

illustration of a short dress on a lady (2 color patterns and duplicate lady. front views only)

Sketching gives you a blueprint of what the fashion product will eventually look like. It allows you to examine the contours of every design and make necessary adjustments.

5. Fashion Illustration Helps to Set New Trends

illustration of a lady's top and pants (front and back)

Since designers are free to design whatever they wish, they are the trendsetters of the industry.

Be it zebra print, snakeskin, off-shoulder, sling bags, fanny pack, etc., fashion designers play a major role in determining what’s in vogue for each fashion season. And it all begins with sketching.

four picmixed photos of an illustration by ayoni_ade

Fashion illustration helps designers to create new trends out of current trends. For example, a designer can tweak a particular sketch into different new designs thereby creating another trend. This is one way to increase sales and grow a huge clientele base as you can offer something different to customers in so many ways.

illustration of a plus sized lady dress with slit (back and front)

As a blueprint is to an architect, so is fashion illustration to a designer.  Avoid wasting fabrics or sewing efforts. Avoid losing customers and more revenue.

Take advantage of the importance of fashion illustration and sketch your creative ideas to give a tremendous boost to your fashion brand. 

All illustrations by Paul Ogbomo and Ayoni Ade.

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or creating fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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One comment

  1. Kathryn Hagen, the author of fashion illustration for designers said in her book, “designers may know they have great ideas but without a good drawing, no one else can visualize it.” Its as simple as this…illustrate and the world will see your creative ideas, otherwise, they remain only in your head.

    Paul tutored me on fashion illustration and I am proud to say he taught me well.

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