According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 20,560 fashion designers working in the United States as of May 2022. The number has risen exponentially and this will only continue as the demand for clothes does. But how does fashion affect the job of the everyday graphic designer? Well, fashion is just as much of an art as design. Francis Bacon even said once that “Fashion is only the attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse.” Both being facets of art and reflections of society, fashion and design are linked in a number of ways and seem to become more and more visually and conceptually linked every day. The job of the graphic designer can relate to that of a fashion designer in that design can directly apply to fashion, their basics overlap, and they can and do have similar inspirations.
Design Applies to Fashion
The most obvious and direct examples of this link are the countless times that fashion designers have partnered directly with artists and graphic designers to create outfits featuring their work. One example of this that will forever live in the memory of all who love fashion or art is when contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama teamed up with Louis Vuitton in 2012 to create a fashion line incorporating her signature polka-dots. Louis Vuitton, a very well known high-end brand, has notably made a habit of featuring artists’ designs.
(Image from louisvuitton.com)
This phenomenon of designs being used in fashion has even gone past the realm of high fashion. MoMA has a whole design store where you can find all sorts of things including clothing that features designs inspired by contemporary artists. In 2020 they even collaborated with Vans to create a line of apparel, accessories and shoes that feature Vasily Kandinsky’s Orange. Another example is the iconic 2020 collaboration between Takashi Murakami and Supreme where they created a t-shirt with the purpose of raising funds for HELP USA.
(left image from galeriemagazine.com) (right image from maddoxgallery.com)
There are so many examples of these direct links. Here is a list made by Vogue: 10 contemporary artists inspiring fashion right now.
A Shared Background
From the perspective of schooling for fashion versus graphic design, many of the classes and concepts intertwine. You are to focus on the same design elements such as color, line, and typography. The same goes for principles such as composition. We have the same goal of using a medium to visually achieve something interesting and new. This all has the ultimate goal to communicate with an audience through unique means.
Finding Inspiration in Fashion as a Graphic Designer
As graphic designers, we can draw inspiration from many different things related to fashion.
Fashion and design trends often correlate similar to how a designer’s work may mirror their personal fashion. Furthermore, graphic designers and fashion designers all naturally observe visuals and find inspiration from other art or historical imagery. Sometimes as a designer it can be hard to find inspiration, so it can be useful to look at how fashion design is inspired. There is nothing wrong with using their inspiration as inspiration yourself.
Examples of this fashion design inspiration are the visual allusions to art nouveau by fashion designer Paul Poiret and Paco Rabanne’s futuristic collections inspired by visuals of the sixties.
(left image from schumacher.com) (right image from door11.com)
To see even more about how design links to fashion check out this Google Arts & Cultures post: The Love Affair Between Fashion and Art