#5: What Does Fashion Have to Do with Graphic Design?

Graphic Design and Fashion

Graphic Design and Fashion

It has always been astonishing to me how intertwined the worlds of fashion and graphic design are. As a teen and young adult I was entering the world of modeling and was very interested in advertising and fashion. In the end, I wound up being drawn to advertising design much more than I was attracted to modeling. During my first year of college I made the connection that the fashion and beauty industries are inseparable from the commercial/graphic design industry; because of trends. There are trends in every design field, and they are all guided by each other. Most of these trends make a grand appearance on the runways during “Fashion Week”. But who guides these looks and how do they become “trends” anyway?

Let me introduce you to Pantone and their color matching system (PMS). I want to help you understand how design trends can start and how they connect these industries that seem so vastly different. The Pantone Corporation provides systems for the accurate communication of color. They ensure that when you see the color “Marsala” (Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year) that if you use their color formulas, the color will be consistent no matter what material you print on or what computer you use to create your design. Every year, usually in the late fall, Pantone announces their color of the year and release a Spring Fashion Color Report . The colors chosen by Pantone will make up the color schemes that fashion designers use for their collections on the runway. In turn, the colors begin appearing in magazines articles and advertisements. Because a graphic designer must design these magazine covers, articles, and advertisements, they will naturally begin using the same color palettes in their layouts. Not only the colors, but the styles of design the graphic designer uses will often reflect the looks that were on the runway. If there were lots of florals, plaids or bold lines on clothing the models wear down the runway, it is very common to see versions of these same prints and elements carried over into the design industry.

New York Fashion Week for Spring this year was full of interesting and feminine textures, classic and simple lines and patterns, as well as bright pastel colors and soft neutrals. These are all elements that have shown themselves to be among the trends for graphic design in 2014 and some of which I believe will continue to be trends this year. One trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is flat design. This trend is seen on the runway in clothing that is very straightforward, no patterns, simple lines, flattering shapes. Femininity (soft materials and colors) in fashion design is showing itself in the watercolor and colored pencil look in graphic design. There has been a huge trend in hand-lettering and more natural or human type designs in the past couple of years. The chalkboard looks made popular by Dana Tanamachi (tanamachistudio.com) or the posters you find at Hobby Lobby in a “this is my handwriting” font by Lindsay Letters [Photo on right from lindsayletters.com] have carried over into fashion design as well. More and more, you will notice that typography lindsay-letters_the-best-part_1024x1024especially, is being meshed from the graphic design industry to the fashion design industry. Virtually any store you walk into these days has clothing with well-designed quotes, sayings, or one word statements, in perfectly chosen fonts. Fonts are designed often times, and based on a particular style of design seen on the runway. There are “fashion” fonts that are easily recognizable as such to even the non-designer eye. Valentino-Haute-Couture-Spring-2015Valentino’s Haute Couture Spring line this year actually incorporated embroidered typography [Photo on left from style.com].  When something is happening on the runway in New York, Paris, or Milan, chances are that you will see those trends bleed over in their own unique ways into graphic design as well as, floral design, interior design and other creative industries. As designers we have to be looking at these trends on the runways and be aware of the Pantone universe that affects the fashion designers as well as us as graphic designers.
It will help us to be ahead of the curve with our design ideas if we can learn how to see the looks on the runway and figure out how we can translate those into the world of graphic design.
We need to be especially aware of trends that are started with very carefully chosen colors, colors are in my opinion, quite possibly the most important element of any design in any design field. The Pantone colors are not chosen lightly. If you are aware of color use in your designs, you can succeed in building your reputation as a true professional in a very short time. I will talk about color and the importance of knowing color theory next week, I’m excited about it and I hope you are too. Design is a wonderful world, I hope you’ll join me here. Because design matters.


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