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The Fashion Industry's Lingo

I started working in the LA garment district while in design school. What a great experience. I learned a lot just by observing, being able to see how the design team works together is the best training an aspiring designer could have.

Design school was giving me the tools and techniques, but I really had to be immersed in it to understand the process. One of the things I remember most during my observing opportunities was the unique lingo I heard.

Later working in the film industry as a costume designer I learned their lingo too. Every industry has their own unique lingo. Unique names, abbreviations and slangs to describe meetings, key forms and such.

So, one of the first things you have to learn when starting in a new industry is their Lingo! The quicker you learn it as a newbie the easier it will be to fit in.

In the fashion house, just about every day the design team would say something that would catch my attention. In the Costume Design arena as well. I would go to the production offices and they would say “you know. its on the day of days… oookay…)

I would suggest to anyone starting out or interning in a new industry to get your hands on a list of the top lingo words and phrases, so you don’t look like me and the confused emoji guy!

My first job in the garment industry was as a sample cutter. Sample cutters are responsible for making the “markers” for a pattern which is the cutting plan and map to efficiently cut out the pattern.

I learned so much in that first job, not only in the job itself but in the observing opportunities.

I always took notes when I would hear new lingo. One I remember, was… “on Thursday we have fits” … Fits?… when the team would have fitting sessions with the fit models.

And then, hearing the comparisons to the types and levels of designer lines like Pret-a-Porter, Avant Guarde, Haute Couture, Ready to Wear and Mass.

My second job was as a gopher, as I called it, an errand runner basically. And by far one of my favorite jobs! I learned so much there. My job entailed everything from swatch shopping to taking things to the knit factory, to going to the factor offices where the money for the next collection came from.

When I wasn’t on errands, I was helping in the design offices. It was a company called Szato Art wear in the Blue Art Deco building on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. I see that building every time I am in downtown LA and it brings back great memories.

One of my favorite errands was going to the California mart to drop off important paper work to the buyers and other fashion reps. In these offices, I would hear lingo like, Specs, Tech Pack, Line Sheets, Flats and Color Cards. The fashion industry is all about money and each design and collection does not get made without these sheets of itemized information.

My third job was for a supplier of beautiful bridal fabric, oh… I loved the fabrics there. I remember hearing the designers describing fabric, they’d say “oh this one has a great hand… or the hand on this one is… or the drape is so…. Took awhile to get use to an now its in my vocabulary.

Fabric, is all you need for inspiration!

There, I also learned about the fabric types and weaving techniques, like engineered prints, placement prints, lab dyes, over dyes, yarn dyes, piece dyes. The designers would come in and ask for different types and I had to be on it! I learned about them in my classes, but it really didn’t sink in until I had to use it.

What you hear in the creative office of the designer are things like mood board, line sheets, tear sheets.

mood boards help the designer to stay in the theme of their collection. Create a story with fashion.

And, love the word used for fashion templates… Croqui’s. Don’t ever google that, you may get a lot of weird websites!

But if you google fashion templates you get a plethora of great fashion models.

So, there are just a few of the words you will hear in the fashion industry. And always keep your ears open for more! To be in the know, be sure to stay on top of the slang!

To help you be in the know... I have a free class for you! It’s a quick tutorial that goes thru the top lingo and describes them in easy terms.

And you can download the 2-page guide to follow along and keep with you for future reference.

You can find the free class here:

If you come across any new lingo words you hear frequently, let us know in the comments below!



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