In Blog, Creative, Design, Education

How to design for clothing: tips & tricks

The designs are a very important part of your clothing line and are decisive for your sales. But designing for clothing is a completely different skill compared to general graphic design or web design. I’m Nils, lead designer of Merchandise Essentials and I specialize in designing clothing. I wrote this blog post to give you a few practical tips & tricks about graphic design. My mission? Making sure your clothing will be worn.

#1 Design isn’t a cost, it’s an investment

As people have to pay for a design, they often see it as a cost. But actually, it’s an investment for their company/brand. Okay, you can save some money by knocking something together yourself, using some software that isn’t made to create professional looking designs. But that won’t bring you the desired result.

You have to look at graphic design as it’s the packaging of your company. What do you want to be? That product that nobody notices? Or the brand that everybody recognizes at a glance and that’s sold out in no time?

#2 Follow trends, don’t copy them

In every company you have to take into account the trends, whether it concerns products, marketing, food, clothes, designs… You can’t stay behind. You either have to set trends or react rapidly. But, don’t be the guy or girl who copies trends indiscriminately. That happens way too much to brands like Supreme, Nike, The North Face… Spot trends and do your own thing with it.

#3 Dare to be different

Nobody became big in his/her profession by playing safe. Dare to take risks, dare to stand out, dare to shock. When everyone says no, say yes. That’s the person everyone is going to remember. Here are some examples:

#4 Creativity doesn’t equal a diploma

Creativity is something you can’t learn anywhere. At school they teach you how to think creatively. But if you can’t think out of the box, don’t learn from your life experience and what you experience in your daily life, you will not produce a lot of innovating and creative things. Creativity is in you and you have to find a way to express it. If you don’t feel that urge, you better not start with graphic design.

I’m a real life example. When I was 15 years old, I downloaded Photoshop and started trying out features, purely out of my own interest. One year later, I started doing paid jobs designing merchandise for bands. By the time I was 18, I made designs for bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica and Rage Against The Machine and I launched two clothing brands. After that I followed a course to expand my knowledge about various graphic programs. And now I have found my dream job and I still work as an independent graphic designer too.

#5 Promise what you can deliver & over-deliver

Never promise something you can’t realize! As a designer, I think it’s important to deliver more than the expected. Surprise your customers by doing more or better.

One day, my colleague Sarah came to me asking if I could adjust a design for one of our customers. When I saw the design, I didn’t feel good about it, I knew people wouldn’t love to wear that. At Merchandise Essentials, it’s our goal to create clothing that people really want to wear. That’s why I decided to make a completely new design, even though the customer didn’t ask for me to do that. When he saw the result, he was pleasantly surprised and his T-shirts were sold out in no time!

Side note: people always say ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ but under-promising is boring! We love to challenge ourselves and promise an amazing result (and go beyond!).

#6 Be passionate about designing apparel

Love what you do! That’s important to keep going for it and blow every customer’s mind with the most awesome designs. For me, it really is a passion. I love to let my creativity run wild, unleash my ideas and convert them into nice designs. It’s my goal to surprise my customers and my colleagues with my designs, every day again. That way I want to keep both my colleagues and myself 100% motivated.

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