Understanding industry lingo will help to establish you as a player in the world of fashion and plays an important part in your education as an emerging fashion brand. Day in and day out, you will be communicating with industry experts –from consultants, to technical designers, to sample makers, to fabric mills and factories – all of whom have spent a considerable amount of time in the field, and will likely use this terminology as their second language. So don’t get caught feeling left behind: go ahead and read through our list of need-to-know fashion industry lingo.
Please note: Some of the words and phrases you see here may already be familiar to you. If so, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your fashion terms. You may, however, come across some unfamiliar terms, learn something new and expand your credentials.
Alta moda: Italian couture
Atelier: French word used to describe a fashion designer’s studio or workshop
Automatic replenishment: Also known as a continuous open-to-buy, a store that allows a brand/designer to restock basic or staple products without a purchase order
Brick and mortar: The term for the physical location of a store
Brick and click: Retailers that integrate their brick and mortar store with their e-commerce site. This allows retailers to offer special perks and seamless web-to-store services, such as in-store pick ups and returns.
Buying Plan: A general description of the types and quantities of merchandise that a buyer expects to purchase for delivery within a specific timeframe or period.
CAD: Abbreviation for Computer Aided Design; it is an integrated computer system that aids in designing and pattern making
Colorway: industry term used to describe the color of a garment because saying the word ‘color’ is just too boring and overused (you weren’t expecting that definition now, were you?)
Cut and sew: process that combines different garment pieces where we cut the knit fabrics based on required pattern and sew them together to form a complete garment.
Diffusion line: modestly priced line of merchandise created by a high-end designer (i.e. the former Marc by Marc Jacobs line, D&G by Dolce and Gabanna)
Doors: number of retail stores where a fashion designer’s collection is carried and sold.
Dropshipping: arrangement between retailer and brand, in which the retailer accepts orders that are shipped by the brand directly to the consumer enabling the retailer to never carry that brand’s inventory
E-tailer: a retailer who sells products via electronic transactions on the Internet
Fashion cycle: refers to the introduction, acceptance, and decline of a fashion or style
Fashion forecast: prediction of fashion trends
Fast fashion: describes a retail model of distributing fashion design trends both quickly and cheaply to a mass audience.
First pattern: trial pattern made in the design department for sample approval
Flagship: largest and most well stocked store for an apparel manufacturer
Flats: abbreviated term for flat sketches which are black and white technical drawings that show a garment as if it were laid “flat” to display all seams, hardware, and any other design details, typically done in a software program like Adobe Illustrator
Furnishings: term specifically used to refer to mens accessories, such as socks and underwear
Grading: process of making a sample size pattern smaller or larger in order to create a complete size range for the garment
Greige goods: unbleached, unfinished fabrics
Gross margin: difference in dollars between the net sales and net cost of merchandise
LBD: abbreviation for “Little Black Dress,” coined by Coco Chanel; it describes an evening or cocktail dress intended to be long-lasting, versatile, and of course, black
Mixed-use shopping center: shopping center that not only has retail stores, but also includes restaurants, residential units, and even movie theaters and offices
Mode or Moda: synonym for fashion that is primarily used throughout Europe
Mood board: presentation board that contains images, fabric swatches, trims, and other findings, which express the mood, inspiration and color story for a particular collection of apparel concepts and designs
Open-to-buy: amount of money a buyer can spend on merchandise to be delivered within a given period, minus the amount allocated to merchandise on order
PDM: abbreviation for ‘Product Date Management Systems;’ it is a computer software system used to organize and edit a line
Pop-up store: a temporary shop that is set up for a definitive period of time, oftentimes in an a-typical selling space, such as an empty retail shop, mall kiosk, or art museum
Production pattern: final pattern made to company size standards
Repeat: the point at which the same pattern duplicates itself or repeats on a fabric
Psychographics: use of psychological, sociological, and anthropological factors to analyze market segments (i.e. customer behavior)
Sell-through: ability of a product to sell regularly at full price; it is often calculated as a percentage
SKU: used in inventory management, it is an abbreviation for Stock Keeping Unit and is a distinct item for sale that represents the attributes of a product, including the size, style, color, etc.; it can also refer to a unique identifier or code for a unit or style
Spec: sample specification or a “spec” is a garment measurement, as well as the details that are included in tech packs or technical packages. Many apparel specs are shown alongside flat sketches, and are the most important step in creating a sample.
Stock turnover: number of times merchandise is sold and replaced in a given period
Strike-off: test sample of fabric made to show and verify color and pattern before entering into production with larger quantities
Tech pack: also known as technical packages, ‘tech packs’ are vital to both the sample and garment production process. They contain fully detailed fashion flats and specs, topstitching and hardware details, any necessary artwork layouts, fabric and trim info, and all other necessary information required to produce a sample garment, and eventually bulk production.
Tribetailing: retail practice of tailoring your operations, from store design and advertising campaigns, to product assortment, for a specific customer base or market niche.
Unified brand experience: retail concept that establishes a consistent brand identity throughout multiple selling platforms, such as brick-and-mortar, e-commerce and mobile
WWD: abbreviation for Women’s Wear Daily; the definitive source of fashion industry and retail news, in both online daily newspaper formats. It is considered the ‘fashion bible’ of the fashion industry.
Yoke: neckline on both the front and back of a garment
Is there a fashion industry term whose meaning you would like to know that is not represented? Let us know in the comment section below and we’ll reply back to you with an answer!
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