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What Can UX and Fashion Design Learn From One Another


31st January 2023

Fashion design is one of the most sought-after careers in the fashion industry. Whilst becoming a fashion designer can be extremely competitive, the demand for UX designers is growing. You may not think that there is much crossover between these disciplines, however there are actually many transferable skills and processes. 

Read on to discover some of the similarities between UX and fashion design, and find out how each area influences the other.

The Similarities Between Fashion and UX Design

Design is a process-driven venture based on solving problems. This could be a problem relating to functionality or even the perception of a brand. Despite being wildly different fields, UX and fashion design actually have many similarities in their process.

Both the UX and fashion design processes can be broken down into 4 key stages:

  • Discovery 
  • Define
  • Development
  • Delivery

The diagram below shows the kind of actions that might be taken at each stage of the design process and highlights the similarities between the two.


The ‘discovery’ stage is centred around research and exploration. Looking at the market in which you are operating helps to frame design concepts and uncover potential problems, solutions and direction for your designs.

At this stage there might be some preliminary data gathering and hypotheses formation. The ‘discovery’ stage does not involve data analysis or testing of hypotheses however; this comes a little later.


At the ‘define’ stage, the information uncovered at ‘discovery’ can be analysed and used to inform the design process. This looks at what kind of issues the end product needs to address. It may also involve the creation of initial design concepts, exploring top-level ideas that can be built upon during the ‘development’ phase.


The development stage is where initial design ideas are brought to life. From a fashion design perspective this involves the creation of garment samples. From a UX perspective this involves the creation of wireframes and demo sites. 

The key difference at this stage is that when it comes to feedback, fashion designers are likely to take on comments from a much smaller group of people, and rarely from the end user themselves. 


When the main concept has been decided and developed, the ‘delivery’ stage can commence. This involves refining final designs, looking at the finer details until the end result is perfected. The product can then be rolled out. 

From a UX perspective, this is done in a digital sphere meaning that designs can be updated and changed based on real-world data after the initial rollout. With UX there therefore may be multiple iterations of a design during this ‘delivery’ phase.

In terms of fashion design, roll out involves creating products at scale, fashion shows, the stocking of products in shops etc. The product cannot therefore just be adjusted and updated as and when required. There may still be multiple iterations of the end product, however this is more likely to come at the ‘development’ stage.

The Influence of UX on Fashion Design

Whilst we can see that the process for both UX and fashion design are similar, there are some key differences whereby each discipline could learn from one another. 

Briefly mentioned above, fashion designs are final after they have been rolled out. They cannot be altered and updated live.  Utilising principles of UX design in fashion could help to create garments that better serve the end user, which can in turn improve sales and profitability.

Fashion design teams rarely talk directly with the customer. Most customer feedback is gained via channels such as online product reviews, sales figures etc. This is a retrospective approach and can lead to a disconnect between fashion houses and customers. Fashion designers tend to work on the premise of suggesting to customers what they should like, rather than asking first.

Whilst this trickle down approach is integral to the fashion industry, there are times when a product or collection will not land due to this. This can result in reduced sales, increased returns and sustainability concerns.

Rather than talking to the customer, iterations of fashion designs are usually based on feedback from a select few people within a business. This could mean an initially flawed idea is developed. 

Fashion designers could utilise customer feedback at the product development stage of the design process taking into consideration factors such as garment lifecycle, economic impact on the price point and perceived value. This could help to reduce waste, aid sustainability and help improve the chances of the end product being well-received and profitable.

The influence of Fashion on UX Design

UX design is also heavily impacted by fashion. Most things are ruled by trends and fashion in some way; this includes the digital world.

For example, websites often go through trends and fads. Many websites used to use table-based designs however these were phased out as they don’t always make sense when read left to right or top to bottom. This design style could also be quite restrictive. 

For UX, functionality is key but often visual appeal and trends are valued over this. Form should follow function in design, starting with the end goal and working backwards. That is not to say that fashion isn’t important in the UX space.

Digital designs need to appeal to users. Fashion also influences what users want at any given moment. This therefore plays into the kind of functionality that may be required from a digital service.

An example of this is Skeuomorphic design. This refers to a field of design whereby visual queues are taken from real world objects. For example, app icons frequently used to look more like real objects, but have since developed to be more abstract and simplified. This is because when apps were new to the world, users needed more references to understand the purpose. As the digital space has developed and matured, this is no longer needed. Minimalist and surreal designs have  become more common in recent years which correlates to key trends also occurring in the fashion industry. 

All in all, it is apparent that both UX and fashion influence one another greatly but can also be utilised to complement each other.

If you’re interested in learning more about how fashion and UX design can work in tandem with one another, check out our UX/UI Design for Fashion online course.

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