• Mikelle Drew

What is CAD Fashion Design?

Updated: Jul 15


What is CAD Fashion Design graphic

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When my spring 2022 semester started at Jefferson University, one of the first things I asked was, “What is CAD?”


And a student could tell me what it stood for, but when I asked, “What does that really mean?”, she was brave enough to say she didn’t really know.


Thing is, I know she’s not alone. Most people have heard of the word CAD, they know they need to know it to work as a designer in fashion, but they don’t really know what “CAD” is. So, in this blog, I'm going to do a mini deep dive into what CAD for fashion design is.


CAD is an acronym for computer aided design, and, at least in the realm of fashion design, it’s kind of a catch-all term for any type of design being done with a computer.


Now, if you talk to someone in the fashion industry, CAD means different things: it could mean using Illustrator or Photoshop; it could mean using something like Nedgraphics or Euphoria; and these days, it could also mean using 3d fashion design software like Browzwear or CLO3d.


Images of Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Browzwear, Clo 3d, and Nedgraphics software.
CAD can mean using any of these types of design software.

It can also refer to the physical piece of paper or item created using these software. For instance, you might hear someone say, “Was the CAD updated?” or “We need to do the color CADs for this style or collection.”


But no matter what is being said, everyone is referring to design work (whether that’s technical, fashion, or textile design) that is being done using some type of computer software, most likely one of the ones I mentioned previously.


The other question I asked was, "Why is CAD important?" And when you think about it, computer aided design isn’t necessarily the most intuitive thing that goes hand in hand with fashion design. What most of us are taught in school or what many people gravitate towards when it comes to fashion is the very tactile parts of it: fabric draping, sewing, drawing with pencils or pens or markers. And introducing a computer takes most of that away. So how did this become such an important and integral part of fashion?


Designer's hands sketching designs using a fashion croquis.
CAD can take away some of the "tactile" things artists love about creating fashion.

Well, if you’ve seen our fashion competition show and series, you know that fashion is not just about making beautiful or cool clothes. It’s about business, and business requires you to make money.


So what does that have to do with CAD fashion design?


CAD allows you to work faster, more efficiently, more sustainably and more effectively. And being quicker, more efficient and more sustainable translates into saving time, cost and eventually saving money, which every company is always happy about.


African American woman working on denim jean fashion CADs on a computer.
CAD allows the designer to work faster, more efficiently and more sustainably.

So the software or delivery of CAD may change, but CAD in fashion design (or textile design or technical design) isn’t going anywhere. And in fact, the pandemic has just made the idea of using CAD more palatable and broadened companies’ and designers’ ideas on using CAD and incorporating it more into their design workflow.


So if you are a fashion creative or fashion designer and you really enjoy those tactile features (the draping, the pattern making by hand, the drawing) know that CAD isn’t going to make those things extinct. And if those are things you really love and enjoy doing, you should continue to do them.


But once you get into corporate or you’re looking to turn your design hobby into a business, CAD needs to be introduced into your workflow. And 383 Design Studio can help make that transition quick, informative, and fun. So if you need to improve your skills or you're not sure where to start, make sure you schedule a call with me to discuss your digital design needs and how we can help you!



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