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  • Writer's pictureMikelle Drew

Why Designers Use Illustrator for Fashion Design

Updated: May 20, 2023

4 reasons designers use Illustrator for Fashion Design
Why designers use Illustrator for Fashion Design

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I’m sure you’ve heard others talk about using Adobe Illustrator for fashion design. And it might seem weird if you’ve never seen anyone actually do it. I mean, why THAT program?

It seems very counterintuitive to what a fashion designer would do, especially if you’re someone who really likes drawing by hand or the very traditional artistic and tactile parts of design.

You’re not alone in wondering about this, but there’s definitely good reason to use it. And given the speed of business today, there’s no way a designer could keep up doing everything by hand.

So Illustrator is a great tool for a fashion designer to complete his or her day-to-day design tasks.

Here’s 5 reasons why fashion designers use Illustrator for fashion design:

1. Better Communication

As a designer, our method of communication, our language is fashion design sketching. Illustrator is the fashion industry standard software for creating flat sketches, the sketch a designer draws to communicate the details of a design once they’re ready to produce a garment.

A hand sketch is great, but Illustrator can ensure that your fashion designer sketch is very detailed, proportional, and easily understood by a manufacturer, particularly when you’re working with a manufacturer whose first language isn’t the same as yours.

2. Versatility

Illustrator and Adobe’s whole suite of tools can be used by multiple types of designers. If you’re a small brand, you can do big business with a few Adobe licenses. And you have options for how to work.

Both Illustrator AND Photoshop will work on a laptop AND an iPad as well as several of Adobe’s other apps that you or other team members can use. Not many companies service a business’ creative teams quite like adobe.

3. Affordability

You can “rent” Illustrator on a monthly basis for less than $21 a month and if you know you’ll need Photoshop or any of the many other Adobe apps, less than $53/mo will get you access to over 20 applications that allow you to draw, create UI/UX interfaces, create social media posts, edit photos or audio or edit video, design AR or VR experiences and more. It’s a deal that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

4. Accessibility

Illustrator only needs 2G of RAM to run on a computer. Most computers come standard with 4G of RAM, and having taught Illustrator and Photoshop remotely for several semesters, I can honestly say that you can make that work.

In addition, since you can now use Illustrator on your iPad, it opens up the possibility to design wherever you are which is also a perk and a trend for the future of fashion design.

There are other technologies emerging, and they ARE relevant, but even as you begin to learn that newer software, keep Illustrator in your back pocket. You’ll still need it, and even when you run into temporary issues using that newer software (compatibility issues, learning curve, too little RAM, etc.) know that Illustrator will still allow you to get the job done.

5. Ease of Use

The learning curve for Illustrator is a lot lower than you might think especially since it’s not a fashion specific program. So even if you can’t find the time for fashion design sketching every day, there are other reasons you can use the program so you can at least continue to practice and use it.

There’s also lots of general resources (like my YouTube channel, and Google) that can help you if you get stuck, and if want an online fashion design course that will show you exactly which tools and what functions you should be using in Illustrator for Fashion Design and to create fashion designer sketches, you can sign up for my course Illustrator for Fashion Sketching and get lifetime access to the program and a community of designers who are passionate about using Illustrator for fashion design.

So if you’re not using Illustrator yet, do yourself a favor and start ASAP. Think of it as another tool in your design toolbox like your markers, sharpies, pens or colored pencils that’ll make your design work easier, more efficient, more relevant, and more creative.

GIG of an Mikelle Drew-Pellum talking with text appearing around her head.
Think of Illustrator as another tool in your design toolbox.


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