Let's Talk About: Sources of Inspiration

Sources of Inspiration

For several centuries, women’s fashion has borrowed ideas from existing sources to inspire new design ideas. While some of these style influences are obvious, other examples are very subtle and may go unnoticed. Understanding where inspirations can be found, and how they affect new styles will help to create a strong designer. Inspirations provide fresh, new design ideas that may include, silhouettes, trims, textiles and other details for the design process. The most common areas where fashion designers look for ideas are:

Historical Costume: Men’s and Women’s fashion from Egypt to the 1990’s create a huge range of styles to choose from. The practice of going back in time to find fashion ideas has been occurring for centuries. One recent trend influenced by historical costume is the “Goddess” look that is inspired by Greek and Roman gowns.
Regional or Ethnic Costume and Textiles: Apparel, fabric, embroidery and trims from a country or culture can give new life to classic or popular silhouettes. Sarong wrapped skirts in fashion are inspired by the wrapped garments worn in South East Asia, India, Africa and other regions.
Men’s Wear and Military Uniforms: Suits, coats, buttons and braid from the history of men’s fashion and military uniforms provide tailored details, silhouette and textile ideas for both current women’s and men’s fashion. Military styles vary from the fitted jackets of the Victorian era to current camo looks.
Active and Team Sportswear: Apparel for activities and sports such as football, tennis, cycling, swimming and yoga can provide new looks in fashion. The Olympics can help to jump start a trend in color blocking and fitted knit garments.

Review current trends to locate examples that are derived from the styles listed above. What seems to be popular now? Find one popular inspiration and locate a image or photo of the original style that is is a good match to the current fashion trend. The original style might be found in a painting, photo, book illustration or other source. Both garments should have obvious similarities that depict how the original source inspired the current fashion.

The slide for this article is an example of “Sailor Inspiration” in fashion design during the 20th century. Try creating your own collage or digital group. Some current examples might be Scottish tartans, Silk Road Ikat fabric, English riding costume, 1920’s flapper dresses. Collages such as these are often called “inspiration boards” and are used in design rooms to show in what direction a collection is going. It helps to give the group a theme that will identify the brand or designer’s new line.

Now that we can see where fashion trends get their inspiration from, next week we’ll look at how to create original inspiration mood boards that you can use for your own designs or blog.

This original article on spotting fashion trends is part 3 of a series on fashion design that are posted weekly here at Pintucks. The contents of this article are the intellectual property of this blog. Please do not copy any content to another blog or digital media without contacting me first. I will ask that you link back to this article and give reference to this source within your feature. If you are using content for a research paper or project, please link back to this page in the traditional academic format, thank you!

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