How Do Fashion Designers Come Up With Ideas: 10 Real And Best Sources of Inspiration

If you’re curious about how do fashion designers come up with ideas, this blog is for you. It covers all the various sources of inspiration that influence fashion designers to generate their ideas. So without any delay, let’s jump into the topic.

how do fashion designers come up with ideas

How Do Fashion Designers Come up with Ideas: 10 Real and Best Sources of Inspiration 

There is a difference between being a fashion designer and getting ideas as a fashion designer. Obtaining a degree involves theoretical knowledge while generating ideas and creating something is a separate matter.

What are the 10 main sources of inspiration in fashion? Here are 10 real sources that inspire fashion designers to get ideas.

#1. Art:

Whether it’s classical, modern or contemporary, art has been one of the most powerful sources of inspiration for fashion designers. It is an inspiring way to look at colors, textures, and shapes from different perspectives. For example, the works of Van Gogh can be seen in many collections with multiple interpretations.

Moreover, fashion designers also draw inspiration from paintings, sculptures, and photography. It may be a certain emotion or something that just visually looks attractive – all of it can be applied to the idea for the collection.

#2. Music:

Like other art forms, fashion designers are greatly influenced by music. This influence comes from the emotions that music evokes, which designers use to create unique pieces. The lyrics or instrumental pieces inspire the combinations of colors, textures, and patterns incorporated in the fashion design.

Furthermore, many fashion designers use music as a source of inspiration for their collections because it gives them an opportunity to express themselves and their vision. Music can help create a theme for the collection that the designer wants to bring out, making it even more special. It also connects fashion with culture in a unique way – blending both elements together to create something truly extraordinary.

Moreover, music also helps designers capture movement or energy when creating collections. Through the use of certain beats or rhythms, they can give their clothes a desired movement that is sure to attract attention.

#3. Nature:

Nature is an endless source of inspiration that many sustainable fashion brands use in their work. Taking a walk outdoors can give some ideas about textures, colors, and patterns that can be applied to the design. The beauty of nature is unique – every element has its own smell, texture, and color. It is something that designers draw on because it connects fashion with the real world outside our four walls.

Moreover, nature also helps create a different atmosphere for a collection or styling. For example, by using natural elements like stones or wood, a designer can create an eco-friendly vibe for the collection.

#4. Nostalgia:

Nostalgia is a powerful source of inspiration for fashion designers. Taking cues from the past can be an interesting way to create something truly unique. It can allow the designer to come up with innovative and new ideas while still maintaining a timeless quality. They might look back at certain decades or eras and take inspiration from the style of dress, the fabrics used at that time, or even certain trends and colors.

For example, a designer looking to create an old-style Hollywood glamour vibe might look back at the 1930s and 1940s for inspiration. They could also draw on the classic lines of the 1950s or even the vibrant colors of the 1960s. By doing this, the designer can create something that is both retro and modern – a unique combination that will appeal to all fashion lovers. And be sure to make a statement.

Moreover, nostalgia can also help evoke a sense of emotion in fashion. By referencing elements from days gone by, designers can create pieces which bring back memories for their customers or create an atmosphere of nostalgia. This connection helps form a more personal relationship with the customer and often translates into lasting loyalty.

#5. History:

History is another great source of inspiration for fashion designers. Looking into the past can help us understand what trends may have been popular at certain periods in time and how they were worn and interpreted by different cultures. This can give fashion designers a better understanding of how to incorporate historical elements into their designs.

Even historical inspiration lets the designers have a deep understanding of past incidents. For example, World War I and II greatly impacted fashion, with many designers creating pieces that addressed the current political climate. This gave rise to a new genre of fashion known as ‘military chic‘ – an aesthetic still popular today.

Moreover, by looking back through the years, designers can also gain insight into how fashion has evolved and changed over the years. This can give them a better understanding of what trends may be popular in the future and help them create truly timeless looks.

Plus, it offers the perfect opportunity for designers to create something truly unique that will stand out from all the other designs on the market today.

#6. Films and Literature:

Films and literature can also be a great source of inspiration for fashion designers. From classic films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s or The Great Gatsby to modern-day movies like The Devil Wears Prada, movies provide us with a glimpse into the world of fashion and how clothing has been used over the years to convey certain messages.

Film costumes often offer designers an opportunity to create something unique and different while still being influenced by the era of the film.

Similarly, literature also provides us with a wealth of ideas for fashion design. Reading books from past and present writers can help designers identify trends and understand how clothing has been used throughout history to express certain feelings or emotions.

Additionally, it gives designers a chance to create a look that is not only fashionable but also timeless – something which can transcend generations and remain relevant for years to come.

#7. Narratives:

Narratives can be an invaluable source of ideas for fashion designers. By drawing inspiration from stories and folktales, designers can create pieces that tell a story and evoke emotion.

The beauty of narrative-based fashion is that it allows the designer to connect with their audience on a deeper level – by telling a story through the clothing they create, they can elicit a response from their customers and create pieces that evoke feelings of nostalgia, joy or sadness.

By engaging with narratives, designers also open the door for experimentation and creativity – something which is essential in fashion design. By looking beyond the shapes and colors of clothing items, they can explore new ways to express themselves and create truly unique designs.

#8. Street Style:

Everyday street style can also be a great source of inspiration for fashion designers. By keeping an eye on the trends in everyday life, designers can gain insight into what people are wearing and how that could be used to create something new and exciting.

Street style is often seen as more casual compared to runway or high-end fashion, but it provides plenty of opportunities for experimentation. By blending different elements, designers can create something unique and unexpected – something which could be the basis of a truly memorable collection!

The street style also helps to keep things fresh and exciting as it evolves with each passing season. Keeping tabs on streetwear trends will ensure that designers are always up-to-date with what’s popular and can create collections that are sure to make a statement.

#9. Architecture:

Architecture can be a great source of inspiration for fashion designers looking to create something unique. Structures and shapes created in architecture often translate well into clothing design, providing a basis for constructing garments with interesting silhouettes and lines.

Architecture can also help designers think outside the box regarding color palettes. By studying different buildings and their color combinations, designers can gain insight into how certain colors look together and how those color combinations can be used to create something eye-catching.

In addition, looking at structures from an architectural perspective allows designers to see clothes in a different light. By examining the shapes of buildings and other structures, they can find ways to incorporate those same shapes into their designs, resulting in clothing that is both creative and visually appealing.

#10. Emotions:

Fashion designers can also draw inspiration from their own emotions and feelings. By reflecting on certain experiences or examining how they feel about certain things, designers can gain insight into the type of designs that will resonate with others.

For example, suppose a designer is experiencing strong emotions such as sadness or joy. In that case, they may be inspired to create clothing that reflects these feelings – perhaps a dress that is dark and sombre to represent sadness or one that is bright and cheerful to represent joy.

Designers can also draw from their own unique experiences when creating new designs. For instance, if they have recently visited a different country or culture, the clothing they create may be influenced by what they have seen there.

In this way, fashion designers can use their emotions and experiences to create unique and inspiring designs that resonate with others. In doing so, they can make a lasting impression on the world of fashion.

For more details how and where fashion designers get inspiration check out the below video content.

FAQs on How do Fashion Designers Come up with Ideas

What are the sources of fashion inspiration from nature?

Fashion is a creative industry that draws inspiration from various sources, and nature is one such source that has always held a special place in the art of fashion design. Designers have always been fascinated by nature, and it is not surprising that they often use it to inspire their creations. Nature is an abundant source of beautiful color palettes, textures, and forms that can easily inspire the fashion industry.

The sources of fashion inspiration from nature are many and varied. One of the most evident inspirations is the floral and botanical world. The beauty of flowers and plants, their colors, patterns, and shapes, have long served as a muse for designers. 

They have been designing intricate lace and embroidery, floral patterns, and prints that reflect the beauty of nature on the runway and in everyday wear.

The fauna of the world is another great source of inspiration for designers. The unique textures and patterns found in animal hides, feathers, and fur have inspired fashion designers to create some of the most iconic and memorable designs. From leopard prints to snakeskin and zebra stripes, animal prints have made their way into the fashion world and are a popular trend.

Nature’s water bodies, such as the ocean, are also a great source of inspiration for fashion designers. The different colors and textures of the sea, from sandy beaches to coral reefs, have inspired designers to incorporate ocean-inspired colors and shapes into their fashion designs.

Natural materials are essential components of fashion designs. Fibres such as cotton, linen, and wool are derived from nature and have been used in fashion for centuries. As eco-friendliness becomes a more significant trend in modern fashion, there is a renewed effort to use more natural materials in creating fashion designs.

How do fashion designers get inspiration from competitors?

Fashion designers, just like any other creative professionals, constantly seek inspiration from their surroundings. One of the ways they get inspiration is by observing the work of their competitors. While competition may sound like a negative aspect of the fashion industry, it encourages designers to push their boundaries and develop innovative ideas. Here are some ways fashion designers get inspiration from their competitors:

Fashion Shows/Runway:

Fashion shows are one of the primary sources of inspiration for designers. They attend various fashion shows and observe the latest trends and design aesthetics. They analyze the designs, patterns, colors, fabrics, cuts, and styles showcased by their competitors on the runway. This helps them understand what is trending in the industry and identify gaps where they can add their touch to create something unique.

Social Media:

In today’s digital age, fashion designers use social media platforms to stay updated on the latest trends and connect with their competitors. Instagram, for example, is a great source of inspiration for designers, where they can see the latest designs, street fashion, and outfits worn by celebrities. Pinterest is also a great platform to get inspired by different styles and trends and create mood boards for their designs.

Fashion Magazines:

Fashion magazines are another source of inspiration for designers. They follow the latest issues of fashion magazines and study the designs, editorials, and photographs. This gives them an idea of what is currently trending and also helps them get a glimpse of upcoming trends.

Trade Shows:

Fashion designers often attend trade shows to showcase their designs and connect with other designers in the industry. This is also an opportunity to observe other designers’ work, styles, techniques, and fabrics used.


Fashion designers often collaborate with other designers or brands to create unique designs. This is a great opportunity for them to learn from their competitors and get inspired by their work. Collaborations allow designers to incorporate a different aesthetic into their designs, diversify their approach, and create something new and exciting.


Now you know how do fashion designers get ideas. Fashion designers are constantly looking for new ways to inspire their designs. Whether it be through color, structure, or emotion, many sources of inspiration can help them create unique and eye-catching pieces. By exploring these different sources, designers can find the inspiration they need to produce innovative clothing that stands out from the rest.

Tamim Shikder
Tamim Shikder

Head of the editorial team of I have been working as a merchandiser in the apparel-sourcing industry for the last seven years. Over the years, I have gained a strong understanding of the clothing business and have developed skills in product development, quality control, pricing negotiation and customer service. I am also well versed in the latest trends of fashion and retail industry. For any clothing manufacturing needs, please email me at

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