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  • Writer's pictureVyy Bui


What is fashion design to you? It could be a limitless source of creativity, an impressive challenge but it can also be an abstract goal if you don’t know where to start. If you care about the steps to building a fashion collection then this is the article for you!

This article will be based on my personal experience and from other fashion design students that I personally know. If you have any other ideas or opinions, don’t hesitate to share with me!



The first thing you need to do before coming up with a general collection idea is to research and determine the concept you’re heading towards. Then really, what is a fashion concept? It is a topic that covers your fashion collection and contains all details on form, color, material that stems from the overarching concept.

Here’s an example. If your concept is Old Architecture, your design will be developed based on the shapes of the rigid, masculine or flexible, feminine style of your choosing. If your concept is on Vietnamese culture, then you will likely be inspired by such concepts such as terraced fields, rice grains, bibs, uniforms…


Fashion can be inspired by almost anything, but you also need to learn the distinction between theme/concept and inspiration. These two concepts are often confused and interchangeable, but there is actually a crucial difference. Inspiration is inspiration, but concept or theme is inspiration with a clear narrative. When communicating, we often use these interchangeably and that is generally acceptable, as long as we still understand the distinction.

My professor did not let his students use flora and fauna as collection concepts because they aren’t really concepts. They are still objects, inspiration taken from life. Or topics such as pressure or states of sadness are not really concepts because they are emotional phenomena, psychological states.

It depends on the opinions of each person, but I advise you all to build your ideas on topics with social depth and meaning just like the emotions you would use to drive a collection. If you choose popular, megatrend topics such as the digital world, sustainability, gender equality, generational differences…. There will be many inspirations to choose from. You should also look at well-known designers and gain inspiration from them as well!



After determining your concept, the next thing you should do in this lengthy research process is find specific images of inspiration. Choose keywords to convey your topic in clarity and start your search in pictorial websites such as instagram, pinterest, vogue runway, trend sense, trend watching… Be thorough with your search across many apps and websites. Those images need to truly have an emotional impact and they need to stand out on their own and also with unique and unconventional layouts. This is one of the first bases on which you can develop your form and color scheme for your collection. Because of this, if your images are not carefully selected and sorted out, your collection won't be up to your expectations.

The process of sorting your images will be a huge determining factor in the visuals of your collection in the long run. Do imagine that if the base (visuals) of a construction project (the collection) is firm, then that project will last without decay. Fashion design is just like that, you have to be meticulous from the beginning stages. It will also help with your personal growth. You don’t know what you might find when you dig a little deeper in your image research, and find new corners and angles in your collection that no one has ever done before.


Maybe everyone knows that each collection has their very own specific and niche color scheme. They are the colors/materials that have been carefully curated from the inspirational images that you’ve found in the previous step. To lay down the color scheme and material list for your collection, we need to use our ocular senses for those images. At first glance, what colors stand out to you? Or, what tone/material will represent the overarching concept? Ask yourself what nuances make the concept unique?


If your concept is based on war, you will probably base your color scheme on the camouflage green and brown of the military uniform, with variations of gray and materials like khaki, raw materials, wind fabric with dark muted colors… Or concepts on ethnic minorities, you will need to choose bright, vibrant colors such as red, pink, blue on brocade fabric. The most important thing is still to grasp your concept and select from ready materials. Sometimes, the colors/materials in your collection do not necessarily have to be available from the beginning. You can experiment, mix colors and combine outstanding colors/materials from your concept and see what results they bring! Be free in your self-exploration and don’t restrict yourself to a certain frame of work.

Otherwise, there is one thing worth noting about color schemes in a collection and that is quantity. To maintain a balanced and harmonious visual aspect in your collection, I’d advise you in keeping it to 10-12 specific colors. If its a collection that does not have more than 10 individual designs, then you should have a maximum of 5 colors, but 3-4 is the golden range. This has been proven based on fashion design research. Except for collections where the emphasis is on color variety and diversity, then they can use a lot more than these ranges. The same goes for materials: too many will make the collection messy and overcomplicated.



After finishing preparing your images, colors and understanding the concept’s mood, let’s not hesitate to get in and design! This is the main laborious step and also the most emotionally riveting aspect of the collection process for those who are passionate about fashion design. There will be those excited at the mere thought, but also those who will shiver and fidget from nervousness. I have gone through all of these emotions and I think that before putting pen to paper (or mouse to screen), don’t fall into a pit of overthinking or perfectionism from the beginning. The process of designing is research in itself; it is an opportunity for you to understand yourself and see where changes should be made.

When drawing, you can use tracing paper to design. Place your inspo images that you want to apply on your design on the paper, then sketch the main features and focus on the structure of your subject. Next, put another piece of tracing paper on it and develop the form of the clothing based on those lines. This is one of the many ways that will assist you in developing your designs.


Observe with utmost attentiveness the details of the images and point out interesting aspects of your researched concept. Pick out the most “expensive” things to put on your outfit. If it doesn’t work out after the first or second try, don’t feel discouraged yet. Even the most respected of designers will construct and reconstruct their collection many times just to have their final conclusion. The more you make changes to your collection, the larger your opportunities to refine it into something more unique. That is the true design process. You can draw 10 different sketches and continue to develop from only your favorite details of those 10 sketches and change the details that you’re not satisfied with.

Parallel to your design process, do continue to research and find more defining images related to your concept, as you need not be restricted to your first set of images!


This step should align side by side with your design process, or you can freely create and then gradually refine step by step. This is all dependent on every individual's workflow. But why do we need to analyze and refine? Even if you sketched again and again, even if you have done your collection’s line-up, one last look at the overall product won’t hurt.


We need to analyze if the collection can be done in reality. How will we apply it on the sewing machine or how will we verbally explain it to the person who does it for us. Not to mention what form will suit which materials. Or if it fits your initial direction. Besides that, when put side by side, the designs need to add up to a coherent collection with a consistent theme. If the forms do not share enough traits, the colors don’t feel balanced and there’s no common link, then you should probably make changes accordingly. Or perhaps in the design process, should you accidentally go overboard with a detail and find it difficult to produce then you should consider downplaying the design to your current strengths. Use a journal to write down things to improve about your collection and try your best to find a solution!

In the next part of this topic, I will go in even further detail on the steps of making a fashion collection. Please be patient and I hope this information will prove helpful to you!

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