21 Fashion Creativity Hacks That Boost Your Imagination

by Apr 20, 2018

Do you remember that tragicomic scene from Adaptation?

Nicolas Cage is staring at his writing machine and a blank page. Feeling no inspiration at all, he starts mumbling: coffee, muffin, even better… a banana nut muffin.

Writing a new novel after the smashing success of the previous one is hard.

The same happens to fashion designers. For every collection, and at least twice a year, worries keep coming and building a creeping barrier between you and your creativity:

“Hasn’t everything been created in fashion already? How can I gain success? And then, how can I regenerate that success? How to start fresh and new over and over again? How to keep my creative spirit at the highest level?”

Bam! Here are 21 hacks you can master today to feel effortless and endless fashion creativity.

Shall we start?

1. You best friend is…

A pen.

Don’t overestimate your memory. It’s much easier to have a pen handy and a mini notebook, like the Moleskine Pocket. Catch your ideas as they come up, even when waking up at night.

Paper and pen are also the quickest way to draw simple sketches. No software to launch, no learning curve to master. Karl Lagerfeld sees himself as “a sketching artist because I like to sketch. But my fashion sketches are easy to read.”

A pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.”

Joyce Meyer


21 Fashion Creativity Hacks that Boost Your Imagination

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2. One-stop shop

Wouldn’t it be mind-boggling to have all your ideas, of any kind and format, old and new, at the same place? Not only on your computer but on your mobile too, accessible anywhere, at any moment?

Evernote is a free tool to mix and match your own ideas with all the other ones you find in people’s content. When you lack inspiration, dive into your archives and refresh your mind.

3. Inspiration on tap

A drawing app is a playful and useful alternative to a paper notebook. With Paper 53 on your iPad or tablet, you can scribble, doodle, draw, sketch, paint, picture, outline, make a collage…

Keep all your sketches in different digital notebooks. Go back to them anytime, anywhere, to grab an idea or to transform it.

4. A 10-minute habit

Have a book in progress and read it at least 10 minutes a day. Why not at lunch break or in public transportation? You can find 10 minutes every day, right?

Any book can fuel your inspiration, but the topics outside fashion are even better. How come? Because creativity is not linear. Ideas cross-pollinate. Sometimes the most unexpected associations bring the stickiest ideas. Sonia Rykiel, the queen of knitwear, wrote a few erotic novels. In 1993, she explained to WWD that she imagined sweaters like characters of her books.

Cool, eh?

5. Steal like an artist

Aka copy.

“Art is theft.” Picasso’s famous quote reminds us that nothing is original. Artists, designers, writers copy other artists, designers, writers to find their own style. What’s important is not where you take ideas from, but where you take them to. Yves Saint Laurent turned typical masculine clothes into the most seductive feminine wardrobe. And one of his iconic dresses is a sheer copy of Mondrian’s paintings.

Start copying what you love. Copy. Copy, copy, copy. At the end of the copy, you will find yourself.”

Yohji Yamamoto

Japanese Fashion Designer

6. No need for luck

But work.

Successful fashion designers might feel lucky to have their positions, but luck wasn’t the primary factor that got them there. Luck ignores the hours of trial and errors or the studio full of fabric pieces in the garbage bin. No overnight success exists.

Being a fashion designer is not a label. It’s an identity that forms from doing the work. All jobs need practice, and creative jobs are no exception. So, forget about luck and focus on your work.

Buckle up, and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it.”

Tory Burch

American Fashion Designer

7. Your entourage at heart

Who influences or ignites your creativity?

You may think of famous fashion designers, but the people around you are more important. Toxic people neutralize your ideas and your creative spirit. If you select your inner circle carefully, magic will happen.

Your close entourage fosters your creativity. Constructive feedback, encouragement, and support lift you up.

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé had a long and successful fashion partnership. But there are many other examples, present, and past.

8. Less is more

If you had all the time and money in the world, would you create the business of your dreams?

It’s a common misconception. Nothing is more paralyzing than having limitless possibilities. Restrictions and constraints force you to find fresh solutions. In contrast, having less of everything gives you the opportunity to get more of anything.

There are countless proven examples. Laura Ashley was a secretary. Marc Jacobs was a stock boy for a clothing store. Coco Chanel was a clerk in a hosiery shop. Salvatore Ferragamo was a factory worker. No money for them meant many more ideas.

9. Sharing is building

Show, don’t hide!

Social media is the place to mingle for eye-popping creativity benefits. An audience motivates you to come up with imaginative ideas on a daily basis.

Even better? Your fans feel excited to interact with you. They not only respond to your ideas but also build on them.

So, embrace the inventiveness of others. Let them help you come up with jaw-dropping fashion products. Your followers become your faithful supporters. That is exactly what happened to Mansur Gavriel on Instagram.

10. Go against the grain

Should you follow fashion trends?

A long time ago, Gianni Versace was already alerting everyone not to follow trends. Why? Trends are the enemies of fashion creativity, killing the fun for you and fashion customers.

Design the fashions you like to see on others or the ones you would love to wear yourself. Develop your personal style. Distinguish yourself from all the other “me too” providers. You will adore it, and your customers as well.

Creativity is experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking the rules, making mistakes and having fun.”

Mary Lou Cook

American actress, singer and dancer

11. The drawback of experience

Could experience prevent you to try new paths?

A clean slate might invite you to be more adventurous, to ask yourself the right questions.

The best ideas come from a clean slate. When you are already an experienced fashion expert, it takes some effort to start from scratch. When you are an aspiring fashion designer with no experience, your slate is already clean. Take advantage of it!

Imagination is everything. It’s the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Albert Einstein

German physicist

12. 360-degree creative

A common mistake in fashion? Reducing creativity to “design.” Open your mind to all the dimensions of a fashion business. The design is only one of them. Creativity is everywhere if it’s relevant to your fashion business and your customers.

Work on new ideas in production, pricing, marketing, shipping… Go beyond your customers’ expectations with the same fashion product. For instance, Asket uses “radical” pricing (transparency). They give an insider’s view of their products to customers.

13. One-Of-A-Kind fashion creativity

Some fashion designers seem to oppose “creative” and “wearable.” Yet, the most successful ones have deciphered that “wearable” is the creative grail. When many people wear your designs, you have reached the purpose of fashion design and creativity.

Did you know that Yves Saint Laurent regretted not to have invented jeans? Fashion products are not for museums and exhibitions. They exist to make people feel good and look good wearing them.

14. Baby steps win the race

Designing a full line of fashion clothes can be stressful, and even overwhelming. When your project is oversized, your creativity is paralyzed, like yourself. Making progress step by step is the way to win the fashion race. Let others consume their energy too fast and give up before the finish line. The fashion business is about endurance.

So, start to market one product. Ralph Lauren designed only ties at the beginning. One product first, then the second, etc. In the end, you may have a full line of all successful products and no burnout.

15. Season is over

Once upon a time, there was the fashion calendar. The world has changed enormously since then. And a fashion calendar doesn’t make sense anymore. Fashion customers are shopping 24/7 in the northern and the southern hemisphere. Don’t limit your creativity to seasons! It’s irrelevant today.

Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger were the first to switch to fashion immediacy in 2016. They applied to luxury goods what fast fashion giants like Zara and H&M had been doing for decades.

16. A little-known booster

Need a little help with creativity today?

Why not give yourself an idea challenge? It’s a fun and easy jumpstart. Challenge yourself to draw or write 10 ideas before the end of the day. Give yourself permission to include stupid or ugly ones.

First, you will feel proud of yourself to have found 10 ideas. At the end of the week, you will have a bunch of okay ideas, a few foolish ones and a couple of gems. At the end of the month, you will feel a shift in your creativity. Your brain will make more and more ideas come your way, easier and quicker too.

17. Back to the basics

When you are stuck, going back to the first principles will make you move forward later. This is how Elon Musk became successful with Tesla.

How does it work for fashion creativity?

Simplify every problem as much as you can to find the solution you couldn’t see before. Abandon the form that sets boundaries around your creativity. Think about the function only. If Henry Ford had focused on creating faster horses, he would have never designed cars.

18. Better off in or out?

Original ideas come along with learning new things, too.

When you move out of your area of comfort, you open yourself to knowledge and awareness. Inside your comfort zone, there is no challenge to learn anything new. The edge of your comfort zone is where you are most open to learning and creating.

Too far away from comfort zone is a danger zone. You start resisting and shutting down your brain. Plunge into anything new to take off, but don’t go too far out or you’ll get lost!

19. Your worst enemy is…

You know perfection doesn’t exist, don’t you?

Over and over again, that is still a trap many fashion designers fall into like the rabbit hole. They set themselves up for failure. As we all know, perfection doesn’t exist. It’s a general concept with as many definitions as the number of human beings on earth.

Put your perfectionistic mindset to sleep, and look for quality and value. This is what fashion customers want. How to do that? Action. When you make things, your inner voices about perfection shut up, and your brain is in a creative mode. The more you do, the more creative you are.

Many fashion designers work successfully and simultaneously for different brands. Karl Lagerfeld has been working for Fendi since 1965 and joined Chanel in 1982. On top of these two prestigious design jobs, he helms his own label and is also a talented photographer.

20. Small is the new big

Dream big but start small. Don’t try to find that “extraordinary” fashion idea that will make you rich and famous. This is only a way to make your creative mind struggle and get stuck.

A kick-ass creativity tactic? Think about little details to improve something existing. For instance, size charts are crucial when you buy fashion products online. For over a century we had the same sizes from XS to XL. Are 5 sizes enough for the billions of different body shapes on earth? Probably not. Asket invented a new sizing system to get closer to customer’s needs.

A small detail can make a big difference.

21. Today is your best day

There is no better moment than today to be creative. Don’t wait to know who you are and what to do to get started. You will find out in the way of doing.

Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

George Bernard Shaw

Irish playwright, critic, polemicist, and political activist

Creativity is something you already carry in you. Work it. Play it. And it will never disappoint you!

Which is the first fashion creativity hack you feel inspired to start today?

Would you like to add any other one to that list? Please share it in the comments!

(Photos from Unsplash: Olloweb Solutions, Tim Wright, Simson Petrol, Lacie Slezak, Jordan Whitfield, Jackson Frost, My Life Through A Lens, Isaiah Rustad, Rawpixel, Dustin Giallanza, Billy Lee, Jeff Sheldon, Igor Ovsyannykov, Alexandre Chambon, Doodoosonic, Patrick Tomasso, Nikhil Mitra. Illustration: Renáta Bajkó).

P.S. Fashion Talents is an open marketplace where you create your fashion eBusiness in minutes.

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21 Fashion Creativity Hacks that Boost Your Imagination

Cool Bonus: Free Cheat Sheet to Download

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