‹ Back to Posts

Through the Lens of UX:
Fashion Design and the Development Process

Part 1

As a designer with a background in fashion and education in UX, I started to contemplate the UX process as it relates to fashion design. I wanted to explore how my experience as a fashion designer intersected with UX design. The question then became how does the UX process apply to the development of clothing?

As I drew the parallels between the two processes, I realized the “double diamond” method is inherent in the fashion design process. This infographic breaks down the process for developing a dress (in-house) and a digital product side-by-side.

There is a diverging and converging of ideas as well as cycles of iteration, especially during the Development and Delivery phase, to arrive at the final product. During Discovery, it’s crucial to know and understand your end-user by using various methods of research to develop a desirable product. It should also be noted that successfully bringing a product to market means communicating and collaborating with cross-functional teams and aligning with stakeholders throughout the process.  

So, whether a digital service or a dress is being developed, the processes are comparable as you move through 4 phases: Discovery, Define, Development, and Delivery.

DISCOVERY: An objective is defined and assumptions are identified as various methods of research are used to learn more about user needs, market trends, and stakeholder desires.   

DEFINE: Research is synthesized to draw insights and validate (or invalidate) assumptions to better understand user needs. After the analysis of data, prioritization of ideas, features, or solutions is needed to proceed in a pointed direction. 

DEVELOPMENT: With a clear expectation of user needs, proposed ideas, features, or solutions are designed and iterated based on insights and feedback.

DELIVERY: Finally, the product is refined, finalized, and documented for implementation.

Even though designing a dress and designing a digital product are completely different on the surface, the thought process and steps it takes to go from concept to creation are quite similar.

Sure, on one hand, you might be adding a button by “drawing” a rectangle in Figma. On the other, you’re sewing a button onto a front panel of a jacket. To understand “the why” of adding that button in the first place is what is important. Everything from purpose, placement, color, and size should be an intentional design decision to maximize the experience for the end-user. 

It’s clear that the UX process is naturally ingrained in other creative processes. It is important to remember that UX design is not just an industry or a field but rather a framework on how to solve a problem by developing something meaningful for the end-user. Of course, these days, it most often applied when creating an app or a website, but it could be (and should be) used to design literally anything. 

Breaking down the fashion design process in this way revealed interesting areas of opportunity in which the approach to designing clothes could be improved to better serve the end-user. To uncover those revelations, let’s dive into Part 2.