How to Translate Inspiration Into Designs

Inspiration - the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

As creative people we are constantly stimulated by various (and sometimes random) things around us: visuals, sounds, text, smells, memories, feelings etc. Translating all of that into unique and wearable designs is where the magic/creative part happens!

When beginning to design a collection it’s natural to start fantasizing about your favorite designs, spilling sketch after sketch over each page. But good design is not born in a vacuum. The key to creating a memorable collection is to build a story from which you can then draw inspiration from to enhance your designs.

Simply picking and choosing elements that you like will leave the customer confused and will not help them to identify your brand from the next. One of the best first steps to begin is by creating an inspiration board also called a mood board. 

A mood board can be a mix of images and items that you have tied together or even as simple as a single image. Pinterest is an easy tool to use and it allows you to pull images together and organize your ideas into a cohesive folder.

TIP: Try thinking of a few descriptor words to help start your image search that you want your collection to evoke (i.e. Rustic, warm, comfortable or Sleek, pastel, Futuristic)

A Pinterest Inspiration Board - Lowfi

A Pinterest Inspiration Board - Lowfi

Once you’ve created this mood board begin to think about the elements of art (color, texture, shape, form, and line) and how you can apply these to your designs. Here are 4 ways to go about it: 

1. Pinpoint a color palette: Photoshop will allow you to eye drop colors directly from inspiration photos or you can visually draw hues from an image. Tearing swatches from magazines or using pantone colors to mix and match is helpful to see how all the colors work together. Or, if you have access to a trend forecasting source you can choose from their premade palettes reflecting seasonal trends.

 
 

2. Adapt texture to fabric: Images of ocean waves can translate to sand washed silk; a brick wall becomes a textured herringbone; a field of wildflowers elicits lightweight cotton gauze. There’s no wrong answer, so just get creative!

3. Shapes and form as silhouette: For this stage you can either pull images of garments that already exist (whether they are current, retro, or historical) or images that evoke a certain look that you want to design for.

Dandy look as inspiration for Altuzarra  Fall 2015

Dandy look as inspiration for Altuzarra  Fall 2015

Dandy inspired look and silhouettes  - Altuzarra Fall 2015

Dandy inspired look and silhouettes  - Altuzarra Fall 2015

4. Line: If prints are an important part of your collection consider looking for images of art and architecture that have the same hand or geometric lines you can trace if you are creating your prints from scratch. 

Italian Renaissance as inspiration for Alberta Ferretti Fall 2015

Italian Renaissance as inspiration for Alberta Ferretti Fall 2015

Italian Renaissance inspired fabrics and prints - Alberta Ferretti Fall 2015

Italian Renaissance inspired fabrics and prints - Alberta Ferretti Fall 2015

Tip: While creating this board or host of images,  avoid choosing too many items and especially ones with no relation to your story. It’s okay to have contrast and mesh ideas but keep these focused. Florals, rhinestones, stripes, hourglass silhouettes, menswear inspiration, and chunky knits, probably shouldn't all fit in the same collection. Remember, there’s always next season!

While the internet may seem like the easiest resource to grab images from, sitting in front of a computer might not be the most inspiring thing in the world so don’t be afraid to explore and dig in, take your own pictures and draw from personal items and experiences to tell your story. Once you establish a point of inspiration you can then begin to craft a collection that is guaranteed to stand apart from all the other garments because it’s your own creative process that fueled the design!