find your design inspiration

Fashion is a billion dollar business whether you’re are self-styled indie designer, interested in streetwear, or trying to make designs that are mainstream, ideas are bound to trickle down from the catwalks. Reimagining the familiar and reinventing retro fashion styles are themes we commonly see. But with every collection, the designer has put countless hours into study, introspection, and labor to come up with looks that are worthy to be showcased.

Even if you’re not into high fashion, ideas have to come from somewhere. There isn’t any shame in building upon the ideas of others because we all do it. As Meryl Streep’s character in the Devil Wears Prada stated, “OK, I see. You think this has nothing to do with you,” she says, sounding exhausted. “You go to your closet and you select that lumpy, loose sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back, but what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue. It’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean.”

She continues: “And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns, and then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent who showed cerulean military jackets, and then cerulean quickly shot up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it filtered down through department stores, and then trickled on down onto some tragic Casual Corner where you no doubt fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think you made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”


New design ideas rarely come out of thin air. There are steps that can help organize and inspire your journey when designing t-shirts or any other type of clothing line ambitions you may have.

gathering inspiration

Start out by assessing the current atmosphere in the fashion world. This is literally paying attention to what’s on point and what’s losing its luster in design trends. How fashion is expressed nowadays has been utterly impacted by the rise and use of social media and other emerging technologies. This is how the public consumes information. When designing always keep the big picture in mind including how well your collection will translate to social media and the Internet at large. This includes imaging how it will photograph.

Look at influencers for direction, what are they wearing? Can you gain any insight from styles they are favoring? People that have a lot of followers on Instagram or YouTube can be every bit as relevant as major fashion designers when it comes to dictating trends.

Consumers have become accustomed to purchasing products immediately when something catches their eye. Would you be ready for such a demand? Do you have a custom apparel printer in place that you trust to do the job right and deliver your product on time? Are they flexible enough to offer different categories of decoration like embroidery and specialty effect inks like glitter, puff, and glow-in-the-dark?

Being on trend is not the only facet of being a fashion designer, you need to be able to add an element of the unexpected and show something new to be considered a true designer.

organize ideas for designs

Understanding your target consumer is critical to providing designs that will appeal to them. Create a persona of who this individual is. To do this you need to figure out what is important to your ideal customer, what are their values, how old are they, what are their genders, and geographical location? Are they wealthy or middle class? Are they students, mothers? Most importantly, what activities, events, or functions are they involved with. Does your clothing line fit in with that lifestyle and those destinations?

You don’t have to design with just one buyer in mind. Some designs can appeal to many segments of society.

street inspiration

Great designers immerse themselves in the subject matter of their ideas. They go where their imagined persona goes; they look for striking elements in those environments and expand upon what they see to incorporate it in their designs. Take lots of pictures for reference and use these images for inspiration. Reorganize your collection for a different perspective when you get hung up. These collections can be physical or you can organize them online on mood boards. is a great resource for creating mood boards for free.

t-shirt line mood board

Designers gain inspiration from all sorts of avenues, it could be an author, a genre of music, a particular landscape or geography, even sciences like botany or entomology. Sometimes two different fields can be grafted together design wise to create a totally new concept. These are the building blocks of creativity.

Expecting thunder bolts of creativity to be going off constantly is not a realistic expectation. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and frustration by having this assumption. Much of what happens in any creative field is simply working hard and being consistent with your efforts.

Many times bursts of creative thought happen when you take yourself out of the situation and pay attention to something else. Go for a walk or watch a video, play with your pets.

When you’re ready to put your design into production, connect with us to discuss options for printing your clothing line or t-shirt brand. We’ve worked with high-end clothing lines that have high expectations for their screen printer and their retail ready product. After all, it’s what you’ve worked so hard for. Why not partner with professionals that have an equal respect for your brand’s reputation and an appreciation for your design aesthetic?

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