10 Resource Books for Fashion Design

From experts to amateurs, these books will help to understand fashion

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

When the inspiration’s gone, when you’re tired and wish for a helpful hand, books are the best option to unpause the lack of interest in continuing your work.

Because, as we have heard before from designers and writers, if we create/write only when we’re inspired, we will write/create very little.

So, as an uninspired creator survivor, I share with all fashion designers ten books that have most of the answers to create whatever you’re up to. And if you’re not a fashion designer but a creator, most of these books can help everyone understand fashion from the creator’s perspective.

1. Coolhunting by Marta Dominguez Rieu.

The first information given in this book is the answer to the question: Why cool matters?

It matters because Coolhunting disembogues in disciplines like evolutionary psychology, social research techniques, anthropology, sociology, and ethnography.

Coolhunting, it’s an observation method. Fashion designers are observers, and through the observation method that is learned in this book, it will be easier to know what to observe and why to pay attention to certain things.

It will be easier to know how to pursue trends with this knowledge and create a better purpose or understanding of why we choose the shapes and silhouettes.

Even though Coolhunting comes from marketing, it also brings an understanding of our behavior and agrees to the process of design where there is no proposal without a concept.

Something that cool hunting makes simpler it’s the sales. When we observe, we track behavior patterns in the people, so if I already proved that most people are leaning to buy organics, I will know what could be a good proposal for my next collection.

In this book, we can learn the background of a trend, the possibilities of a product to reach a mainstream audience, to know where the cool is and how to see it in other places. To be friendly with terms like fads, hypes, trendy, trendsetter, or retriever.

If you’re not a fashion designer, this book will end curiosity to know where trends are born and why.

2. Icons of fashion: the XX century, the Gerda Buxbaum Edition.

It’s a book where history is explained briefly, to the point, and with examples.

It’s a timeline from 1900 to 2000 showing trends and discoveries through the history of the most fabulous designers during an era.

To name a few, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jacques Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, Charles James, and of course, our most named icons, Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Lauren.

Making a pause to explain the great ’80s where an explosion of talent occurs with names like Karl Lagerfeld, Donna Karan, Gianni Versace, Issey Miyake, and others.

This book it’s a perfect expressway to know what happened and who did it.

The pictures are very well selected, making it easier to understand and retain an image with an era to help us compare one to another through those images, colors, and shapes.

3. Why Fashion Matters by Frances Corner.

It’s a compilation of 101 thoughts, explaining the multi-billion dollar that is the industry of fashion.

I put this as a resource because, at the beginning of a career, one has many doubts, so it’s easy to think fashion is non-sense like there are better things in the world to put the energy or attention to.

But this book is a reminder of what you know and why it is important to you; so much that you chose this for the rest of your life.

It’s an overview of fashion for someone who isn’t in the world of fashion and denies all kinds of negative assumptions about the industry and its legacy. It also gives updated information about the new topics of interest in the industry, like sustainability.

4. The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker.

This is sociological and historical research about women and their connection to embroidery and its relevance through the years.

From women’s slavery to how it improved domestic lives and how it maintains its importance to the current years, Rozsika Parker’s narrative will keep you alert.

As well, a revelation will surprise you on how embroidery is still relevant in our days and how we venerate it.

You’ll read a complete and intelligent story about why embroidery is still a “girl thing”.

For fashion designers, it’s a way to comprehend how we work in our workshop and why we choose embroidery as a detail to a garment.

5. Psicología del color by Eva Heller.

Sadly, this book can only be found in Spanish, but if you are bilingual, I recommend this book so much. It’s about the psychology of color, and what is one of the most significant elements for design? Color!

This book is a dictionary of color. It answers the meanings of feelings, sensations, and hidden messages that are given through color.

It also explains why that color was given its meaning, like blue and peace, green and fertility, and yellow with resistance.

It has a beautiful and smart part where feeling and impressions are shown in a combination of colors and why psychically are understood that way in our heads.

6. Figure Drawing for Fashion Design by Elisabetta Deudi.

Now we’re entering the technical part of fashion design.

Of course, a resource is about how to draw. Not only a good illustration but to know and earn a tool to express the fabric we need with the movement shown in the illustration.

Sometimes as a fashion designer, a simple sketch is everything they need because they know in their heads what color, what’s the fabric sensation, how does it move, and it needs to be like that. But if you are working with a team of people, they all must know what’s going on in your head, and a perfect way is to simply show them.

This book has elementary and intense exercises in drawing a complete body, giving it personality and details like noses, ears, eyes, eyelashes, lips, teeth, hands, feet, nails, hair, and how to draw fabrics patterns.

Take it day by day. It’s actually a lot of fun to draw only lips one day, and the next one, eyes, until it’s almost instinctive.

7. Technical Drawing for Fashion Design. Garment Source Book by Alexandra Suhner Isenberg.

Another technical book. This one is the technical book.

Believe it or not, sometimes, as a fashion designer, you forget what other garments exist outside the one garment you master. If you spend too much time designing jackets, you forget about shirts, coats, capes, etc.

I recommend this book to understand the precise construction of a garment and have better ideas of different sewing types.

The best thing about this book is that it explains how to draw specific seems, ornaments added to the garment.

As well the zippers are explained correctly, and your technical sheets will look professional and without errors. Explaining every detail needed.

8. How To Read Fashion: A crash course in styles, designers, and couture by Fiona Ffoulkes.

This book is for everyone who calls stilettos to all kinds of heels, to people who say pants to chinos and thinks of the ’50s as the corset’s age.

Ho To Read Fashion goes from designers to styles, history, and trends.

If you want to learn about the correct terms of hems, trends, couture, and design, this is the book for you. I know I have used it to write the right words and make my writing better understood.

It’s a very visual book, so it’s easy to defeat the information with all of its pictures.

It’s pretty, useful, tiny, elegant, and straight to the point.

9. Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough.

Fashion is changing and adapting to the new interests of the world. Sustainability is the most important one. Most industries have agreed to change, and with this comes a milestone of understanding and learning.

The authors share a method named Cradle to Cradle that invites us to reduce the environment’s impact. And basically making us, the creators, take responsibility for what the client will end up using everything we give, from packaging to the product itself, how we make it, and how it’s sent to the buyer.

It gives you a good challenge to rethink the business and the production chain but not fall into a systematic place, but something more personal, congruent with the company, values, goals, and customers.

I recommend this book to anyone, not even fashion designers. It explains the simple things any company, despite its magnitude, can start doing to benefit the environment and evolve from a toxic world to a clean one.

10. Pattern making for Fashion Designers by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

If you are starting to get involved in the world of fashion, I recommend this book. It’s a way to have a teacher with you all the time, which is something you’ll want.

As ideas spread in your head, you’ll need clarification to make it happen.

I have this article about things to know before studying fashion design. I mention that sometimes one thinks of a fantastic design, and when it comes down to create it, the magic goes away because it’s impossible to make it.

By understanding patterns, you will create with intelligence and knowledge and improve your designs.

This book is easy to read and easy to understand. It also comes with tools, like a DVD, and theory you will like to have forever, or at least as long as you don’t need it again.




Mexican fashion designer, sustainability lover, learner; I enjoy to write about fashion and dreams, and I love my morning coffee and my skin care routine.

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Fatima Martinez

Fatima Martinez

Mexican fashion designer, sustainability lover, learner; I enjoy to write about fashion and dreams, and I love my morning coffee and my skin care routine.

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