Outsourcing graphic design for clothing brands

Graphic Design for Clothing Brands: How to brief your graphic designer and get amazing graphics made

Looking to design graphics for your clothing brand? Here’s what you need to know if you’re using a graphic designer to create your artwork.

If you’re starting a clothing brand, at some point you will need to look at designing some graphics, whether it’s intricate print designs or just a simple logo to go on your clothes. In this blog post, we'll explain how to get graphics designed properly, specifically for clothing brands. 

1) How to outsource your clothing graphic design

The first point is - if you're not a graphic designer, don't worry! There are lots of people out there who can help you create amazing clothing graphics.

A lot of our customers use graphic designers through platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork to create bespoke artwork or logos for their brand. Before you do that though, designing graphics for clothing is not the same as designing a leaflet or a social media post, there are some key things you need to know to be able to get designs created that can be successfully applied to your clothing; we’re going to explain them below!

Having bespoke graphics custom-made for your brand is a great idea. It gives you individuality and adds interest to your clothing collections. If you’re outsourcing, i.e not creating the graphics yourself, there’s some information that is handy to know to make sure you get all the information you need in one go (which will then help you when creating tech packs for your clothing designs!).


2. Consider how the graphic will be applied to your clothing

Thinking about how your graphics will be applied to your clothes is something to work out before you brief your graphic designer. By 'application', we’re referring to how that graphic going to be applied to your garment – is it print, embroidery? You don’t necessarily have to have decided for sure by this point but just bear in mind that some graphics are not suited to certain applications.

Take a look at the graphics above. The one on the left is complex and has lots of small details. This wouldn’t be achievable in embroidery because the small details would not execute well in stitches. The graphic on the right is relatively simple, clear, and doesn’t have intricate details – this would be great for an embroidery.

So if you’ve got your heart set on a certain graphic application type for your clothing, make sure you let your graphic designer know the restrictions in advance, that way they can design an appropriate graphic that will work for your garments.

If you want to explore different graphic application types, see our blog post here for more info.

3. Size matters - how big will your clothing graphic be?

It’s helpful to have a rough idea of how big you want the graphic on your garments to be. You don’t need to be exact at this stage, but it’s helpful if you can guide your graphic designer, for example, by saying ‘this will be a large back print’, or ‘I’m thinking this will be a small motif used discreetly’.

Your graphic designer should then know that smaller graphics should not be super intricate, as you will struggle to execute tiny details clearly on your clothing, and they won’t be legible.


4. Use Pantone colours in your clothing artwork

Ask your designer to use Pantone references for the colours used, where possible.

Pantone swatches are a universal method for matching colours, so by specifying a Pantone colour number, a manufacturer on the other side of the world will be able to know exactly what colour shade you want. This helps avoid any errors of interpreting how a colour should look.

Ask your graphic designer to give you these reference numbers when they create the artwork (your manufacturer will need them for certain application types, like screen print or embroidery).

Clothing graphic using Pantone colours


5. Make a note of fonts used

It’s always useful to ask your graphic designer for the names of fonts used in graphics or logos for your clothing.

You may want to use that font elsewhere for your brand, or further down the track someone else may need to edit or re-create your graphics. Make a note of which fonts have been used and keep them for your records. You should also ask them to tell you the style and body weight of each font that they've used, for example, Merriweather Bold Italic (rather than just telling you that the font is Merriweather).

That way you can keep fonts consistent across your clothing designs and across your brand communications.

6. Get vector files for your clothing graphic designs!

This is possibly the most important point! Your graphic designer should send you all original files of your artwork. This will usually be a vector file (originated on Adobe Illustrator), or it can also be a Photoshop file, depending on the style of artwork you're using.

For a vector file, you’re looking for files ending in .ai, .svg, or .eps. You may not be able to open these file types yourself if you don’t have the software, but it’s crucial you have them nonetheless to be able to create your clothing tech packs and provide your manufacturer with high quality artwork files.
But why is this so important?

A vector file is a file with the original drawn artwork in – it’s editable and never loses quality or appears pixelated like a flat image does. At Hook and Eye UK we always ask for vector artwork prior to your tech pack and design session, so that in the session we can change colours, scale to different sizes that you want, and save out high quality graphics that are ready for manufacture.
For more info check out our blog post on vector graphics for clothing brands here.

Vector vs pixel artwork in clothing design

7. Have options for branding versatility

Here’s some bonus advice for briefing your graphic designer – ask for a few different variations of your logo. See the example below; several different variations on a theme that gives you a great logo pack with different options for different purposes and graphic applications.

Logo variations for a clothing brand

A lot of brands will have a main full logo, then split it to have just a text logo, a small icon, and maybe a simplified version too (especially important if your main logo is more detailed, as it may need to be simplified for certain applications).

This means your branding has versatility (meaning you can apply it in various different ways on your clothing), whilst still maintaining consistency.

In the example above note how the simplified text will be suitable for an embroidery, the icon works great for small labels, and the detailed logo graphic will make for an impactful large print.

IN CONCLUSION: Getting your clothing graphics designed properly

To make sure that your clothing graphics are designed properly, arm yourself with the information above so you know what to ask for from your graphic designer and are then fully equipped to add your bespoke graphics to your clothing designs!
Considering the end use (how you want to use the graphics on your clothing designs), will make sure the detail level and size of your graphic is suitable, cut out any edits that need to be done later, and ensure you have clear, well-executed graphic applications for your garments!
Gather information from your graphic designer that you will need in future – such as Pantone colour references and font names used, so that you can keep consistency across your clothing brand.
File types are super important! Ask for the original vector files of any clothing graphics, these will be files ending in .ai, .svg, or .eps. This will ensure you have the best quality graphics on your clothing designs and they can be used (and edited if necessary) in your tech packs.
At Hook and Eye UK we always work with you in a tech pack and design session to make sure your graphics will be executed the best they can be. We can help with any small edits and creating simple logos and motifs too! If you’re ready to get started, click here to book a tech pack and design session. 

Love Bethany and the H&E team xx 

P.s We're here for you if you have questions. Just drop us a WhatsApp on +447939591255