Businesses around the world are demanding higher productivity from their employees. The United States has reached all-time high labor productivity as we get 4 times more work done then our grand-parents in 1950.

Technology has contributed to most of our productivity. With software, information communication, data processing, and automated control, it has made us a smart and sophisticated workforce to our value-added enterprises.

But, with more than 4 million software, browser extensions, phone & tablet apps to choose from, it can get overwhelming. In this blog post we will suggest 15 apps that will make your work much easier, faster, smarter and profitable. In short, better ROI (Return on Investment).

These apps are divided into 5 categories that will walk you through all stages of building a product. These stages include sources for fashion inspiration, applications used for product design, product development apps, manufacturing and marketing. So this is basically the A-Z guide for your entire product development process.

Must have apps for fashion designers


Fashion Inspiration

What is the very first step of the product design? It is getting inspired by something! It doesn't necessarily have to be a piece of clothing, it could be a mood board, movie or a piece of art. Here is a list of our suggested sources to get inspiration from.


WGSN

WGSN trend forecasting platform

WGSN is a trend forecasting platform. It constantly monitors how consumers think, feel and behave. Their experts help brands stay relevant by predicting the products, experiences and services people will need in future. WGSN's network of industry experts, provides inspiration to a community of over 43,000 product designers and thought leaders in 32 global markets.

Price: Free registration



Art Authority

Art channel by Art Authority

Art will always be a biggest source of inspiration in the fashion world. The Art Authority app lets you browse over 100,000+ paintings and sculptures by 1,500 of the Western world’s leading artists from ancient times to today. Their visual library is easy to access and use for every designer.

Price: $4.99



Vogue Runway

Vogue Runway streaming online fashion shows

Take inspiration from other designers' collections! Vogue Runway is an app created by the world's leading fashion publisher. And it offers unlimited access to the world’s latest collections. Their archive contains over 1 million runway images from over 12,000 fashion shows including the new ones and old from way back to 2000s.

Price: Free

Other apps for fashion inspiration: Pinterest, Business of Fashion, Instagram, The Hunt.




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Design

Fashion design includes sketching an initial idea and technical specifications. The old-school method of sketching on the paper is outdated. These apps will help you sketch your designs fast and customize them on the go.


Adobe Illustrator

Clothing technical sketches done with Adobe Illustrator

Fashion and technical designers use Illustrator to draw flat sketches (or functional sketches) with callouts for construction and styling details to put them in tech packs so your team and manufacturer can easily understand and follow.

If you are new to illustrator then there are some great resources available. You can join free webinars and training classes from Fashion Classroom or Sew Heidi.

Price: $29.99/month



Sketch

Create product prototype with Sketch app

Adobe Illustrator has dominated the world of creative software for decades with so many features BUT only until 5 years ago when Sketch was launched.

In a nutshell, Sketch has almost overtaken Adobe Illustrator in the graphic design world. Why? because Sketch is fast, intuitive and has lots of Plugins. There's so much development by third-party developers who continue to create some really smart plugins and keep extending the functionality of Sketch.

Besides, The simplicity and ease of use in exporting and managing assets in Sketch make it an excellent fit for young/up-and-coming designers.

Price: One-time licensing fee $99.



Pret-A-Template

Select from over 500 templates on Pret-A-Template

Pret-A-Template is your digital sketchbook. It allows you to sketch your designs on iPhone or iPad. They offer over 500 templates to choose from, including bodies and details like shoes. Select from predefined skin, hair and makeup color pallets for a quick success.

Price: Starts at $5.99

Other apps for fashion design to consider: Sketchbook, Corel Draw.




Product Development

Product development includes the following stages: design, planning and developing salable products. It involves processes of getting your fashion products ready to manufacture.


Techpacker

Building a factory-ready Tech Pack in Techpacker

Tech packs (or specification sheets) used to be the most time-consuming tasks and every fashion designer will tell you the endless frustrations of creating flat sketches, condensed wordings to fit in a format, amendments and repeated data-entry and fixing those measurement numbers.... grrrrr!

Techpacker took the challenge of making tech packs better, faster and together. By breaking down tech packs into cards, the process of creating tech packs becomes simple, visual, collaborative and 70% faster. The beauty of cards is that you can copy, move, reuse, connect and do lots and lots of things with it. You can bring your entire team or manufacturers on Techpacker and integrate with other apps to make it super powerful.

Price: Free 7 days trial and thereafter US$49/month



CLO3D

Creating a 3D prototype in CLO 3D

If you are looking for a futuristic pattern making software, or a way to visualize your sketches in 3D so you can eliminate at least one sample, then you can check out CLO 3D .

It begins by picking up a 3D body – avatar or dress form, available in different shapes and sizes. Then either import your own patterns or draw them from scratch directly in CLO. Finally, pair each seam of the garment, and select fabric to see them all coming together in 3D. You can then fine-tune your designs in real-time and adjust the pattern.

Price: Free 1-month trial and thereafter US$99/month



Zapier & Workflow

Creating workflow in Zapier & Workflow

With all these apps, the new challenge is moving data around and communicating between them so we found that the best way to do it is, Zapier (for web) and Workflow (for i-phones).

It connects more than 750 web apps for you so you can create workflows and automate tasks in the background and you can focus on more important work. There are thousands of pre-available workflows such as resizing images and adding to Dropbox automatically.

Price: Starting at $50/month

Other product development apps to consider: Slack, Pantone Color Finder.




Manufacturing

Once the garment is designed and the prototype is created, it's time to produce it. Selecting and sourcing the right fabric and finding the right manufacturer are the starting points.


Maker's Row

Makers Row helps you find a right manufacturer and a materials supplier

Finding a manufacturer specific to your product categories is hard. And finding a good one is even harder. You can start by asking around for references however it could be time-consuming. So if you are specifically looking for a manufacturer in the USA with crowd-sourced reviews then Makers Row could be useful. They have a fairly decent list of about 3,900 apparel and accessories related makers that are clearly sorted by categories and rating.

But then, many products still can't be produced locally in the USA and what if you are looking for lower manufacturing costs and a greater number of manufacturers to choose from then Global sources is a good resource as they put a lot of effort into listing factories that meet higher standards compared to its direct competitor Alibaba (another listing website).

Price: Starts at $35/month



Swatchon

Finding the right materials with the help of Swatchon

Swatchon is a wholesale fabric platform based in Seoul, South Korea. It ships to 52 countries and has 100000 fabrics to choose from online. This platform works with brands of all sizes allowing them to place an order as small as 3 yards, or up to 500,000 yards.

Price: Free for ready-to-wear businesses, $500 prepayment for everyone else.



Higg Co

Higg Co partners with Sustainable Apparel Coalition

Higg Co is a technology company that focuses on building tools that power sustainability measurement. Higg Co helps brands reduce energy use, combat audit fatigue, and safeguard those who work in the supply chain. Higg Materials Sustainability Index allows designers to create custom materials, and understand their environmental impact.




Marketing

When the product is manufactured it's time to sell it! Using the following apps you will be able to build a website, create line sheets and market your business.


Shopify

Setting a webstore on Shopify

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows you to easily set up an online store and start selling. It lets you customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders — all with a few clicks. It powers over 350,000 businesses and over 1,000 Enterprise Plus customers.

Price: 7 Days free trial, thereafter US$29 per month



Brandboom

Creating Line Sheets for retailers in Brandboom

Brandboom is a wholesale e-commerce platform to create clean Line sheets, get orders directly from retailers & receive payments in simple steps. After setting up your line sheet, you can directly send a link to your buyers and showrooms so they can book directly and can also pay. This will avoid so many back-&-forth communication and missing critical SKU/sizes etc.

Price: Free with limits and thereafter US$79/mo.



Garmentory

Setting up a store in Garmentory online marketplace

Garmentory is one of the top online marketplaces existing right now. It is an ultimate source of indie boutiques, emerging and contemporary designers. By setting up a store on their online platform Garmentory gives brands access to thousands of customers around the globe.

Boutiques and brands can submit their application on Garmentory website and start selling after it's approved.

Other marketing apps to consider: Afterpay, Like to know it, Faire.




Also read

5 Top Trends In Fashion Manufacturing Technology
Check out these five major trends reshaping the future of apparel manufacturing.
Top 9 Technology Trends Reshaping The Fashion Industry In 2020
Learn how designers and brands are adopting these latest technologies in their fashion supply chains.