Textile & Fashion Expressions – Demystified

A high percentage of clothing designers do not attend any type of school to learn the trade. Most often, today’s entrepreneurs start with an great idea and run with it. That means there’s a lot to learn on your own. As with any industry, there is plenty of terminology to understand. Fashion terms aren’t just fancy jargon that designers use to show off. Knowing the meaning of the most common words used in the industry will help you have a better mastery of your subject matter and better communicate with fashion buyers, garment producers, and industry partners.

Workshop of tailor studio, tailoring wear to order.

Here are many commonly used terms and acronyms used in the printing, textile design and fashion industry:

Definitions for the new designer

  • Brick and Click: A brick and click is when you have a brick and mortar store and a website.
  • Pret-A-Porter: This term is French for ready to wear. Which means that the designs were made using standard sizing charts and the products are ready to wear by consumers.
  • Haute Couture: Haute is French for high. Couture is French for dressmaking. Sometimes you will hear people say high fashion, or just couture. Haute Couture is the highest level of fashion. This is where the highest quality of products and craftsmanship happens in the industry, resulting in the most expensive designs.
  • Fashion Cycle: A fashion cycle is the lifespan of a particular fashion. There are five stages: introduction, rise, peak, decline, and obsolescence. It’s the same as a product life cycle, but in fashion.
  • Textiles: Textile differs from the word fabric because a textile is a material that is woven.
  • Look Book: A look book is a designer’s fashion collection displayed in photographs. These are often displayed on a designer’s website to show off their work.
  • Tonal: Referring to using the same colors, with slight variations, at once.
  • Grading: Grading is taking the pattern sample size and adding, or decreasing, the pattern size. If the sample pattern size is a men’s M, and you need the pattern to be in an S and an L as well, that process of making those other sized patterns is called grading.
  • Private Label: merchandise made by a contract or third-party manufacturer and sold under a retailer’s brand name. As the retailer, you specify everything about the product – what goes in it, how it’s packaged, what the label looks like – and pay to have it produced and delivered to your store.
  • Lead Time: The time between initiation and completion of a product or project.

Commonly used acronyms

  • CAD: This stands for computer-aided designer. This means you used Adobe Illustrator, or a similar tool, to create your design. A manufacturer might tell you at some point that they made suggestions on your CAD.
  • CAM: This stands for computer-aided manufacture. This is a software manufacturers use to create your designs. The CAD is placed into the CAM system for production.
  • PO: This is an abbreviation for Purchase Order.
  • DTM: This stands for Dyed to Match.
  • POS: This stands for point of sale. This is the system where consumer transactions take place. There are also Cloud POS systems.
  • DC: This stands for distribution center.
  • MOQ: Minimum Order Quantity
  • FLS: Full Line Stores or Floor Ready
  • FOB: is a shipment term used to indicate whether the seller or the buyer is liable for goods that are damaged or destroyed during shipping
  • PMS: Pantone Matching System. There can be so much variation in color using CMYK that Pantone set out to create a system that allowed for consistent color. This way a designer can create a logo that will print consistently from job to job and printer to printer. Visit the Pantone website here.
  • TCX: Textile Cotton Extended. The latest, most up-to-date and current Pantone Fashion, Home and Interiors textile color reference.
  • TPX: Pantone Textile Paper Extended.
  • C1S: Coated One Side
  • C2S: Coated Two Side
  • FTC: The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. FTC.gov
  • RN: Registered Number is a number issued by the Federal Trade Commission if requested. They are given to businesses residing in the S. that are engaged in the manufacture, importing, distribution or sale of textiles, wool, or fur products. Such businesses are not required to have an RN. Some companies choose to use the RN in place of a name on the label or tag that is required to be affixed to these products. Read the FTC’s frequently asked questions regarding RN numbers.
Floor Ready

Floor Ready Terminology

  • UPC: Universal Product Code. This type of barcode is the most common in the United States retail system used on almost all types of goods. 12 digits in length and identifies both the product and the vendor. Use this link to help create and purchase your UPC barcode numbers.
  • EAN: European Article Number. This type of barcode is the most common outside of the United States and identifies both the product and the vendor.
  • GTIN: Global Trade Item Number. can be used by a company to uniquely identify all of its trade items. GS1 defines trade items as products or services that are priced, ordered or invoiced at any point in the supply chain.
  • RFID: Radio-Frequency Identification. Refers to a technology whereby digital data encoded in RFID tags or smart labels are captured by a reader via radio waves. Read more about RFID.
  • EDI: Electronic Data Interchange. The inter-company communication of business documents in a standard format. The simple definition of EDI is a standard electronic format that replaces paper-based documents such as purchase orders or invoices.
  • ASN: Advanced Shipping Notice. The most important communication protocol when it comes to assuring that an order will be delivered as promised.
  • DC: Distribution Center

Trim and Finishing Definitions

  • Fuse: Using heat to seal an edge. Usually referring to a woven or printed clothing label.
  • Damask: A reversible figured fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibers, with a pattern formed by weaving.
  • Gang Sheet: refers to printing multiple designs on the same transfer sheet.
  • Hole to knot: The distance between a hole in a hangtag and the tied knot in the string going through the hole.
  • Shadow: This refers to an occurrence when a thread color used in a logo can show through the background color. For example, in woven labels that are woven in white and black is used as the logo color. You will get a shadow on the white portion.
  • Emboss/Deboss: the processes of creating either raised or recessed relief images and designs in paper and other materials. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the surface of the material but might protrude somewhat on the reverse side.
  • Bleed Cut: A bleed is essentially the visual content that runs over the trim edge, or the intended cut line on the printed stock sheet. Once the stock sheet is printed on, the trim line is cut and the bleed is removed.
  • Die Cut: Refers to a shape other than a square or rectangle in weaving or in printing.
  • Plate: Printing plates are used to transfer images and text onto the surface you want to print on.
  • Point Value: Points are used to indicate the thickness of each sheet of paper. Points are measured simply by using calipers to measure the thickness. Each point represents 1/1000th of an inch. For example, most basic business cards are, on average, of 10 pts or points thick.
    Paper thickness points
  • Coated: Stock that has a surface sealant and relates to sheen
  • Gloss: Stock that has a high sheen
  • Matte: A non-glossy, flat looking paper stock
  • Uncoated: Stock that has not been coated. Cannot be combined with UV or aqueous coating.




By learning and understanding these definitions and terms, you will be able to better communicate with manufacturers and designers and have a better understanding of the work you’re doing and why certain processes occur in certain ways.

Here are some helpful links:

Federal Trade Commission –  FTC.gov

GS1 for all types of barcoded information. GS1.org

Read about the best software for clothing design