Garment Categories

Within the market categories, there is further organization into garment, or product, categories. Different garment categories require different expertise. It’s because of this that teams—like design, production, fabric, and tech teams—are separated by category. Even factories specialize by garment category since each garment category requires different sets of machinery and sewing skills. In smaller companies with less employees, there may be one or a few teams working on a variety of product categories, but in large companies with many employees, this is rare. 

It’s not uncommon for people to work on a single category their entire career. Going narrow and deep creates an expert in a specific area. I developed more shallow and wide, specializing in knit tops and dresses, woven tops and dresses, outerwear, and denim jackets over the course of my career. It’s helpful to know which garment categories interest you, but there is no right or wrong way to position yourself as a designer. You may unexpectedly arrive in new garment categories over the course of your career and develop a broader perspective.

Garment categories 

  • Career/ Business/ Suits—tailored pieces including jackets, skirts, trousers, pants, and coats

  • Sportswear (coordinated separates)—broad range of non-tailored tops, skirts, and pants. Easy-care machine-tailored jackets are included in this category.

  • Active sportswear—any garment that is designed for performance in activities and sports like yoga, hiking, running, tennis, snowboarding, etc. This category employs technical fabrics with properties like moisture wicking, anti-pilling, heat transfer, and sun-protection.

  • Outerwear—can include lightweight jackets like windbreakers, utility jackets, trench coats, and rainwear to cold weather pieces like puffer and parka jackets.

  • Knitwear—any garment that is fully-fashioned.* This category is quite technical and requires a specialization in knitting techniques. Sometimes cut-and-sew knits* are included in the category.

  • Dresses—includes all dresses except for evening wear and bridal

  • Evening wear and Bridal—this is a specialized category because of the techniques and fabric typically used in special occasion gowns require special handling. Garments can be hand or machine embellished depending on the price-point.

  • Intimate apparel and beachwear—these groups are placed together because they share similar garment silhouettes, body-hugging stretch fabrics, and sewing techniques. Underwear, bras, shapewear, robes, swimwear, and beach cover ups are included in this category

  • Denim—any garment that is made out of denim including jeans, jackets, short, and overalls. This category requires specialized knowledge of denim weave, denim wet process, and dry process techniques like destroy and grinding.


* Full-fashion-knit—a garment that has been sculpted and shaped through adding and reducing knitwear stitches (there is no cutting and sewing of fabric into seams.) This process of engineering a design with special stitches can be done by hand knitting but is commercially produced by knitting machines

*Cut-and-sew knit—a garment that has been sculpted and shaped through cutting knit fabric by pattern piece and sewing seams together