Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

Professional vision in fashion design: practices and views of teachers and learners

Caruso, Valentina; Cattaneo, Alberto; Gurtner, Jean-Luc; Ainsworth, Shaaron


Valentina Caruso

Alberto Cattaneo

Jean-Luc Gurtner


Professional vision is a key skill in visually-oriented professions, but its relevance to vocational education and training has only drawn limited attention from researchers. When educating fashion designers, professional vision is vital because precisely analysing clothing is required to create good products suitable for customers. In this study, we investigate what visual information must be observed in fashion design and how the professional vision of teachers and learners differs. Semi-structured interviews targeting the visual information that should be observed in fashion design were conducted with 10 teachers and 71 of their students (the latter in groups) and subjected to content analysis. Additionally, tests involving identifying and correcting clothing defects were administered to 9 of these teachers and 132 learners across three years of training to examine how looking at clothing differs between teachers and learners. Finally, two [4 by 1] ANOVAs with the level of training as the between-groups factors were conducted to examine the differences in the total number of defects identified and the number of accurate corrections suggested. Together, the quantitative and qualitative data show that professional vision in fashion design is a multifaceted skill that takes time to develop. Professional vision enables identifying the 1) different details and patterns needed to reproduce a garment; 2) defects in manufacturing, quality, and wearability; and 3) characteristics of the customer’s body. The findings also suggest that as fashion designers develop their skills, they cease looking at the surface features of clothing and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach that considers how a final garment could be realised for specific clients.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-04
Print ISSN 1874-785X
Publisher Humana Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 1
Pages 47–65
APA6 Citation Caruso, V., Cattaneo, A., Gurtner, J., & Ainsworth, S. (2019). Professional vision in fashion design: practices and views of teachers and learners. Vocations and Learning, 12(1), 47–65. doi:10.1007/s12186-018-09216-7
Keywords professional vision; fashion designers; vocational education
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Vocations and Learning. The final authenticated version is available online at:


You might also like

Downloadable Citations