How To Overcome Language Barriers In Your Fashion Team

designer how to languae barrier Jan 16, 2022
Fashion Sketches Can Communicate Design Intent

How To Overcome Language Barriers In Your Fashion Team

One of the beautiful things about working in the fashion industry is how global it is; you can probably meet someone from just about any country in the world while working in fashion. But, with so many people speaking so many languages how do you overcome language barriers in your fashion team? 

There are some common, 2nd languages that you'll come across all of the time in the fashion industry. There are also some lesser known ones too. But having a way to not only welcome people of different languages into your team, but also knowing how to properly communicate despite the language difference, will only improve the quality of the work you create together. Read on for more. 

Understand The Language You Have In Common

One of the great things about design, fashion, tech design, and the fashion industry in general is that we have our own jargon, or words that we only speak/use in our language. The way that a pattern is marked speaks to anyone regardless of the language they speak-they just have to know patterns. 

The way we sketch our design intent shows all who see it, what we want the garment to look like-and they can begin to make decisions about the work that is involved in creating that garment just by looking at the sketch. 

If they understand fabric, then fabric care symbols will be understood regardless of what their native tongue is. Having a sound understanding of the work you are doing, will help greatly in communicating across languages. 



Learn Some Words From Their Language 

I've worked with people from all over the world for the last 12 years. Prior to that I was educated with people from all over the world. The one thing I've learned about people, regardless of where they're from is that everyone wants to be respected. One of the best ways to show respect and that you are open to working together is to learn some simple words in your colleagues language. 

Learning how to say words like "hello", "thank you", You're welcome", "Nice to meet you"-or whatever works for you, is a great way to extend an olive branch, make that person feel comfortable around you, and begin to build a great working relationship. It's also a great sign of respect to someone who may be the only person on a team that speaks the language that they speak. 



Be Patient

Speaking a 2nd language to someone who speaks that language natively can be pretty intimidating; you can feel like they are judging how well you speak even though they probably aren't. Be patient. Allow the person to complete their thought without interrupting because it's taking them a second to find the word that they are thinking of. This is important because when people first start speaking a language they are probably thinking in their native tongue and translating it into the new language-something that takes some time to do. 

The more comfortable the person feels, the less likely they are to feel uncomfortable and that will help them in the long run to think more clearly while trying to translate their thoughts. 


Have A Translation App Or Book Handy 

Having an aid to help you decipher words when both you and your colleague are stumped is so helpful! There may be times where no one can think of the word that they're trying to say, or no one will understand the word that was said. Your translation apps and/or books come in handy here. 

Just make sure it can do both languages and not just one language, to the other. So English-Spanish, Spanish-English for example. 


Include Images

Including images is a great way to help prevent any mistakes that could happen (this is also a great tip for working with people who speak the same language as you). A picture is worth 1,000 words they say, so if you are ever running out of words to describe something, take a picture and include it with your email, pattern, or whatever it is you're working on. 


How are you and your team handling language barriers? Failure to address language barriers and lack of preparation for them could be causing the problems in your development and production-and they don't have to. Comment below how you've solved this easy to correct problem in your fashion team, or reach out to set up a time to talk through some ways we can solve them together. 

Have questions or want to learn more about Nic Hyl Fashion University? 

Click the link below to see if your questions can be answered on the site. 

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