Fashion Lingo

Our Definitive Guide to Industry-standard Abbreviations and Acronyms.

Key Takeaways

  1. Having a firm grasp on the shorthand used by industry professionals to speak about fashion is one way for both aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned veterans to remain well-versed in this fast-paced business.
  2. By familiarizing oneself with these obvious and not so obvious acronyms, it becomes much easier to navigate this notoriously insular world.
  3. In addition to these words, there are a lot of descriptors for distinct fabrics, garment styles, and draping techniques that any fashion professional should learn as well.

Fashion is never stagnant. There are few if any industries that are ever-evolving in much the same way. Successful brands have always had to adapt to social conventions, changes within the supply chain, or the turning tide in consumer tastes. Today is no different, with both small independent designers and large corporations pivoting their business models to adjust to our new normal. The push for more sustainable clothing, outfits that are appropriate for WFH, and products that are convertible and can be worn in a multitude of ways have all become ubiquitous. Having a firm grasp on the shorthand used by industry professionals to speak about fashion is one way for both aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned veterans to remain well-versed in this fast-paced business. By familiarizing oneself with these obvious and not so obvious acronyms, it becomes much easier to navigate this notoriously insular world.

1. MOQ: Minimum Order Quantity

Our namesake newsletter is named after this term. The minimum order quantity is the fewest number of units required to be purchased during a production run and is usually set forth by the supplier or manufacturer.


2. BOM: Bill of Materials

A detailed list of all materials necessary in order to produce your finished product for factories to be able to create sample garments.


3. PPS: Pre-Production Sample

The final sample in a long line of revised models before a product goes into production. It should have the correct fabric and trims, as well as accurate measurements. This is the approved sample that is used as a reference before manufacturing begins.


4. TOP: Top of Production

A set of sample that is taken off the line during the first production run. See # 3.


5. AL: Affordable Luxury

A quality product with a steep but affordable price tag. The rise of social media and the push for more sustainable wear has led many customers to purchase mid-priced luxury labels over high street items. 


6. COO: Country of Origin

Some countries require the origin of a garment to be listed on its label by law.


7. FF: Fast Fashion

Rapidly produced inexpensive clothing by mass marketers such as Zara, H&M, and Topshop.


8. RC: Recrafted

Clothing created from used or damaged clothing that can not otherwise be recycled. 


9. SKU: Stock Keeping Unit

Identification code generated by the retailer to identify one particular size, style, and color of a product in its inventory.


10. TXT: Textiles

Any kind of knotted, knitted, or non-woven fabric.


11. SRP: Suggested Retail Price

The price the producer sets for a product and suggests retailers charge customers.


12. RTV: Returns to Vendor

Unwanted or damaged merchandise returned to the vendor from which it was bought.


 13. UOM: Unit of Measure

Type of measurements (units) used to measure various parts or items of your product. Trim UOM = each button, Fabric UOM= meter or yard, and Product UOM (e.g.cuff height) in inches or centimeters.


14. OTB: Open-to-buy

Buyers calculate the amount of a particular type of merchandise they plan to buy during a particular period. After some of the merchandise is ordered, the difference in cost between the money that was planned to spend versus what was spent is called the “open-to-buy.” This amount provides the buyer with some flexibility in order to purchase fast-moving products and restock shelves.


15. CAD/CAM/CIM: Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing/ Computer Integrated Manufacturing

Computer-based design and manufacturing technologies are becoming more prevalent within the industry. CAD programs support the design phase and give designers the ability to experiment with different fabrics, styles, and colors. Computer-Aided Manufacturing helps support the next phase of manufacturing -making the master plan for cutting the garment, cutting the fabrics, and sewing. Finally, Computer integrated Manufacturing programs move data from the design and manufacturing phases smoothly along the production process. (WWD)


16. DIP: Debtor in Possession Financing

A form of lending by which banks and other creditors will finance the needs of a debtor in possession that has sought protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If this is obtained, it may be possible for a company to work its way out of bankruptcy, instead of having to liquidate. (WWD)


17. LBD: Little Black Dress

A term used to describe a black evening or cocktail dress that is usually cut simply and is short. This wardrobe essential has been reinterpreted by many designers and is a perennial look that is never out of style.


18. QR: Quick Response

An inventory management system that was developed by apparel manufacturers and retailers in order to gather information about the consumer’s likes and needs, effectively shortening lead time to days instead of weeks. Often employed in fast fashion where products that reflect the consumer’s preferences at the retail level are made quickly.


 19. CNY: Chinese New Year

Designers seeking to manufacture clothing overseas must be aware of holidays that can slow down or stop clothing production. Chinese factories can close for up to eight weeks in January and February to celebrate the new year. (ClothierDesignSource)


20. WIP: Work in Progress

A document that includes all the styles currently going through production and the stage they’re at.


Starting an apparel line or beginning a career in fashion can be a daunting experience if you’re unfamiliar with the industry’s distinct jargon. These 20 terms are some of the most commonly used by insiders, so adding them to your vocabulary will prove invaluable. In addition to these words, there are a lot of descriptors for distinct fabrics, garment styles, and draping techniques that any fashion professional should learn as well.