Design, Photography, & Fashion

Choosing Fabrics

Marc Jacobs

Lesson time 23:28 min

For Marc, it all begins with fabric. Learn how Marc chooses fabrics for his designs and how he works with different fibers. Then learn the story behind the fabric choices for three of his garments.

Marc Jacobs
Teaches Fashion Design
In 18 lessons, iconic designer Marc Jacobs teaches you his process for creating innovative, award-winning fashion.
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In the beginning, we start with fabric. We start looking at fabrics, touching fabrics, feeling fabrics, and, again, sometimes it just feels so abstract. But-- and, you know, once in a while, it's a fabric that kind of inspires the dress. And other times it's the dress we want to make that inspires the fabric. So there isn't really-- you know, all roads lead to Rome, they say, but-- but, yeah, sometimes we can see something that really looks or feels so great and say, like, oh, I want to make something out of this. And other times there's an idea of something we want to make and so it's about researching the type of fabrics that would make that thing. In terms of rendering the silhouette you want, fabric plays a big role. So if you're interested in creating something that's very constructed, and you want the fabric to do that for you, you obviously need to consider the weight and the sort of-- what the fabric will give you as opposed to like if you wanted to create something where, you know, the fabric rested on an under structure. Again, what you're trying to achieve, if you want the fabric to help you to achieve that, you need to really consider it. I mean, look what we're going through, for instance, now is I want things that have like a sort of sponginess. Well, I don't want to pad them, I want the fabric to do that. So it has to be either by creating a bonded fabric, or you have to use a fabric that's used-- that's created by using a certain yarn. Anyway, knowing a little bit about what we want in the silhouette, or what you want in the silhouette, will help you to choose the fabrics that you use. I think you choose your fabrics. Your fabrics are going to help you express your idea. If you have an idea, if you know where you want to go, you choose the fabrics that-- accordingly. Again, if you want to create something sexy and tight, you need a fabric that stretches, unless you don't want to-- unless you're not concerned with how somebody can move in it, you know. You choose-- if you want to create something diaphanous and drapey, you have to use something light, like chiffon or gauze or-- well, various lightweight fabric. So, it's perhaps important-- or it's definitely important to think about what it is you want to say into it-- in order to choose the fabrics you work with. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think color transmits, or helps to transmit, a mood. So, as in the-- is-- as in the case of wanting to do something very Goth inspired, we made a specific choice to create a very, very dark and moody palette, and we used a lot of black and grays and plums and blues to create this cold Gothic sort of feeling in terms of spirit. When we did the most recent collection, which was inspired by hip hop, we were very sparing with color. We used colors associated with casual clothes from that period, and just red as a strong color. The rest of them were neutral. Becaus...

Create your own trends

Marc Jacobs’s infamous grunge collection got him fired. It also won him the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. In his first online fashion design class, the 11-time CFDA Award winner teaches his hands-on process for creating clothes that push boundaries and set trends. Learn Marc’s construction techniques, how he creates unique shapes and silhouettes, and how you can develop your own ideas from the first sketch to the final piece.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learned to design and what's a life of designer, I look at clothes now from a different perspective. Thank you Marc Jacobs for this class.


So amazing! Started this class with a ​slight interest in fashion and learned so much and am now inspired to learn more and possibly create.

I love to see who inspired the person who now also inspires millions.


Angie G.

I enjoyed this lesson very much so. I think it is fantastic to have someone like Marc give you encouragement to try, and be the creative. It feels reassuring to me. I am very happy to dare to follow his advice.

RJane @.

The outfit on the mannequin is a one-time use for a celebrity. @RJanesRealm

RJane @.

I like to touch the fabric in stores. I highly recommend buying clothes in the store so you can feel the fabric and try it on. @RJanesRealm


Dear Marc Jacobs, I would like to ask you one more question. As designers' work process is different from case to case, how it would be better, to choose the fabric first and then come with the sketches or better first come with a sketch idea and then choose the fabric?

Miracle M.

I think the class is great a bit more advance than i thought it would be even as a beginner but its good.

Tracey H.

My favorite part of the lesson was hearing the story behind the three garments. I was encouraged to hear Marc talk about how the fabric informs the design choices and tells you what it wants to be. I have a hard time designing if I don't have the fabric. Once the fabric is there, then the ideas start to flow.


I really enjoyed this lesson. My favorite fabrics to design with are light weight silks. I think a dress or a high low skirt's movement behind you when walking is very beautiful and has such a feminine feel.

A fellow student

Good lesson. This is a quick lesson on fabric and how it can be used to unleash imagination.

A fellow student

Really loved this session! I understand a lot more the factors affecting the choices of fabrics. I particularly liked the idea of mixing and matching the fabrics and using them in unexpected settings. It creates surprise and makes the outfit memorable.

Agnes C.

Absolutely love this case studies lesson. It shows how different inspiration and creation process can be, even in the same collection. You just have to let it go and focus on what you want. Sounds easy but it's not that easy in fact!