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How To Increase Your Apparel Intelligence Quotient

Updated: May 16

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Woman with Vogue Magazine

Cracking the Code:  So what is AIQ and how do you raise your Apparel Intelligence Quotient?

Hey there, Conscious Fashion Friends! Let's talk about something cool you may have not heard of: Apparel Intelligence Quotient, or as we like to call it, AIQ. It's your superpower in the world of apparel and textiles – how much you know and how well you understand how to apply it in the fashion industry. But don''t fret, there's no test required for this one. It's all about your experiences, what you've learned, and how you're implementing to make a positive impact in the industry.

woman working on project at desk

Think of AIQ as flexing your brain muscles in three significant ways:

First, Its about Learning the Ropes

AIQ isn't just about hitting the books; it's about soaking up knowledge from everywhere – whether you're in a classroom, on the job, or just chatting with fellow caring fashion enthusiasts. It's about absorbing as much as you, even if it's an area not directly within your scope of work.

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Fashion Illustrations

Second: Spotting and Solving Fashion Dilemmas

Do you have an eye for spotting challenges and problems? Awesome! AIQ means pointing them out and coming up with practical and applicable solutions, whether it's fixing production hiccups or predicting the next big technology. Exploring different methods and speaking up to share your insights can go a long way.

models on a fashion runway
Runway show

Third: Learn to be a Fashion Ninja

Being competent in the fashion world isn't just about knowing your stuff; it's also about being quick on your feet and ninja-like in handling new situations. From understanding new methods to juggling the nitty-gritty of the fashion biz, it's all about being sharp and savvy. Having the ability to pivot quickly and without resistance will provide support for the team as things adjust.

threads on a knitting machine
Threads on a knitting machine

Now, let's break it down into some specific areas where you can increase your AIQ:

  • Textiles & Mills: From yarn construction to fabric technology , AIQ means knowing your way around textiles & materials. Learn from online courses on textile production or visit local textile factories and ask a ton of questions for firsthand experience.

  • Design & Product Development: Ever dreamed of creating the next big thing? AIQ is all about understanding how you turn those dreams into reality, whether it's sketching out designs or nailing the technical stuff. It's important to know how to commercialize a design and the development process it goes through to get it into production. Learn not only about setting up a good efficient design, but how to best manufacture it for maximum efficiencies and lowering its impact on the planet. Try out design software like Adobe Illustrator for creating technical sketches for presentations, tech packs and design detail sheets. Gain a full understanding of the development process, which will make you a more efficient designer. Enroll in design workshops to hone your skills in these areas.

    • Websites such as Skillshare and Domestika offer a wide range of online courses taught by industry professionals on fashion design, pattern making, and product development. Additionally, platforms like Fashionary  provide tools and resources for fashion designers.

  • Merchandising & Retail: Want to be the boss on the planning or retail side of things? AIQ in retail means knowing the ins and outs of supply chains, whether you're slaying in-store or working in the online space. Take online courses on retail management or intern at your favorite boutique to learn the ropes.

    • Online platforms like Retail Dive and NRF (National Retail Federation) offer articles, reports, and insights into retail trends, strategies, and best practices. Retail-focused courses on platforms like Udemy and Coursera can also provide valuable knowledge on merchandising and retail management.

  • Manufacturing: Quality control? Check. Sustainability superhero? Double-check. AIQ in manufacturing means making sure everything from threads to seams is top-notch. Attend seminars on sustainable manufacturing practices or volunteer at a garment factory to understand production processes. Nothing beats being on the factory floor to gain a full understanding.

    • Websites like Sustainable Apparel Coalition ( and Fashion Revolution ( offer resources and guides on sustainable manufacturing practices in the fashion industry. Additionally, platforms like FutureLearn and edX offer courses on sustainable fashion and manufacturing processes.

  • Sales & Marketing: Got the gift of the gab? AIQ in sales and marketing is all about building relationships with customers through your charm and smarts, whether you're selling fabrics or the latest must-have artisan accessory. Practice your sales pitch with friends or delve into online marketing courses to sharpen your skills.

    • Websites like HubSpot Academy and Google Digital Garage offer free online courses on sales, marketing, and digital advertising. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy also offer courses specifically tailored to fashion marketing and branding.

Additionally, industry-specific forums and communities such as Fashion Industry Network ( and FashionUnited ( provide opportunities for networking, learning, and staying updated on industry news and trends.

By leveraging these online resources, you can further enhance your knowledge, skills, and expertise in the fashion industry, ultimately boosting your Apparel Intelligence Quotient (AIQ) and achieving success in your fashion career.

2 girls in front of computer learning
Fashion Mentoring

What are even more ways to boost your AIQ and become a successful fashion pro?

  • Find a Fashion Mentor: Connect with someone who's been there, done that, and can show you the ropes. (Psst.....connect with me here!)

  • Chat it Up: Chat with fashion pros to pick their brains and get inspired.

  • Shadow Mode: Step into someone else's shoes for a day and shadow them to learn the tricks of the trade.

  • Stay Curious: Hit up fashion events, workshops, and seminars to keep your finger on the pulse of what's hot and what's not.

  • Experiment & Innovate: Be bold, try new things, and think outside the box. Innovation is vital to boosting your AIQ.

  • Reflect & Learn from Mistakes: Every stumble is a chance to grow. Reflect on your experiences, learn from your mistakes, and return stronger.

  • Networking: Build connections within the industry. You never know who might open a door or offer valuable insights.

  • Diversify Your Knowledge: Don't limit yourself to one aspect of fashion. The more you know, the more versatile and valuable you become. For an opportunity to learn the Ultimte design and Development process, learn how here.

  • Stay Updated: Fashion evolves constantly. Stay on top of trends, technologies, and industry news to keep your AIQ sharp.

If you're hungry for more and want to dive deep into the fashion world, look no further than our Conscious Fashion Design Academy! It's your one-stop shop to learn all about textiles, design, retail, and more. Plus, you'll connect with industry mentors who'll guide you on your journey and become part of a supportive community of fellow fashion enthusiasts. So what are you waiting for? Let's kickstart your fashion journey and take your Apparel IQ to the next level!

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Hey there, lovely fashion friends! My name is Britta Cabanos, and I'm thrilled to have you here! 


I'm a 25+ year fashion industry design professional, and I'm passionate about supporting conscious designers, ethical makers, and sustainability. I believe that fashion can be a powerful force for good, and I'm committed to helping aspiring fashion industry pros make their mark in this exciting and ever-changing field. 


If you share my passion for conscious fashion and sustainability,  then you're in the right place. I offer industry insights, mentorship, connections, and resources to help you achieve your goals and make a positive impact in the world. Let's connect and explore the possibilities together - are you ready to join me on this exciting journey?

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About the Book

"Conscious design is a philosophy used at the Peterman Design Firm. We use it to create brands and products that restore and sustain our planet. The Peterman Method for conscious design is the culmination of Ian’s 15+ years working in product development and Jessica’s 20 years in working as a healer and studying regenerative technologies and tools for both people and our planet. Together, we’ve written this book to lay out a culmination of our combined experiences. Our goal is to help other people start looking at the world, and design, in a more conscious way."

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