Textile and Fashion Translation

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There is a general perception that the textile and fashion industry is unlike other disciplines that have a more technical and/or specific vocabulary. However, cultural differences between countries can make it difficult to understand certain terms, as the textile industry clearly operates internationally. Is it worth, then, hiring a translator or agency to handle the translation of these documents? Let's take a look.

Are professional translation services really necessary in the textile and fashion industry?

At first glance, it may not seem difficult to translate terms such as trousers, T-shirt, shirt or shoes. Those of us who live in the Western world have a somewhat limited view of our clothing and tend to overlook the large number of garments that people might wear in other parts of the world.

In fact, in the business environment, it rarely involves anything but suits, shoes, shirts and dresses. But for how long have people been wearing only these garments? And in any case, who said they all have the same names in all existing cultures? This presents a clear challenge of language localisation.

It doesn't take much to see that in the world of fashion there are many more garments than the ones we generally wear in our daily lives. Could you correctly name all the clothes on display at fashion shows? Are you confident you could name every garment on display in stores around the world?

As you might guess, the answer is not obvious. On the one hand, the proliferation of e-commerce has enabled companies in the industry to operate internationally and sell their products to a target market that is based anywhere in the world. Furthermore, the entire value chain (manufacturers, intermediaries and vendors) exchange descriptive documentation relating to the garments. In both cases the terms needs to be translated and adapted to the culture of the target country.

Why use a professional translator in the textile and fashion industry?

It is important to highlight the importance of international translators in the textile and fashion industry. Let's not forget that, apart from garments that are more or less universal, within each culture there are folklore and traditional garments that rarely have a simple translation into (or from) other languages.

Translators and agencies handling these projects need first-hand knowledge of the cultures of the countries for which the translation is to be localised. The skill set is of a professional who, even without having to master this area of specialisation in depth, understands the cultural peculiarities of each region and knows what each garment is called in each country. As we so often say: you need a translator who works with an agency such as sanscrit.

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