Translating Fashion Brief insight into fashion translation




  • Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

    Fashion is a fascinating world and one of the most interesting areas for translation. It can seem easy on the first sight, but, as any other specialization, it has its rules and challenges. This field includes a variety of genres, specific terminology and requires special skills and qualities from translators.

    First of all, working with fashion translations is inconceivable without at least a minimal interest in fashion. It includes not only knowing, for example, the difference between jeggings, leggings and treggings, or having a clear idea about what tie-dye, paisley or tartan are, but also being familiar with actual trends, collaborations and other events in the fashion world. For instance, Pull & Bear has a limited edition line dedicated to The Stranger Things series and a special collection created together with the famous Spanish racer Marc Marquez. Adidas collaborates with Pharrell Williams, the world-known musician, for their sneakers, and Mango features Adrien Brody in one of their latest advertisement campaigns. Therefore, while translating about all this, Google is much help, or one can just turn on Netflix, in case of series, and see a chapter or two in order to understand what this is all about.

    Secondly, fashion translator should be capable of generating attractive texts. Fashion creates an atmosphere of fairy tale and ephemeral beauty, stimulating attraction and desire to buy and own all these fascinating things. When transferring the message to other cultures and languages, the translation should not ruin this magic. This is the responsibility of the translator, and it is crucial to be able to create fluent, attractive and captivating texts, most of all, when it refers to advertisement campaigns, web content or press releases.

    Finally, the attention to details and patience are two indispensable qualities a fashion translator should have. Translating fashion is not all about glamour events and interesting stories. The most part of the work are so-called product descriptions, and these are many small and similar texts with plenty of minuscule details and lots of terminology. So, thoroughness and good investigation skills are a must.

    What genres and types of texts does fashion translation include? There are several of them, and each one has its own particular features.

    1. Advertisement campaigns.

    These are the most interesting, and at the same time, the most challenging ones. Usually the difficulties arise when you need to transmit some wordplay or hidden meaning in your target language. It really requires a high level of general culture, good searching skills and creativity.

    1. Press releases.

    This type of texts requires perfect quality. They should be concise, fluent and attractive. Anyway, the translator has some freedom here, in other words, we can change the structure of the sentence or choose the most natural and well-sounding words for translation. Having in mind the final reader and the image that the brand wants to transmit is the key.

    1. Product descriptions.

    These are the most boring, but the most frequent. At the same time, if you are interested in fashion, you will really enjoy seeing all the collections before they appear in stores and maybe benefit from choosing something you like. The small details are the hidden rocks here. Often the descriptions are very similar, and only a couple of features are different (maybe the color or some embellishment), so while translating this type of texts it is necessary pay close attention to every word. Normally there are a lot of them, so the translator will have to stay concentrated during long periods.

    1. Social media.

    It includes push-notifications for mobile, newsletters, messages for social media such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. Personally, I think that the main difficulty here is to manage to connect with the target audience, especially when their age or lifestyle is absolutely different from yours. In addition, the length of the phrase is almost always an issue. So the task is to generate short, attractive messages in tune with the audience you don´t belong to, using a limited number of characters. Imagine that.

    1. Internal communication and legal documentation.

    These are necessary parts of any company´s everyday activity. This kind of texts doesn´t have any particular features, so usually it´s just common sense, usual quality and fidelity in translating.

    Add to all the above guidelines and glossaries for almost everything and very tight schedules (everything for yesterday or now!), and you will understand, to a certain extent, what fashion translation really is.

    Apart from all its superficial glamour, fashion is complicated, but enriching field for translators. This is very interesting and demanding area, it requires a lot, but gives a lot too.

    Natalia Sgibneva

    About Natalia Sgibneva

    EN-RU and ES-RU professional translator. Key areas: fashion, cosmetics, marketing, advertisement and tourism.

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