What is the Difference between Apparel and Garment?

Difference between apparel and garment
I have used these two terms interchangeably since I entered the apparel industry. Though I felt there were some differences between apparel and garments I had never asked it to myself.

When one of my close friends asked me to differentiate these two terms, it triggered me to explore more about them and find their differences. I explained the possible differences but it became more like general points without references. 

The question came to his mind when he was working on finding the garment market size. In a discussion, business experts pointed out that the apparel market size is bigger than the garment market. This statement clearly points out that there are some differences between 'Apparel' and 'Garment' items. 

But apparently, we don't know the differences. 

A few days ago, I posted this question on my LinkedIn page to collect thoughts on this question from other individuals. What is the difference between 'Apparel' and 'Garment'?

After searching for answers on Google and ChatGPT I found a summarised answer. It is also a kind of thought. I shared the answer with contacts on LinkedIn.

A few contacts posted their thoughts and defined these two terms. On this page, I have shared all of those thoughts that would give you more ideas on how we think and narrate the common terms. 

Like me, you might have never considered differentiating the meaning of Apparel and Garment. 

According to you what is the difference between 'Apparel' and 'Garment'?

See how ChatGPT has explained these two terms.

"Apparel" and "garment" are terms often used interchangeably, but they can have slightly different connotations depending on context. Both terms refer to clothing items, but they might be used differently in various industries or situations.

"Apparel" is a broader term that encompasses all types of clothing and accessories worn by individuals. It includes everything from everyday clothing like shirts, pants, dresses, and jackets to specialized clothing like sportswear, uniforms, and formal attire. Apparel can refer to a collective range of clothing options available in a specific market or industry.

"Garment" is a more specific term that generally refers to a single piece of clothing. It emphasizes the individual item rather than the entire collection of clothing available. For example, a shirt, a pair of jeans, a dress, or a coat can all be referred to as garments. "Garment" often conveys a sense of the physical item and its construction rather than the overall clothing category.

In summary, while both terms refer to clothing, "apparel" tends to be a broader, more inclusive term that can encompass a variety of clothing types and styles within a specific market. "Garment," on the other hand, is a more specific term that emphasizes an individual piece of clothing. The choice of which term to use can depend on the context and the level of specificity you want to convey.

Responses received from LinkedIn contacts

I have thought of a garment as something that’s an arrangement, a set of pieces joined together for a purpose to clothe. Apparel can be anything serving that purpose and beyond. Say a Pancha or saree would be more an apparel than a garment.

We don’t say I have apparel but we do say I have garments as consumers.

Response -3:
Interesting! I like the description of ChatGPT. In my opinion, a garment is a piece of clothing worn by a person. For example, sarees, shirts, pants, etc.
Apparel is any piece of clothing that may be worn in person or a piece of clothing that can be used in equipment. For example, sails, rigging, etc.
The key difference that I can think of is the fact that all garments can be apparel but not all apparel can be garments.

The garment is an integral part of apparel. Apparel consists of garments and accessories which is made up of fabric. For example shirts (garments) and hats gloves and socks (accessories ). So to me, the definition from ChatGPT is partially incorrect.

Definitions and Sources of These Two Terms 

The noun apparel got its start from the Latin apparare, meaning to “prepare, make ready,” or ad-particulare, meaning “to put things together.” In the mid 13th century it evolved into a verb meaning “to equip.” It wasn’t until the next century that people began to use apparel as both a verb meaning “to attire” and as a noun meaning garments or clothing (www.vocabulary.com).

Oxford Languages
Apparel - Clothing sold in shops, 
Apparel - Formal (old fashioned) - clothes, especially those worn on a formal occasion

Example: men's and women's apparel

The 'garment' term is derived from the French word for "equipment," garment is a somewhat generic term you can use when the specific kind of clothing you're describing is not the point. A dress, for example, is a dress, and pants are pants. They are not the same thing unless you refer to them both as garments, in which case they are the same thing. Source: www.vocabulary.com

Your thought

You are welcome to share your thoughts on this question. You can add your thoughts in the following comment box or email me.  

More reading: Apparel manufacturing terms and definitions. (Download the Ebook

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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