What is the difference between 'Apparel' and 'Garment'?

Difference between apparel and garment

I have been using these two terms interchangeably since 2006 after entering into the apparel industry. Though I felt there were some differences between 'apparel' and 'garment' but 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 tried to explain the possible differences but it became more like general points without any references. 

The questions came to his mind when he was working on finding the garment market size. In a discussion, business experts pointed out that the size of the apparel market is bigger than the garment market. This statement is clearly pointing 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 thought of 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 for 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

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

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