Drapers were an important trade guild during the medieval period, when the sellers of cloth operated out of draper's shops. However the original meaning of the term has now largely fallen out of use.
A number of notable people who have at one time or another worked as drapers include:
- Sir Thomas Adams, 1st Baronet
- William Barley
- Norman Birkett
- Margaret Bondfield
- Eleanor Coade (1733–1821), successful businesswoman with Coade stone
- Harry S. Truman, haberdasher before he became a Senator, Vice President and President
- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
- John Spedan Lewis
- Anthony Munday
- Thomas Burberry, Founder of fashion brand "Burberry"
- H. G. Wells
- Edward Whalley, regicide, cousin of Oliver Cromwell
- George Williams, founder of the YMCA
- John Woodward, geologist and physician to King Charles II
- John Graunt, founder of the science of demography
A draper is now defined as a highly skilled role within the fashion industry. The term is used within a fashion design or costume design studio for people tasked with creating garments or patterns by draping fabric over a dress form; draping uses a human form to physically position the cloth into a desired pattern. This is an alternative method to drafting, when the garment is initially worked out from measurements on paper.
A fashion draper may also be known as a "first hand" because they are often the most skilled creator in the workshop and the "first" to work with the cloth for a garment. However a first hand in a costume studio is often an assistant to the draper. They are responsible for cutting the fabric with the patterns and assisting in costume fittings.