I've got myself a tech pack. Now what?


Time to read: 6 minutes

As you know, when in production it is never quite a simple as clicking a button that says 'buy now'. If only! So... you've got a far as getting a complete tech pack made. Now what do you do?


1. Find a Factory

In an ideal world you would choose a factory before you create a tech pack. Yes, that is right, before! That way your technical designer can include only processes that your factory can handle. 

Most production facilities however won't be able to give you an accurate quote without a tech pack! If they will even give you a quote at all. And rightly so, if they don't know the details of your product they can't really predict their costs.  


2. Request a fit sample or prototype

Once you have found a factory that is a match, you need to request a first sample from your tech pack.

A sample is a single garment/product your manufacturer will make so you can preview your  design before production.
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Ideally you will have developed a pattern and made an initial fit sample before creating a tech pack. This way you have pre 'tested' your design and specs already and your sample from the factory shouldn't have any glaring errors.

The first sample will probably not even be in the 'real' fabric. You contractor might choose another fabric that is similar to yours from what they have in stock. 


3. Refine your design and measurements

When you get a sample back from your factory the first thing to do is check that all is as it should be. Compare the garment with the instructions on the tech pack. Inspect the stitching and seams. Measure your sample using the points of measurement in your tech pack. Make sure each measurement matches the number specified in the tech pack, or is within the given tolerance. 

Are  you happy with the fit and cut of your design? Your goal here is to check the factory have understood your construction directions correctly. It is difficult to get this 100% right the first time, even for the pros, so don't stress.

It’s normal for it to take a few of rounds of sampling to get your fit right if you haven’t perfected this already.
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If any changes are needed the factory will have to make you a new sample from scratch. If you decide to make any changes to your design after seeing it IRL, you may have to pay the sampling price again. If the factory has made a mistake it's unlikely they will charge you again. This is where a tech pack can start saving you money as it should minimize the amount of design iterations.


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4. Sales Samples

Once you are satisfied that your product has been developed to its full potential, it’s time to get a salesman sample. This is the sample that will be used to sell your products. You can show it to potential buyers and take it to shows. Get extras made if you have more than one sales person. Simple!

This will be the first sample made in your exact fabric, so your production should have a chance here to properly test all the construction methods on your fabric. 


5. Size Samples

Up till now you have only seen your product in your sample size. Here is where you should be sampling the rest of your size range. You don’t necessarily need to test every size in the range, you could test every other size to get a decent enough idea.

As well as checking the fit of each size, you want to asses if all details and embellishments look right when scaled across your different sizes. At this point you may need to make some changes to your grading if needed. 


6. Pre Production Samples (PPS)

This is your final development sample. You should be seeing the product in it’s entirety with the right, fabric, trims, embellishments, labels and packaging. Just as you would receive at the point of sale. This is your absolute last chance to make any corrections, although nothing major should be needed at this point. Here you will ‘sign off’ on the product and the factory will begin production.

The signed off PPS will be used by the quality assurance department of the factory to make sure your order is being produced correctly. 

Please, please, please; do not even consider going into production without a pre production sample! You and the sewing contractor should both have a final copy of the agreed PPS.  


7. Shipment Samples

This is also known as a ‘top of production” sample or TOP. The QA department at your production facility will take a small sample of the products coming off the first production run. Compare these with your tech packs and approved samples to make sure things are working as planned.