I've got myself a tech pack. Now what?
A quick starter guide on managing the post product development process with your factory.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
AUTHOR: BELINDA JACOBS
TECHPACKS.CO founder Bel (as she is affectionally known as) is a technical fashion designer from London. Belinda has worked with numerous high street retailers, independent designers and fashion start-ups since graduating with a first class honors degree in clothing design & technology.