So, you've held your first fit session - great! (If you missed the post on how to hold a fit session + make the most out of it, you can read that here). Now what? You need to effectively communicate your changes to the factory, so they carry out your instructions, perfect the garment and avoid any extra samples having to be sent. This post goes through the steps that you can take in order to achieve this and also things to look out for.
How do I communicate changes?
- Use the columns on your tech pack and fill in the columns relating to the sample. So for example, if this was a pre-production sample (PPS), you would complete the column for 'PPS' (where you enter the measurements of the sample you have received,' +/-' (where you enter the measurement differences between what you asked for and the sample you've received) and the 'PPS amended spec' (where you enter the measurements you would like following the fit session.
- You may also need to send written comments relating to the measurement changes, especially if any of these are quite different, or if they have been made to correct a problem with the current sample.
- If there are issues with the sample, for example the hem is uneven or there are problems with construction, it's often best to include photos of the issue and some accompanying text. If it's an issue to do with shaping, for example you don't like the curve of the neckline, you can draw the actual shape you would like over the photo.
- If there is a problem area, it can be helpful to add extra measuring points. This can often be helpful with complicated style lines or for problems at curved areas such as the armhole or hips.
- For the extra text and/or photos, these could either be added to a new sheet on the tech pack itself, or as a simple word document. Personally, I add a sheet to the tech pack (nothing fancy, I just add a blank sheet, write the sample and date at the top and list my changes), that way, I can easily refer to the comments when the next sample comes in and it keeps everything in one place.
- On the tech pack page, I highlight the measurements the factory should be following for the next sample in yellow and make any measurements to be changed in bold so it's easy to see.
- In the main body of the email when I send the comments I include any major issues in bold, to ensure they are addressed.
- Sometimes, the sample may not measure 'to spec' (as per the measurements you requested), but you may be happy with them anyway. In this case, I make a note of this to say the spec has changed, but the measurement has been approved as per the sample.
I've put a couple of screenshots below to help you understand what I mean in the points above. You can click on the images to increase the size if you're struggling to read the text.
What kind of language should I use?
- This can vary between factories and countries, but as a general rule, if you are working with a factory who's first language isn't English you should be direct and specific, don't leave anything to the imagination. In general, either way, don't write as you would speak, there's no need for lots of extra words. Bullet points work best, so manufacturers can easily see the problems and fix them one by one, rather than having to trawl through a long message in order to find the problems. People are busy and the more extra words there are, the more easily it is for things to get missed.
- Particularly for non-English speaking manufacturers, be blunt if need be. It feels strange to most of us being very to the point and simply asking someone to do things better, but with many overseas factories if you're not explicit in what you want and when you want it, they often consider it to be unimportant and things can get missed. If something hasn't been done that should have been, don't be afraid to write in bold and capitals to make sure it won't get missed again - it can take some getting used to, but in my experience it does lead to better results.
- Don't expect the factory to solve the problems. This is often a point that a lot of new brands struggle with, as they expect the factory to offer all of the solutions. If you have a good factory they can certainly help and make suggestions, but don't forget they are making money from you and may guide you in a direction that is more profitable for them, rather than being best for you. If something is wrong, don't just say fix it. Say what you want to happen. For instance if your fit model is struggling to get something over the hips, but when its on it looks great, don't just say 'garment is hard to get on' say 'zip is 15cm too short, amend in next sample', and add the new zip length to the spec sheet.
Think of the consequences
When writing comments, one of the most important things to consider is 'what is the consequence of this change I am making?' Again, this is one of the things that new and inexperienced brands can find challenging. Often things aren't properly considered and when the next sample comes there's often a situation where one issue has been solved and another has been created. To explain my point more clearly, I've written a few example scenarios below;
- If you have a top or dress with a sleeve and increase the 'cross shoulder' measurement, this could mean the sleeve is then too long. Why? Because causing the shoulder to be wider, means the sleeve will start further down the body and as the sleeve length in this example has been kept the same, it would mean the sleeve appears to be longer, as it sits further down on the arm. To compensate for the wider cross shoulder, you would need to reduce the sleeve length if you want it to sit in the same place as your current sample.
- If you read my previous posts on tech packs and samples you've probably heard me advise to have all fit samples in the correct fabric. If the fabric on the sample is different, or if you decide to change it, you have to think of the implications of that. For example, if the fit sample is in a really stretchy fabric and you take a lot out of the measurements in order to get a fitted look, you may find the item is far too tight if the correct fabric has less stretch in it.
- If you change the armhole drop measurement (the distance from the highest shoulder point to under the arm), you need to remember that some other measurements are based on the position of the arm hole, for instance, bust, waist and hip measurements are often 'x amount' of centimetres/inches below the armhole. If for example you make the armhole 4cm lower, then you need to remember to change the measurements so the 'x centimetres/inches below the armhole' is 4cm less. Otherwise, the bust, waist and hips will be measured too low.
Wow - that was a lot to take in and can be really overwhelming if you're new to this! I hope the examples have made things a bit clearer, but please feel free to comment below, or get in touch here if this is all too much and I'll try and explain it differently for you.
If you don't feel confident in completing comments yourself at this stage, I offer coaching and in person fit session help (in several cities worldwide) and would love to discuss your project further. If this is of interest you can send me a message and I'll get back to you with more information.