Last week, I wrote a post on tech packs - why you need them and what they include (you can read that here if you missed it). I mentioned that the tech pack is a working document that needs to be edited and updated over time. This can be quite daunting for people new to the industry, especially those who think they can hire someone to make a tech pack and that's it, there's nothing more to be done. This post goes through the information in the tech pack in it's earliest form, what it means and how it can affect you.
For this post I've used a basic examples of spec sheets I've created. Of course, different garment technologists will have a different approach, but this is the basic template that I use for spec sheets I create for my freelance clients. Even if the formatting is different in other tech packs, the overall content and the key things to look out for will remain the same. You'll notice that in each box I've written some suggestions. I tailor this for each of my clients to give them a guide, so please be aware that the information on this spec sheet may not be relevant to your situation. I'll go into more detail on this in a moment.
In the screenshots, everything in blue will need to be updated at some point - this may sound a bit much given that most of the form is blue, but stay with me and you'll easily be able to complete it.
- Colour, pretty obvious but do be sure to update it if the colour changes
- Fabrics, these may start off as fabric ideas and the fabric will be confirmed at a later date (more on that in this post). When the fabric is finalised, be sure to add the composition and weight, plus any codes or reference numbers
- Delivery date - be clear what you mean here - delivery date to you, the port, the airline? Be specific about where the stock should be delivered and when
- Trim and label information - when the fabric is confirmed a care label can be created. You'll need to specify where you want this and any other brand/size labels. You'll also need to specify which labels to use and who will be providing them
- Samples required - the more samples you can get the better, but of course the factory will only agree to so many. I like to have a good sample of sizes so I can check the fit across the size break, but this isn't always possible depending on what you've agreed with the factory. After you've discussed how many samples you can have, you can enter your size requirements here. The size you ask for will depend on your brands customers, your fit model and your advertising model, if you have one.
- Lead time - how quickly you expect the factory to send the next fit sample, after they've received your spec sheet (in the first instance) or fit comments. The length of time will previously have been agreed with the supplier in your contract or service agreement, but it's good to put it here as well so the person working on the development is aware and there's no excuses for it being late.
- Packing information - these requirements will often be set by your distribution centre, or you if you will be the one sending out orders to customers or stores. For example, some companies are not set up to receive hanging stock, everything has to be flat packed. Some will even specify the maximum size of the package.
- Fabric testing - if you wish to carry out any performance tests on the fabric, you can note these down here.
- Packaging information for the cartons - this information will come from your freight forwarder (or courier service for small scale businesses) and your distribution centre. Different companies will have different information that needs to be on the box, you only have to fill in the information required and the factory will enter the rest, for example, how many items are in the box, the weight, etc.
- REF refers to the letters on the diagram
- Measurements shows the point of measure. You may amend this as you go through the fit process, if you add or remove elements.
- Original measurements will be for your chosen fit sample size and the first fit sample will be made to these specifications.
- 1st fit, 2nd fit, PP, etc - in this column you write the measurements of the garment that you receive from the factory
- +/- in this column you write the difference in the measurements between what you've asked for and what the sample actually measures
- 1st amended spec/2nd amended spec - after fitting the item, you will use this column to request changes to the next sample. There can be a lot of changes throughout the fit process, so this is really important. It's impossible to get a great fit the first time, because it's hard to predict how the fabric and components will react (especially as the spec is usually done before the fabric is confirmed). Things like the weight of the fabric and amount of stretch can make the fit dramatically different, so make sure each sample is sent to you in the correct fabric.
- Final spec - when you're happy with the way the garment looks, enter the measurements of that garment in here. The factory will use this to make bulk.
- Shipping sample - the factory will send this for your final approval before shipping the stock
- Grade rules - these will alter depending on your customer and market. Grade rules dictate the difference between each size. If you're able to get extra samples made up by the factory so you can check that the style works in each size, that is preferable. If not, try to look at your market research and see any patterns in your customers measurements, particularly those who wear the same dress size. You could also ask the factory for information on products they've done for other customers in the same market.
- Tolerance - this is the maximum amount of difference that you are willing to accept between what you have asked for and what you receive. For example, if the measurement should be 40cm and the tolerance is 1cm, you may receive a garment that is 39cm or 41cm. This can alter the cost price a lot and generally the numbers here will be smaller for high end ranges and higher for budget garments. Tolerance is often something that is discussed at the contract stage with the factory as it's good to outline your expectations from the start.
- Construction comments - these may need to change depending on the factories capabilities and the equipment they have. They might also have to change if the cost price is coming out too expensive and you need to use cheaper methods. Often components such as zips and buttons will be included here and will need sourcing, when the component is confirmed the specifics will have to be noted here.
Not everyone will require page 3 as this is for any placement prints or embellishments, if the print or beading is on the fabric, this will fall under page 1. Page 3 has the specifics of the technique needed and the measurements of the placement. The information on this page is quite straightforward and will just need to be updated if the print size changes and the print method will need to be added here when confirmed.
Sometimes there will be a need for additional pages, depending on the design and also the requirements of the company. Some may ask for an inspection of bulk, so a page will be created for the factory to write down their findings. Some people prefer to add an extra page for fit comments and space for photos. There can be variances but these are the key details to look out for.
I hope you've found this post useful. If you have and would like more help, you can keep up to date with new blog posts by signing up for the mailing list below. By doing so you'll also get access to the FREE resource library, which now includes a free 9 page PDF with definitions for 75+ fashion industry words and abbreviations. In the next 'Industry how to' post, I'll be covering holding a fit session and what to look out for.