As a clothing line owner, one thing I am constantly working on is sampling products, materials, prints and all sorts of other things to make sure that the product I am eventually going to be ordering in bulk is correct to the design in which we have constructed. The process of making any one piece could take several attempts to get where we eventually want it to be, so I will walk you through the steps of how we go about sampling and producing an article.
First it always starts with an idea, that we have to put onto paper before anything can get started. For the sake of example let’s say we are making a pretty basic men’s button down shirt. In the design process we have to establish a few things like how the shirt will fit, what colors and material, interior tagging, exterior hang tags or labels, and packaging of the shirt. Once we have finalized a design, we must make a computer generated mock up of the shirt (typically using an assortment of adobe products like illustrator) which is usually called a “tech pack.”
The tech pack is very important for the manufacturer, inside it will be every detail that goes into the item. It will usually consist of several images of the item from different angels showcasing the intended details. To continue on the shirt we are making the tech pack would have a page dedicated to the front, back and side that would have arrows showing coloring of fabric, stitching and buttons, along with a page on the interior tags measurements and mock up, and possibly a separate page for any exterior tagging or packaging. Once this is compete you can send it off to the manufacturer for approval.
After the approval from the manufacturer comes an uneasy waiting period. Depending on where the manufacturer is located, how busy their business is, and how difficult the item is to produce all has an effect on how long your mock up will take to come to life. Typically, the process takes no longer than a month and you are sent the sample for inspection. Receiving the first sample of an item is a great feeling, but at the same time you have to be very critical of the work done. Often times the first sample is made just as the tech pack ordered but may have some slight flaws or differences in the final product. For example if the shirt we ordered was black, the may use another colored fabric, but just be showing you how the item will fit. In that case you send them your feedback and continue the exchange of sampling until the product is 100% correct to your liking.
Once the sampling process is done the product goes into manufacturing and after the allotted turn over time you have a product ready to hit stores and the streets.