We are often approached by fashion brands who have spent thousands of dollars in patternmaking before going into an expensive garment sample development process. We know how important it is for your brand that you are using the best possible option for your budget & ethos, so we want to avoid taking unnecessary steps before we know if the design idea will work out as you hoped for.
If you have ever outsourced pattern making, you would know this process is hands-on, expensive and time-consuming. It is common to assume that getting patterns made is one of the first steps when getting your garment sample development process started, that is because this used to be true. But times have changed, technology has progressed, and we can now communicate everything needed in order to create a garment sample without committing to an expensive patternmaking process that contributes to wastage.
Don’t get us wrong, we are happy to create garment patterns at any stage if this is requested, but our main focus is helping fashion brands to create sustainable fashion businesses with long-term success. If you can streamline the process, save on cost and of course, wastage we will make sure you know about it! There are many ways to achieve the same result, the difference is how you get there and at what cost.
One of the main factors that cause issues in the garment sample development process is misunderstanding or confusion. This could result in an unnecessary amount of garment sample stages, which means more money is spent. Providing clear and precise design instructions will reduce error, confusion and allow you to be open to opportunities. There is also the BIG plus of not having tangible waste, having this process digital means – no wastage!
This is how you can start the garment sample development without patterns
The most effective way to begin communication with a manufacturer when moving into the sampling process is to use a reference sample and tech pack. The reference sample will be used as a spec measurement guide for creating both tech packs and physical garment samples. The tech pack will be used throughout the entire process from development, bulk production all the way through to quality control for the finished products.
If you were to start the samples process with creating patterns first, you are still going to need to provide design instruction to the pattern maker in order for them to proceed. What we are doing is streamlining this instruction process, by providing the intimation in the most efface way and order and having it all in one place, avoiding wastage and double handling.
What is a reference sample?
A reference sample is a garment that is similar in size and shape to the garment you would like to create. This garment has already been created (so you are not creating more products contributing to waste) and you are going to cut it, pin it, draw on it, tweak it, and basically do whatever you like to it in order to create a shape that resembles what you are after. This is used to guide your tech pack designer on spec measurements, shape and sometimes fabric feel or make/finishing details. Finding a reference sample is part of the research and development phase of the design process, you may already have something at home that you can use, or you may find something inexpensive that works with the shape you are after.
What is a tech pack?
A tech pack is your design blueprint, it is created to be precise, informative and easily understood by manufacturers. This allows you to explore multiple options and ensure you are moving forward with a garment manufacturer that is best suited to your budget and ethos. Tech Packs are costed on complexity (time spent), ranging between $310 per style to $540 per style inclusive of 3 colourways per style.
Because the tech pack is digital, they can be easily amended and re-used. It provides not only the necessary information for your maker, but also gives you a good visual of your styles in multiple colourways before you make your final decision to make it real. A tech pack is not only the complete guide for developing your samples and creating finished garments but is also used for getting price quotations (before you sample) and finally for quality control check (basically proof of what exactly you ordered). So your tech pack is crucial throughout the entire process from start to finish. A professional tech pack should include:
- fabrics / prints / colourways / prints / embellishments
- Maker instructions
- Labelling/ packaging
- Whatever else is needed etc…
When will garment patterns be needed?
Now that we have covered what the alternate option is you are probably thinking, ok well, when are my patterns created then? The answer is: during the sampling process, not before it!
When working with our manufacturing team; we will first create your tech packs, then provide a production quotation, and once you have approved the garment pricing, you can move into sampling. The manufacturer will then create the patterns as part of the sampling process. Patterns will be updated as you move through the sampling process, as well as tech packs, however, the number of updates will be reduced because you have provided clear and precise instructions for the garment.
How much does it cost to create garment patterns?
The cost of garment pattern making as well as size grading is included with the sample when producing with our manufacturing team. A typical price for a fit sample is USD60, and for SMS and Proto samples it’s about x 2 the unit production cost of the garment (Eg: if the production cost for a garment is USD20, then the SMS or Proto sample would be USD40).
To get patterns made separately outside the factory producing the samples, you will generally end up paying an hourly rate starting around AUD 100 per hour up to AUD 250 an hour, plus you will run into a minimum time investment of 2 hours per pattern. By the time you add in any design changes also, you will be paying many times more for each pattern than what complete samples including pattern and grading would cost you when doing the entire process with our manufacturing team.