Think of a tech pack as a blueprint for building a garment. With detailed sketches, measurements, colours, sizing, and materials a tech pack guides the manufacturer through the process to make the product correctly. It is the basis of communication between the designer or brand and the manufacturer. Often design students aren’t taught about tech packs, they end up learning about them on the job. At bigger brands, sometimes the designers don’t deal with tech packs directly, they are taken care of by the development department. At Apparelmark, our designers are also developers, having a hand in tech packs from concept to final delivery. Because of this, we have spent a lot of time thinking about tech packs and how to make them work best for us and our client’s brands.
Why a tech pack is important:
A tech pack is important because it is the way you communicate how the garment is to be made to those who are producing it for you. A high-quality tech pack minimizes the risk of errors for both the designer and the manufacturer.
A good tech pack will help you get an accurate price quote and helps track both design changes through comments and revisions. It also helps you hold the manufacturer accountable and clarify mistakes. If there is a mistake or substitution by the manufacturer you can always reference the tech pack to help straighten out any issues. It will also be used as the quality control standard in production.
Clarissa, Apparelmark’s Technical Design Expert, has learned to think of the tech pack from the first phase of design. She puts herself in the factory’s place and tries to anticipate questions they may have. This way you can minimize the back and forth which can end eat up a lot of time. Because in her experience “they will make assumptions, and they won’t ask questions, they just assume something, send it back and it’s completely wrong.” Mistakes add to both the timeline and costs of a project, so we always try to minimize them as much as we can.
What is included in a tech pack is generally standard across the industry and includes:
- Technical sketches.
These are also called fashion flats, they need to show every design detail and every angle, including inside views and proper labelling.
- Measurement specification sheet.
These are also known as measurement specs. There is no international standard for garment measurements so you need to clarify which system you are using. Commonly used measurement standards are in USA, Europe, and UK.
- Construction details.
Every detail of the garment needs to be included as diagrams with labels. This would be elements like cuffs, fastenings, plackets, artwork placement, and pleats.
- Bill of Materials (BOM).
This lists all of the items of the garment, and their specific location and quantity. This means fabric, buttons, labels, tags, packaging, threads, zippers, lining, elastics and more.
- Stitches and Seams.
There is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) numbers for stitching. These numbers classify, designate, describe, and illustrate the various kinds of stitch types used in machine-sewn seams. Information such as stitches per inch, the width of seams, the stretch of the seams, and seam allowances also need to be included.
- Identification on every page.
Every page needs to have the company name, size of the sample last date updated, any changes, requests, and which version it is.
- Garment cost sheet.
This tech pack is made to calculate the cost per garment price. Pricing is typically provided in “FOB” which includes material costs, manufacturing costs, and labour costs.
How Apparelmark Does Tech Packs
One of the most essential things Apparelmark has done is to pay attention to and refine, how we do tech packs. By fine-tuning this process, we have been able to reduce the number of samples we need to produce and this helps us bring the product to market faster.
There are various computer programs available specifically designed to make tech packs, but we still prefer the flexibility and compatibility of Illustrator and Excel. Cara, head designer and founder of Apparelmark, likes how tech packs give control to the brand or team, and not the factory. She says “every single thing is tracked in the tech pack, so when you get a sample, the changes you’d like to make, you put those changes back into the tech pack and send it back to the factory. So your documentation is evolving and that’s your standard. It’s not just telling the factory over an email, please make this change, and then the email is lost. We have everything in a trackable format in our files so we can look back at proto one, proto two, proto three, four etc. Sometimes the customer, at proto four, wants to make a change that will then look like proto one. And so instead of making that change I’ll just show them proto one and tell them actually you were here to start with, you didn’t like it, remember? So, it’s nice to have!”
We deal with a lot of different factories but all of them are looking at the sketch more than any written instructions. Clarissa explains “they’ll place a pocket where you put it on the sketch. Then you have your construction page and you spell out how each and every part is sewn together (the more detail the better). We speak the language of international sewing so a straight stitch is 301, a chain stitch is 401, and so on. When you speak that language, you have a more accurate result.”
Tips for a good tech pack:
- The more accurate the tech pack, the more accurate your sample. When we get a good sample it’s because we are extremely clear about every tiny detail.
- The drawings are more important than the writing, it must be completely accurate down to the stitch and down to the look and proportions.
- The factories don’t ask questions. They usually just fill in the blanks in the easiest way for them. So the more blanks you leave, the more room for error. (*Please don’t blame the factory for errors, it’s 99.9% of the time, due to lack of information or instructions provided)
- The hardest products to create a tech pack for are where you need inside views, pocket views, hood views, and things that come apart and go back together. You need different views to explain how the whole garment functions and operates in 3D.
- Learn Measurement Specs and how to track measurements from sample to sample to perfect the fit the maintain it through bulk production.
Apparelmark is a full-service technical design & development firm servicing apparel brands around the globe. Tech packs are just a small part of what we do!
Our custom-designed process takes care of full project consulting, production management, and contract work or retainers; all within a fixed-price service offering package.