What is a Tech Pack?
A Technical Package or Tech Pack as it is most often called, is arguably the most important document provided to a factory during the pre-production process because it explains every detail about the apparel item being produced.
What is a Tech Pack used for?
Your factory will use this document constantly throughout development and production during quotation, to order fabric and trims, to follow making first proto samples, and throughout production. It is also a binding document, or contract, that records all details and changes, and can be referred to if things go wrong.
Why is a tech Pack so important?
When talking to fashion designers, I like to reference the large apparel companies that I have worked for, to show the importance of product development. It is so easy these days to spend all your time and money on marketing, but you need to have the great product to take to the market.
Large apparel brands spend a lot of time and effort on pre-production for their brands. They hire technical designers and spec technicians whose sole responsibility is providing comprehensive tech packs to their factories. They follow the same process for each style in order to communicate well and eliminate issues. They don’t take short cuts!
If professionals go to the time and effort to communicate all details to a factory in a way they understand, it is even more necessary for independent designers to do the same.
The energy that is put into your development work, comes across in your final product. This attention to detail is what makes a range that truly stands out! Don’t take short cuts with developing your product, as having a great collection is the reason you are in business.
I have had designers say to me they want to work directly with an agent, so that they can handle everything. The agents I have worked with still require tech packs and a brand to have some idea of how to manage the development process.
Even if you manage to find a factory or agent that will do these things, you really would be relinquishing all of your control. You have no idea of what problems you are going to end up with. There are a thousand things that can go wrong – you may end up with quality issues such as cheap off-grain fabric, unbalanced pattern, bad and inconsistent fits or terrible construction. These types of mistakes are expensive to rework, and if not caught, may even damage your brand reputation. Know right at the start that turning over control is a risk, and then ask yourself; is it a risk you are willing to take?
What information makes up a Tech Pack?
The Tech Pack is a working document that is developed and added to within all stages of the preproduction process. Not all pages are required upfront – some pages are added as the styling details are confirmed. The document contains all details of the style as well as being a record of any changes.
Tech packs are different for each brand, and the number of pages can vary depending on the complexity of the style, and how familiar your factory is with your brand.
The style summary are the details that are included in the header and are visible on all pages. This information may include:
- Style number
- Brand / Designer
- Pattern number/ Fit
- base size
- size range
Often the document has an area on each page that records the details the document was sent and modified:
- Date released
- Date revised
- Date approved
The pages that are in the tech pack include:
- Front & back views
- Detail Call outs or zoomed in view of details / construction methods
- Fabric and Trims information
- Embellishments & their position
- Colourways information
- Bill of Materials
- Draft specification
- Graded Specification
- Construction details
- Labelling, hangtags information
Pressing and/or Packaging information
- Fit history, sample evaluation comments
Initial Tech Packs for Price Quotes
This information should be sent to your factory to obtain a price quote. As the price quote by the factory usually involve the calculation and fabrics, trim yields and components, it is best to include a spec in the initial tech pack. The initial tech pack should be as accurate as possible, in order to obtain an accurate price and 1st prototype sample.
Usually, it is best to send your tech packs for quotations to 2 or 3 factories. Each factory will have different terms, so it is important to compare. You also may request samples of garments they have made before, which will help you know what kind of garments they usually make and their quality of construction. When comparing each factories price, remember to look at:
- Your own costings and profit margin
- What the price includes, does not include (i.e. fabric, trims, patterns, samples, freight and any importation fees)
- Factories payment terms
- Is the style feasible? Or are there changes that can be made to make it workable?
You will then have the information you need to proceed through to the next step of the development process. You can arrange for patterns and samples to be made, and organise the ordering of bulk fabric, sampling fabric and trims. You will know if you need to do this yourself, or if you are going to allow the factory to do this for you.
A professional tech pack has a combination of fashion industry language, clear illustrations and measurements, in a format that all factories are used to, and understand.
By using a tech pack, all information about a style is clear, accurate, concise and complete, and all-in-the-one-place. Tech packs make communication with your factory easier. The language and format used in a Tech Pack are universally understood by factories. When starting out, more information is better than less – the more details you add, the more the factory can understand what you want. The effort you put into your tech pack upfront, always pays off.
Working with a professional technical designer or product developer will eliminate issues, especially for designers who are just starting out, or are not quite ready to hire a full time technical designer. Product development is the area where it is worth spending money for a professional result in terms of getting a quality, saleable, stand-out collection. Afterall, having a wonderful collection is why you are in business.
However, in you really wish to DIY your fashion line development, and you wish to create your own tech packs, I recommend starting out with a professionally developed template, which gives you much more detail about what to put in a tech pack that what I have here… to ensure you know the way of communicating to your factory in a way they understand, and that all details are provided to them.
By putting in the effort to learn the standard way to communicate to your factory, you are likely to be more efficient, create less errors, and save money and time spent on ironing out issues.
With tech packs, I have two last pieces of advice…
- It is always better to have more detail than not enough detail
- Never presume your factory already understands what you want!
Do you need help with technical product development, with tech packs, patterns & samples, production or quality control? Or perhaps you need help with sourcing, ideas, focussing? Are you needing one-on-one training to help you do-it-yourself? If any of these sound like you, reach out and I can walk you through how we can work together.
Book a free 30 minute discovery call through my Calendly via the below link. Leverage my 15 years fashion industry experience to help you get to the next level.