This right here is the least glamorous process in the fashion business: The production process. It’s also one of the most important parts. There are 12 important steps in production and we’re going to go describe each one of them because I want to make sure that you have a lot of time to manage each of the process in detail as much as possible. Let’s dive into them.
1ST STEP – CREATING TECH PACKS
So you’ve drawn the designs of your entire collection with your design team or graphic artist. You’re not ready to create a “TECH PACK” and get it ready for your manufacturers to see. Make sure each detail is accurate, from the materials to be used, thread types, exact colors to be used, the size of the graphics, the stitching to be used, etc. You get the point here? Every single detail should be there so you don’t need to go back and forth with your manufacturer, wasting time. I’ll have an entire part just for tech packs in the next blogs.
2ND STEP – ORDERING SAMPLE FABRICS & TRIMS
Once you’re able to source fabrics and trim sourcing, order enough yardage for making samples. You’ll use it for fit samples or create samples for sales agents. These sample yardage should be the right pattern, color and quality based on your FINAL design.
3RD STEP – PATTERN DEVELOPING
When developing patterns, it’s important to know that it affects the type of fit that you’re going to create. With that said, you need to make sure that it’s accurate. Pattern making is tricky and time-consuming. You should consider getting a good pattern maker specific to the product. There are specific pattern makers for t-shirts, pants, shots, jackets and hats. They all have different specialities based on experience and the longer their experience, the better they are. I usually work with seasoned veterans when it comes to pattern making.
4TH STEP – CREATING A PROTOTYPE
This is a sample with the exact correct features, including the proportion, silhouette and details like the location of the pocket, button spacing and sizes. Your prototype is made with a substitute fabric that is cheaper but similar to the actual fabric due to 2 things: 1. It’s a waste to use your original fabric as you’re not going to be able to sell a prototype and 2. The sample yardage is usually not yet made at this stage.
5TH STEP – CREATING A FIT SAMPLE
This is where a concluded prototype is usually made with sample yardage. A fit model will wear the garment so you could get the right fit and finalize your pattern. I suggest working with a large size or medium size fit model for this. Don’t go for small or XL size wearing models as it’s going to be difficult to scale it down/up.
6TH STEP – CHOOSING THE FINAL SAMPLE COLLECTION
You’re going to calculate here the estimated cost of each design based on your prototype production. You’ll be removing the styles that are not a clear fit for your collection and styles that are too time-consuming and expensive to make. If you do so, be prepared to lose extra money as it’s going to be a waste.
7TH STEP – START TAKING PRE-ORDERS AND PREPARE PRODUCTION
For retail brands, pre-selling sample garments to various showrooms and trade shows to confirm orders and calculate quantities for production are a common thing. Make sure that all your orders are confirmed before you start your production. Ask for an order form to be filled out and signed for confirmation.
8TH STEP – PATTERN GRADING
Your pattern maker will grade the pattern across all the sizes offered in your collection in this part.
9TH STEP – CREATING A PRE-PRODUCTION SAMPLING GARMENT
The pre-production (PP) sample is made by your manufacturer after an order is placed. It’s worth noting that it is as accurate as it is because it’s the manufacturer’s reference for bulk production.
10TH STEP – BULK PRODUCTION
When all the samples are approved, the manufacturer will begin the bulk production process. Hire a production manager to manage the production yourself to over see the entire process. This is where the quality standards are supposed to be met.
11TH STEP – QUALITY CONTROL CHECKING
Quality control checks at all your stages of the process are important to implement. If some of the procedures done are not meeting your standards, it shouldn’t be approved at all. You should be able to identify and address any quality problems as early as you can to avoid losing any more money and/or time.
12TH STEP – PACKAGING AND SHIPPING
Your buyers have usual specific instruction sets and requests when it comes to packaging and shipping, so it’s important to follow the buyers’ instructions to be able to ship on time. Your buyers might refuse goods and they could issue you chargeback fees, which could be costly for your business to begin with.
Question of the day: Which of these process steps have you not implemented for your business?