Glad you stopped by, because today I am sharing some free knowledge on the apparel design process from concept to shipped product.
I normally reserve this on-boarding guide for new clients who don’t know anything about the industry, but I’ve had a lot of requests for more content like this, SO I bless you with a quick 15-page guide that I hope will give you a peek inside the fashion world and what to expect when diving into a new project.
I’d love to hear from you with questions, so DM us @casualbrandcreative or email email@example.com. Until then, happy reading ❤
Spending money and time developing your new clothing line is a huge deal, and you want to protect your investment. I get it.
But here’s the deal about having contract designers, sewers, and pattern-makers sign a NDA: Most won’t do it. I actually don’t know of any who would.
It’s not because we want to steal or share your ideas with the world – if we did that, we would have a pretty terrible reputation and we wouldn’t get any business and we might as well just shut our doors right now.
You have to understand – there is little in this world that has NOT been done in terms of “fashion”. To be totally blunt, the T-shirt you designed is like thousands of other T-shirts, and no one needs to sign a NDA for that. No one is re-inventing the wheel (or jeans, or A-line dress, etc etc). If you truly have an idea so innovative that it requires legal protection, I would skip the lawyer and just go straight to the big guys and get your idea patented.
That aside, the very simple reason that if Casual Brand Creative will be patterning, sampling, and producing your line is that we have no control over who sees what during this process. We do not work in a bunker where no one is allowed in and out of our facility. Nor do we work with suppliers who work in an isolated camp. If your garment is laying on a table, and someone walks by and sees that garment, we cannot make them unsee it. The good news? Those eyes probably have a one-track mind when they are on site, and that is to check on their own goods. They usually aren’t trying to pull some undercover spy operation to steal others’ ideas.
Like I said – we don’t want to share your intel, but because chances are that we cannot 100% protect whose eyes fall upon your project, we don’t want the responsibility that your NDA requires of us.
If that doesn’t sit well with you, please know that the seasoned people who have been in the business years and years do not require NDA’s, because they know. It’s just not done. This should make you confident to know that successful brands do not practice this.
Disclaimer: If it’s not obvious, I am not a legal expert and you should probably ask a lawyer about your specific project needs, but honestly I just gave you some solid advice.
Once you have finalized the sketches, tech packs, and fabric sourcing portion of your design phase, the next step toward your end goal is to have some samples made of the product you are intending to produce and sell.
Clients tend to have a lot of questions once we get to this point. I see a lot of confusion surrounding sample-making. So, I am hoping I can clear up a little but of the confusion by going over the top 5 questions I am always asked:
Q: Who makes my samples?
A: Not me, personally. Though I wish I was equipped to own every sort of machinery used to make your product into a wearable garment, I do not (and, even if I did have all the awesome machines, I suck at sewing). This is why we here at CBC tap into our curated network of sample-makers to get the job done. We decide which vendor will be best for your project, and have them get to work! Preferably, we will partner with a sample-maker who is also able to run your production. The benefit here is twofold: 1) they will understand the product we are producing right off the bat and 2) we would not need to run costing exercises with multiple partners after the samples are made.
Q: When does sampling take place?
A: Here’s the process: a) The sketch/design/tech packs are approved b) fabric and trim sourcing is complete and sample yardage has been ordered (*Note: trim sourcing can be an ongoing element and is not 100% necessary to be finalized before the sampling stage, though you should have a good idea of the type of trims you want to be used in the end product). (c) Samples are made once sampling materials are received.
Q: What does it cost?
A: There is literally no way to guess at what your samples will cost. If you go to someone and ask for a cost for a design without, at the very least, a tech pack, run the other way. Unless, of course, you are working with a pattern/sample maker directly.
Q: What happens after the first sample is made:
A: Once the first sample is made, we will fit the sample on a body/model that you have chosen to be your fit standard. It is important to note that there are usually about 2-3 rounds of sampling necessary to get to your desired fit and design. Once we have a final fit, we can move to the next stage, which is production!
This just in: in addition to all of my services offered, I am also teacher extraordinaire.
More often than not I work with clients that have no clue about anything in the industry (which is great for me, because it’s always fun to teach new things to people!).
So, this week for FYI Friday I put together a list of “apparel industry words/terms” that anyone thinking of starting a brand should know, in regards to process. Happy Learning!
Tech Pack – I get asked what, exactly, this is a lot. A tech pack is basically a Bible for your manufacturing partner. It will have all the details regarding any given style you are creating, such as: sketch, color, print, fabric information, construction detailing, measurement specifications, sizing/grading information, trim information, stitch info. Every detail about the garment should be outlined in a tech pack.
Bill Of Materials – This will be part of your tech pack. This will outline all of the fabric and trims you are using on your garment.
Sample Maker – A sample maker is just that- a person who makes a 1st, 2nd, 3rd sample of your garment. They may or may not be the same person who will be running your actual production. It depends on their capacity.
Grading – Grading is when you create the size range you want for your garment. From the base sample size (say, size M) a grader (or your tech packer) will determine the adjustments needed for each pattern in order to have different sizes of the same garment. For example, sizes XS-XL.
Pattern – Yes, sometimes I get asked what this is. I am not referring to the pretty floral pattern of your shirt. That shirt didn’t just pop out of no where – it started from a paper (or digital) pattern. In order to know where to cut and how to sew the garment, one must follow a pattern to do so. Like baking star-shaped cookies. You need to use a cookie-cutter (pattern) in order to get the correct shape of the star, yes? Same thing for a shirt (albeit a little more complicated than pressing a shape into dough).
These are a handful of terms I get asked about on a regular basis, so we will start here.
Stay tuned for a deeper dive into the actual process if design & production.