Tech Packs – What Emerging Designers Need to Know

MakersValley Blog | Tech Packs – What Emerging Designers Need to Know
Anna Spaugh

Anna Spaugh

There are many things that emerging designers need to know and do to get their fashion labels realized. When you have a design ready for manufacturers to sample, you are going to need to create a tech pack for your design. (If you are struggling to find a manufacturer to work with, read How to Find Amazing Garment Manufacturers.) If you’re not sure what goes into a tech pack, or if this is your first time hearing the term, don’t panic. Keep reading to learn about what goes into a tech pack, specifically for your clothing designs.

What Is a Tech Pack? Can I Skip It?

Sketches from a clothing design tech packA tech pack is a document that has all the information for clothes needed by manufacturers to bring a design to life. Its full name is Technical Packet and it is referred to by some as an apparel design’s Specification Sheets. The reason that tech packs exist is that manufacturers cannot read your mind and know exactly all the details you want in your design. It leaves too much room for error when manufacturers have to try to figure out what it is you want in your design without clear instructions, which then leads to frustration on your part when you receive a sample that you paid for, but that doesn’t match the design you’d imagined. Without accurate design, fabric, and pattern information you can end up having to have multiple design samples paid for and created. That’s why it's important that you not skip creating a tech pack. It will help your design get produced faster, plus get you a more accurate cost estimate from your manufacturer, for your design.

Side Note: Some manufactures offer aspiring fashion designers catalogs of apparel design options to pick from, that the manufacturer already knows how to make. This lets you use one of their product designs, add your label to it, and skip the tech pack build process. That way, you can still create your own private label apparel, without having to default to wholesale or create a tech pack.

What Do I Include in a Tech Pack?

fabrics and fashion sketchesNow that you know the purpose and role of the tech pack, does this mean that you have to know how to sew and construct a pattern to put a tech pack together?

No.

If you have these skills and knowledge, it is definitely helpful, but not required.

Here’s a list of things you should include in your tech pack:

  • Materials – What fabric do you want your design to be made out of? Do you want more than one type of fabric? Is the garment lined? Let’s say you have designed a denim jacket, but you want the pockets, collar, and cuffs to be made out of leather. You will need to specify which parts of the garment you want in leather and which in denim. Otherwise, the manufacturer is not going to know to change up the fabric difference based on your design.
  • Color Number – If you have designed a red blouse, you cannot simply say that you want it to be red. There are innumerable variations of the color red, or any color, so you will need to specify the color number using a commonly understood color system like Pantone.
  • Trims – Does your garment have any lace, ribbons, buttons, zippers, beads, chains, sequins, crystals, embroidery, tassel, fringe, and/or grommets? These are only a few of the possibilities for trims; you will need to not only specify which trims you want in your design, but the location on the garment, size, amount, and color. Heads up on zippers and metals, if you want an invisible zipper for your dress, you will need to say that you want an invisible zipper. If you want silver chains, you will need to clarify if you want silver, or silver plated.
  • Size/Measurements – You will need to choose which sizing chart your garment will adhere to: US, UK, etc. If your design is for a market with a certain type of measurement, for example, a men’s dress shirt with longer sleeves than the average length, you will need to note those measurements in your tech pack. These are important to include in your tech pack, because it determines how much fabric is going to be needed to create your design.
  • Labels – You will need to mark where you want your brand label and care label placed in your garment.

These are all important things that go into a tech pack. Even if something seems obvious, include it anyway. It’s better to have detailed explanations for everything than for manufacturers to guess and hope they’re right. It might help you to look over your design and try explaining to someone how you want it made, and see what questions they ask you. For more information on tech packs, check out How to Create a Factory Ready Tech Pack Using New Technologies.

Include Lots of Photos in Your Tech Pack

Pictures are very helpful for manufacturers when looking at your design, especially if sewing and pattern making are not your expertise. Sketch different angles to show off the whole garment. Front, left side, right side, inside, and back. You also want to include a photo of your design with no color and/or print. This helps manufacturers see all of the details, such as darts, gathers, and hemlines to make the pattern.

Always show close ups of details you want. If you want embroidery on the hemline of your skirt, sketch a close up of the hemline. If your garment design is very elaborate, you can also find an image of the detail you want. If for example, your design has a cluster of beads and sequins mixed together, you can find an image that shows how dense or sparse you want that cluster to be. Photos are also a big help if you are a little unsure of the correct fashion terminology for certain things. Make sure that the photos and sketches you add have good image resolution, otherwise it can still be confusing to manufacturers and your sample will not be what you want.

Investing Time in Your Tech Pack Will Bring Your Design to Life Faster

fashion designer working on a tech packYou will need to spend some time creating your tech pack, but don’t be intimidated. You are simply breaking down your design into sections with the details of what you want. It will be worth the effort you put in when you receive your first sample and it’s exactly how you pictured it. When making your tech pack, it’s important to keep in mind that manufacturers don’t know your vision of your design, so always keep their perspective top of mind when putting it together. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

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