Tech Packs for Fashion: beginner's guide

Look up Tech Pack on Google and you'll find enough examples to make you confused, overwhelmed and bored to death.

All the work looks so technical, in those dreaded Excel sheets, you now probably think it'd be more exciting to get an Accounting degree than to start your own clothing line.

But you were brave enough to keep digging and you found me :D

I'll teach you the tricks I use to help other small brands and total beginners.

They're not super technical and you won't have the excuse you need to get a Tech Pack degree before you can get your brand off the ground. You don't.

Or do you think I'd make my own work boring? 

So enough procrastination, let's get started.

1. Cover page

Tell the manufacturer what you want to make.

Be painfully obvious, like this:

Tech pack sample (hoodie) - Cover page

Besides pictures or flat sketches, the Cover page should include:

    • Style name or description;
    • What size you'll be making your sample;
    • Contact information;
    • Deadlines;
    • Your logo and collection name or season, if you want it to look legit;
    • Bulk order quantity;
    • Fabric.

No need to get too technical on fabric, but here's two things

Fabric name/ type: how it looks like, how it's made. For example, satin. 

Fabric composition: what it's made of. For example, 100% silk.

Not every shiny fabric's made of silk, not every suit's made of wool - so when in doubt, go back to Net-a-Porter.com/ MrPorter.com.

Google is a great place to research "What is the best fabric for t-shirts?", but it can get overwhelming with technical linguo, depending on what article you go to.

2. Construction details

This is where you tell the features on your design:

Tech pack sample (hoodie) - construction details

A designer can actually get very technical on this page, but you can stick to show-and-tell.

Get all those reference pictures and use them as building blocks for your own design.

3. Measurements

Or Measurement Guidelines, as I'll usually call them.

This is the least fun part, so you'll want to make this properly and in one go.

The easy, pain-free way: If you have a piece that you love and you want to make something similar, you can send it for the sampling room to copy but it's even more pro if you send a Tech Pack with it - assuming you won't copy it to the last detail and need to instruct them what you want to change.

If you can't send out any pieces, no worries. 

Manufacturers will have basic blocks of the garments they work with. They'll develop your design from those but you need to give them directions.

In both cases, you'll need a tape measure - the softer one, for sewing - and a reference piece.

Tech pack sample (hoodie) - measurements

Now it can be tricky to know which Points of Measurements you need, so ask them before you start.

They'll have something they can share with you if you're nice and articulate.

Don't think this will be complicated: this is the sort of Quality Control check done in apparel factories by the employees with the least specialised training, so you can absolutely do it.

Just don't stretch the fabric - unless you have an incased elastic band somewhere. In this case, measure it both flat and how much it can stretch up to.

3.1. Grading

Oh it gets worse. But only if you want to.

If your manufacturer's already developing your sample, they'll also be able to do the whole size range, a.k.a. Grading.

This is very simple to do in the special software they use to make patterns, and you can ask them to send the measurement chart for all sizes once you're ready to order mass production.

You can check if the length is the same on all sizes then suddenly 8 cm/ 3.15" longer on the XL. 

Do this only if you're getting into this Tech Pack thing. If you get confused, once you're ready to order production, ask them to make production samples in all sizes.

Apparel manufacturers make samples in a separate Sampling Room during the development stage, so they're used to making another round of samples in their larger factories before doing the whole production.

4. What makes your design special

What's so good about your piece? The materials? The prints? 

Are you making any variants = colourways

The more features you add to it, the more pages you should add.

Don't cram too much information on one page = don't make your manufacturer confused!

Include a page for Customisation info. to be specific about:

  • Printing techniques, colour and size;
  • Embroideries (same as for prints = techniques, colour and size);
  • Custom trimmings: badges, engraved buttons, specific zipper pull, drawstring etc;

Tech pack sample (hoodie) - Customisation info

You can also include a page for Materials Map to be specific about variations per colourway: 

  • is it the same print colour for all colourways? 
  • Is the drawstring Tonal = in the same colour as the main fabric?;
  • Thread colour;

Or get super technical with a Bill of Materials - or BOM, sometimes used as a synonym of Tech Pack.

This goes into the field of Production and Supply Chain management, and there are special softwares for them (examples are on the complete ebook, if you're curious).

5. Brand it

If you're not selling piles of clothes in a back alley street market, you'll want to add a finishing touch that says this is your creation: your brand label.

Tech pack sample (hoodie) - label

Whew! You made it to the end!

Now you can make a basic Tech Pack to show the manufacturer you know what you want. 

Even if it's not 100% perfect, they'll be impressed you've done your homework before asking for a quote straight away.

Prefer an ebook instead of this technical avalanche in a single blog post?

Subscribe here to get my Tech Pack starter kit, with a PDF guide + editable Adobe Illustrator template.