One of the questions I get asked by new clients is “Do I REALLY need a techpak?” Well, you could start your development process without one, but I would not recommend it.
Think of a techpak as a blueprint for your garment. Just as you would use a blueprint to build a house- with detailed instructions on where the windows go, what type of windows you’d like, what the front of the home is supposed to look like, etc. You need a similar set of “blueprints” for your garment.
There is some controversy on whether or not you should start with a techpak or if you should just go to pattern based off of pictures or physical samples- I’m a fan of techpaks for the following reasons:
Simple pictures/ sketches don’t show construction details- which can affect the quality and the overall price of your garment.
A great photo or sketch will give a factory an idea of the design, but it won’t answer important details like is the garment lined or does it just have facings? Or does it have none of the above and all seams are exposed?The difference can affect how your end customer will perceive the overall quality in your garment and how much they are willing to pay for it. The difference also affects the price you are going to pay for the garment. Linings require more work for the factory and as such will have a higher price than non-lined garments. If you are developing athletic wear, lingerie, swimwear or some other type of garment that requires special sewing techniques that information can’t be relayed to a factory through a simple picture. The details of the techpak will show what the garment is supposed to look like inside and out and call to attention any special details that need to be considered when developing the garment.
There is no standard sizing (at least in the US).
If you’ve ever wondered why you fit in a size Small in one brand and a Medium in another- it is because there is no standard in sizing. Each brand creates THEIR version of what a size Small, Medium, Large, etc looks like.This is why some brands will fit you really well and others won’t. Showing a factory a picture of a design you would like to have created and simply telling them to “Make it in a Size Medium” may or may not work. The factory will create what THEIR idea of a size medium is. If you are working in a factory in China- this will be drastically different than a factory in the US. A techpak will include the measurements specific to the fit model who needs to be able to fit into the sample size, or spec measurements of the actual garment that you want created. This will make sure that what you receive as your size “Medium” is in line with what you are expecting it to be.
If you change factories- you’ll be starting from scratch.
A techpak documents the process along the way- so if you are still working with a development techpak and you just aren’t satisfied with how things are progressing with your factory- you can switch to another factory (with any patterns or samples that have already been developed) and make a change without having to start from scratch. If you’re already producing and have a production ready techpak– having this techpak and a physical sample of your garment, you can get the factory switched over pretty quickly. If patterns need to be made again they will already have the specs for them. If you own your patterns– the new factory can just get started and already know how to make your garment from the production sample and the construction notes in your techpak.
It ensures EVERYONE working on your project is on the same page.
Having a techpak in place prevents a lot of guesswork and assumptions from the people who are working on your garment. There is a saying, “If you are going to allow the factory to guess, they are going to guess wrong every time”. The techpak makes sure that your patternmaker, samplemaker, the factory floor and anyone else who is working on your line understand what the end goal is. The techpak spells out what the end product is supposed to look like and how it is supposed to be sized.
It adds accountability to your development process.
There is no getting it 100% right the first time. This isn’t just in the apparel industry- this is ANY sort of production work. By having a techpak in place, if something is off, you can hold the right party responsible. In the development phase this means that if your sample isn’t made correctly you can check the pattern against the techpak. If the pattern does not match the techpak then the patternmaker is responsible. If the sample wasn’t sewn correctly by the factory- based on what is in the techpak you can hold the factory responsible. If both the pattern and the sample are made according to spec- then you simply make note of what needs to be changed and then update the techpak, revise the pattern and make a new sample. This is the normal process of production. The industry average is having 5 pre-production samples made before going into production.Without having a techpak in place, it can be hard to determine who is responsible for the missteps in pre-production.
Done correctly, it can reduce the number of physical samples needed prior to production.
Just like with accurately building a house from the ground up- the key in using this tool is to have a really well made techpak. A great techpak will save you time and money in production and a poorly made one can be just as bad as not having one. The key- is in the details.A highly detailed techpak can mean the difference between 3 samples and being production ready or 5 samples and being production ready. In fact, by offering our clients highly detailed techpaks, we’ve been able to achieve an average of only 3 samples before being production ready instead of the industry average of 5. As of this writing, we’re working on some developments to further reduce that number.
Have questions about techpaks? Drop us a line on our Q+A.