The words product development sound intimidating for a lot of professionals in and around the clothing industry. One can always assume a lengthy process along with confusing sub-processes with all the time and money spent on it. That does not sound so fun, right? However, a product development process is only deemed as a hassle when there is no system in place. Without the right system and methods for the process, expect a lot of back and forth and missteps along the way. In this article, we describe the right way to approach product development with apparel and clothing.
Apparel product development actually involves the entire manufacturing process for all products. From design conception, modification, tech pack creation, sampling etc. One has to go through the entire product development phase before the product can hit the shelves for marketing. The concept is fairly broad which makes sense to break down all of the sub-processes involved within it to make it easier to grasp and understand. Let me try to break down apparel product development and explain each phase as we go along.
Systematic and Efficient Apparel Product
The product development process opens up with the design conception phase. All products starts as an idea and the design team goes through several stages to come up with all the details and documents needed to manufacture the product. Risks and uncertainties are put into consideration considering this is a new product which is yet to be developed. Once the design is conceived, the next step is to illustrate the product as 2D flats complete with front and rear views.
The next step is to prepare the BOM (Bill of Materials) which is a master list of all the materials needed to create the apparel or garment. The BOM includes details such as supplier, prices, variety etc. to give the clothing manufacturer a concrete idea of supplies and materials to gather or purchase. In case the manufacturer picked a different variety simply because it wasn’t clearly described in the BOM, the entire product can be altered differently resulting to a setback. The BOM is a critical document to create in the product development process.
The cut sheet is another vital part of the tech pack which consists of all the measurements and dimensions of the apparel product. The team must also focus on creating the cut sheets to make sure the product gets manufactured at the right size and fit. A separate document which is the Grade Spec is also prepared. This document contains all of the respective measurements and dimensions of the product in each of its different sizes such as small, medium or large.
The last part of the tech pack explains the step by step construction of the apparel product. Information such as cuts, stitches and patterns are all given out for the manufacturers to follow. Additional accessories such as trims and add-ons are also given and sketched out to show the manufacturer its right location, size, color and placement. The tech pack stays on top of the manufacturing process and the factory will simply follow suit to what the tech pack instructs.
All of the details and documents gathered for product development are all saved in a single pre-production file known as the tech pack. All of the progress taken by the team during the product development process are all recorded within the tech pack including changes and revisions. Basically, tech pack creation and update covers all of the product development stage until the product is ready for manufacturing.
Once the tech pack is complete, you are now ready for initial sampling. The tech pack will be given to the manufacturer to produce the first sample. It is rare for the first sample to be perfect right away, expect some changes and modifications based on client and manufacturer comments on the sample. All of these changes and modifications will be updated on the tech pack for reference. You have to undergo resampling until the desired apparel product is achieved. By then, you are now geared for mass production.
Apparel product development work as long as your wholesale clothing supplier is able to establish a systematic and efficient product development process. The same process applies for all of your products and does not have to be changed depending on apparel type since the nature of manufacturing follows the same format anyway. The apparel product development process is arguably the traditional work flow in all of manufacturing but you can choose to personalize the process in case you find something better for your apparel company.