What is the best way to create tech packs? What is the industry standard? How do I know if my tech pack is complete?
There are no exact answers to these questions (although you can check out episode 23 of The Successful Fashion Designer live show for my insights).
But questions like what is a tech pack is? What does a tech pack include? Those questions have specific answers – and I’ve addressed them all in detail right here.
Note: This article references terms and abbreviations you may not be familiar with…but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with the Ultimate Guide to Fashion Industry Terminology & Abbreviations. Use it as reference for a complete understanding of what a tech pack is and all the things that go into it.
A tech pack is a blueprint or spec sheet to get your designs made. Think of it like an instruction manual with the exact steps and materials required to manufacture your product.
With a complete tech pack, the factory should be able to make your entire product perfectly without having to ask any questions. The goal is to minimize the number of protos / samples, decrease costs and speed up production time. It also serves as a master document to track production development including comments, revisions and changes made.
If you’re working with a FPP (Full Package Production) factory, they can help you create your tech pack. But if you’re working with a CMT (Cut Make Trim) factory, they’ll expect you to provide one. If you show up empty handed, they’ll see it as a red flag that you’re unprofessional or don’t know what you’re doing. Most of them won’t give you the time of day.
Think of it like the instructions you get from Ikea. Without a step by step guide, how would you know how to assemble a bunch of wood, nails and screws?
Or what if you got a photo of a finished product and were told to make it? How would you know what materials to use? What size pockets should be and where exactly they go on the product? What the inside of the garment looks like?
This is exactly why you need a tech pack.
A cover page is an overview of your design, this page should include high level details about your design with a finished color flat sketch. This includes:
It also includes an area to track any changes or revisions.
Tech sketches are flat black and white sketches with text callouts to specify design details. They should include every detail from stitching and trims to construction techniques and placements and are most commonly drawn in Adobe Illustrator. You may need to show more than one angle (front, back, side, inside) or closeup sketches. The best practice is to create them using layers in Illustrator and then bring them into your Excel tech pack using this screenshot shortcut.
A BOM is the master list of every physical item required to create your finished product and where it goes on the product. This includes everything from fabric and labels to hangers and poly bags.
A graded spec is a chart of POMs (Points of Measure) for your product in all sizes.
TIP: The graded spec is crucial to how your garment will fit and should be created by a technical designer or pattern maker.
The colorway specs show each of the colorways and what color goes where in the garment. Pantone is the most common color reference in the industry, and you can easily load these colors into your AI workspace to mock up colorways.
Shows details for any textile patterns or prints including colors, scale, repeat, placement, etc. I typically spec these in Illustrator and provide the factory with native artwork for development.
Since your tech pack serves as a master document for tracking, these are pages you will enter comments / approvals / rejections about various samples (protos, fit sample, sales sample, photo sample, etc). You may include photos of the sample with callouts to communicate changes or construction issues to the factory.
I know – it’s a lot to wrap your head around. Instead of getting overwhelmed and worrying how everyone else does their tech packs or what the best way is, start by understanding the components and pieces of a tech pack that I outlined above. How you assemble them is ultimately up to you – and once you’ve created a few, you’ll figure out a system that works best.
I promise each one you do will be easier than the last. You’ll get faster, be able to recycle work you’ve already done, and everything will become second nature.
You’ll probably even start having dreams about them. Guarantee it 😉
You got this – and I’m here to help make sure you succeed.