“In fashion, the tech pack is the single most important piece of information you need.“
No Tech Pack = No Plan
If we had a dollar for every designer who came to us armed with nothing more than a photograph of another brand’s product, asking, “How much will this cost?”, well, let’s just say that little private island I’ve been eyeing wouldn’t be unrealistic.
I’m just teasing! People with dreams of making their own way in fashion come from all walks of life. Some have been educating themselves for years and have formal training. Others are just starting now. We love all; serve all (in the words of the Hard Rock Cafe). Not gonna lie though, those emails are really hard to answer sometimes. The reason it’s frustrating is simple: focusing on the “costs” involved in producing something ignores the real challenge: the process. In this age of fast fashion, many would-be fashion designers are so anxious to start selling that they forget to design the product.
If you wanted to build a house, you wouldn’t just pick a spot of land and start building. You need a plan, a good one. It needs to tell the configuration of the rooms, the materials, the fixtures and finishes. You can’t walk up to a contractor and ask, “How much is a house?”. Imagine the look on his face! So, you can imagine that garment manufacturers feel much the same way.
A Tech Pack is the Blueprint for Your Design
I’m not throwing shade at those starting out and don’t know how to do a fashion tech pack (or fashion tech specs, as some people call them). I’m not even saying that someone has to know how to design anything. In fact, as a product developer, we prefer it! What I am saying is this:
Anyone, regardless of their level of experience or their particular expertise, needs to recognize that a detailed plan is an essential part of the process.
Without the plan, there can be no bid, no estimate, no quote. It’s simply way too soon to speculate about finances. The plan comes first.
How to Create a Tech Pack for Your Fashion Line
A fashion tech pack, like a blueprint, is simply a plan. It’s not a sacred text or a manifesto. It doesn’t need to be intimidating. What it needs is to be DETAILED. The details are the secret sauce. The difference between an excellent design and mediocre one, in all fields of design, is in the detailing. Once you have an appropriate level of detail, it’s easy for you to get pricing and figure out all the other stuff, like retail price points. Until you have the technical plan, you can’t have a realistic financial plan either.
There are two ways to get your tech packs put together:
A) The DIY Solution
Doing your own tech packs might be a breeze for you or it might be totally out of your wheelhouse. If you do choose to do them, the most important tool you’ll have to choose is your software. My recommendation is to not rely on too many different tools. It makes the process more daunting and slows you down. Illustrator or Corel would a couple of obvious choices if you already know the software. If not, forget it, it’s not going to be a very efficient option. Some people use a combo of Excel and Illustrator. That works great too, IF you already are proficient in both. For a complete rundown on fashion tech pack software, check out our article here.
Another great option for smaller businesses is Techpacker. It’s a user-friendly tech pack generating online software that takes a lot of the nerdy work out of creating your tech packs. You still have to have some expertise in knowing what you need to include, but Techpacker simplifies the process tremendously. It’s a monthly fee-based service and is great for labels that are creating a lot of fashion tech packs on an ongoing basis.
B) The Professional Solution
We would never discourage someone from producing their own fashion tech packs, but sometimes that’s just not feasible or the best use of a person’s time. In those cases, services like ours at Prototype are perfect. We’re the ones who look at fashion tech packs all day long and we have a pretty solid handle on what’s needed. Depending on the product and budget, we can create simple ones or very detailed. The more detail the merrier, but we’re sensitive our clients’ budgets and we keep our pricing reasonable.
We use a PLM software, called Backbone PLM, for our clients’ tech packs. It’s very thorough and contains everything a manufacturer needs to know about a product. For our larger clients, we highly recommend Backbone, as discussed here.
What are the Required Ingredients?
We could rattle off a list of things here that are “required” in a tech pack. But, I think that would defeat the point of this article. The real truth of the matter is simple:
Exactly WHAT is needed is different for every product. But WHY it’s needed never changes.
Tech packs should include all the necessary specifications, dimensions and details that you’d need to get the item produced correctly. So, the trick to doing a great tech pack is simply to work on the item. Sketch it, create it, photograph it. Come to understand the item from A to Z. Determine the fabrics, the colors, the fabrication techniques, the sizes….all of it. Once you’ve spent enough time learning about a design, then it becomes simple to produce a fashion tech pack.
And if all that seems daunting, well, there’s always Plan B! 😀
Shoot us a message if you need assistance with your tech packs. We’ll meet you where you’re at and we’ll help move your project along. The most important thing is forward motion! Good luck! 👍