What fashion designers can do to avoid sample production errors

One of the most common issues faced by fashion designers is oversampling due to technical errors. This is when you end up having to go through the sampling process over and over again because the vision you had in your mind and your sketches are simply not translating into the garment you pictured.

The most painful thing about it all is that sampling is not free. Every time you request a new sample you must pay the cost of production. When you're starting out as a fashion brand every last penny counts, so hopefully with the tips we are about to give you can avoid future mistakes and save a lot of time/money.

Help: I got my first samples back and they're all wrong... What now?

With the way the industry currently goes about the production process, it's very rare to get your first samples right. This may not be the most reassuring thing for a fashion designer with limited resources but panic not. There are many things you can do to translate your vision clearly and reduce the amount of samples required to get to your final product.

Things to evaluate when your samples don't work out the first time:

1. Tech pack

Did you have one? The absence of a tech pack is already 90% of the reason why sampling is likely to fail. Whether you design clothes, shoes or accessories this should be your production bible where you annotate everything to do with your samples and use to reference against. If you do have a tech pack, the good news is that it will be easier to correct the areas which have gone wrong (which means you will know what to focus on when you do your 2nd round of sampling).

2. Sample Review

What exactly went wrong? Was it the fabric, measurements or overall design? Once you have tried on the samples and identified what you are not happy with, refer back to your tech pack to make notes and changes.

3. Pattern

Did you have a skilled garment technologist working on your patterns or did you let the sampling studio DIY from your sketches? Not many designers review the patterns used for sampling. Sometimes even if the tech pack is correct, if the patterns aren't done accurately, the fabric will not be cut how it is supposed to and ultimately the garment will not look how you intended. Always ensure your seamstress or production house are skilled in garment technology.

Fashion Entrepreneur Problems: What I ordered VS what I got

4. Communication

How was the communication between you and the manufacturer throughout the process? Maintaining a consistent and clear line of communication is essential if you want to avoid unwanted delays and common misunderstandings. Sometimes there are language barriers between you and the production house so try to cover these by simplifying any language used, by physically going to the factories or (if abroad) you can spend time on the phone explaining anything that is unclear to them. Asking your manufacturer to send pictures is also a great idea to gauge how the production process is going.

5. Design

If all of the above factors were not an issue for you, could it be that the overall design of the product just doesn't work? As creative as we can be as fashion designers, sometimes the design is the problem. This may be a hard pill to swallow but if that's the case, the best thing to do may be to scrap the design altogether and try something different. Don't be afraid to rip up old ideas and try something new.

The process of sample-making typically involves around four samples for each design— the development sample, fit sample, pre-production sample and shipping sample. With our Sample Manufacturing Programme, we try to spend as much time as possible working on your tech pack and garment technology to try to reduce this process to two samples (the goal is to reduce it to one sample in the future). Overproduction creates unnecessary wastage and we try to be as sustainable as we can.

One great technique which has completely changed the game is 3D design.