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What is a tech pack ?

A garment tech pack is a specification sheet that provides the blueprint for your garment design. It is a crucial tool  used in garment product development, providing information for the factory to make your style exactly as you designed  it to be. It also ensures that there is a clear and precise record of how your garment should be made.

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It can be both expensive and time consuming  to produce a comprehensive  tech pack.  For startup companies producing  small quantities, this extra expense can make it prohibitively expensive. It is therefore  really important to understand tech packs.

The process of bringing a design to market is actually  a very simple one. But given the notoriously erratic nature of the clothing industry, both within the U.K. and abroad, the outcome will likely be a complete disaster without some elementary advice and assistance. Your tech pack is the first line of defence  to protect you against a bad outcome. You can create this tech pack either manually, or via Adobe Illustrator on a PC.

Do I really need a tech pack ?

Many factories and sampling units will insist on you providing  a tech pack . This is not a problem  for  the larger, established manufacturers because they can afford to follow the correct procedures. But for small startup brands it can prove  to be very expensive and time consuming, especially if they do not fully understand  what a tech pack is and when it is really needed.

While most fashion business consultants  advise on using tech packs for sampling, I suggest using them wisely and selectively.

Unless the designer fully understands what they are doing.  I believe that tech packs  can be a waste of money  that  positively inhibits the sampling process. This is because, unless you  know exactly what you want you are preventing the sample makers from using their own judgement. When you provide a tech pack you are providing complete instructions on making something that you may not understand. Even if you employ a professional, you are still restricting the sample maker. The sample maker may be happy because they simply need to follow the instructions  to cover themselves. If your sampling unit insists on a tech pack I would suggest going elsewhere.

In my opinion there is a lot of misinformation about tech packs, given by very experienced fashion professionals.  Throughout the internet and even in popular books on starting a fashion business, these professionals tend to think that everyone starting a fashion brand has plenty of money  available to  do things as the big brands would do them.  But the average startup fashion company is working on a severely limited budget. This means that they cannot operate in the same way that  the big brands do.  I am not saying that they should not use tech packs – Just that they should use them wisely.

Most big brands these days will  not develop their samples in the U.K. They may still have their design studio in London, but the factory may be in Turkey or China.  They  would usually get the factory to do the sample development while they provide the instructions. In this case it would be absolutely necessary to supply a tech pack from the start. But the tech pack is not a static document. It will change as the design and fit changes. Each change would require a revised tech pack.  The big brands  may make three or four samples of each style before production. This would mean four or five tech packs, as there would need to be a final tech pack for production as well.

It goes without saying that most startups cannot afford to have this many samples, along with  patterns and tech packs. So a method has to be found to reduce costs dramatically without increasing  risks. Unlike many sampling units we do not require tech packs. In fact  we positively discourage them. Once we have made the final sample to your satisfaction, we can then produce a definitive professional tech pack for you to provide to the factory.

I often have clients come to me with their tech packs in hand asking me to provide a sample accordingly. Normally these tech packs have been designed by fairly inexperienced designers. The information is normally incorrect and very restricting, so I usually suggest ignoring the tech pack and starting from scratch. I just get the client to provide me with the type of information I need to ensure as far as possible that the resulting garment is correct.

How much does a tech pack cost ?

There is no fixed price for a tech pack. It depends who is making it and how much information is required. If a size spec is required, this would add to the cost as it can be quite time consuming to formulate one. Childrenswear can cost more as there are so many more sizes.

The price of a tech pack can vary from around £80 up to around £400.  It is important to make sure that whoever makes the tech pack is sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced  to do the job properly. While I have illustrated that you can save a lot of money by not  using a tech pack for the sample, you definitely dont want to skimp  unnecessarily in this area.

What information is in a tech pack ?


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Size Spec

A size spec  is an important part of any tech pack, although not all tech packs will have a size spec. It is a list of measurements of your design taken at various points on the garment . These are used to check the accuracy of the production. Normally the measurements are initially taken from the factory sample for the base size, then calculated for the other sizes.  The measurements may be taken either on the half, or as full circumference measures. This is very useful for the designer because it keeps the manufacturer on their toes. If the production garments dont come up to spec they can be rejected by the customer, or be returned for alteration.

While it is possible to use  the grading charts with measurements taken from the pattern, rather than the garment specs, the measurements may not be exactly the same. Although you may expect both the pattern and the sample to measure the same, this is not always the case. The sample may stretch or shrink in making, the seams may be slightly bigger or smaller, and the thickness of the material may result in the garment measuring smaller.

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Technical Sketches

This is probably the most important part of any tech pack as it  is an overview of the style, containing the front and back views of the style, along with important information re construction, stitching, trims, placements  etc.

A picture says a thousand words as they say. It is important for the technical sketch to be clear, accurate and succinct. If there are any special details that need to be explained in more detail it may be necessary to have sketches of those details along with further information on a seperate page.

The Tech-pack workshop would be conducted by Emile. As a designer and a sample maker with many years  experience in the fashion industry, Emile has an in-depth knowledge of what is required by the factories  in a tech pack. The work-shop is two hours long and can be combined with other workshops if required.

We have dealt with many fashion entrepreneurs whos first experience  in the fashion industry has been a complete disaster, due to very basic and  avoidable errors. Often these errors are just due to poor communication with the pattern cutter or with the factory. Sometimes it is due to the assumption that the people they are dealing with have a basic level of competence. Sometimes it is due to the factory taking advantage of the client`s lack of experience.

These days many factories insist on a tech pack. And even if they didnt, it is in your interests that you should provide one, whether required or not. Maybe your pattern cutter could do this for you, or a garment tech. Or you could produce this yourself in our one to one workshop.  Not only would you have a professional tech pack made alongside a fashion professional, but you will also have acquired the knowledge to allow you to produce further tech packs for future designs.

While I dont believe that a tech pack is normally necessary for the sampling, It is  definitely in your interests to have one for the factory. They cannot read your mind, so need to have everything documented.  They need to know exactly how you would like your product to be. Dont leave anything to chance, especially if the factory is located abroad, where you will not be able to keep an eye on production. You would need to pay for this production before they ship it to you  Information would include all the necessary components for your product. A typical tech pack would include a size chart, detailed sketches, fabrics, trimmings, labels, tags, stitching, seams, etc.


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Helping fashion startups since 1984