The fashion industry is a global industry with a wide variety of terminologies in different languages.
In the same way that a recipe teaches you how to cook a dish and a sheet of music illustrates how to play a tune, tech packs are the blueprint of any garment. With information and specific details on design elements, color codes, materials, and process instructions, these visual guides make it much easier for your vision to come to life.
This universal blueprint acts as a common language for designers, manufacturers, and suppliers to all get on the same page. Let’s explore it further.
What Is a Tech Pack?
A technical pack, or tech pack, is a detailed document that provides every single bit of information needed to turn a design idea into a physical product. They serve as the much-needed building blocks for each garment or accessory. Tech packs are usually standardized but may vary in structure or may include or omit specific components depending on the garment.
These guides will provide explicit instructions about how to manufacture the product, all the way down to the type of thread to use. Having a tech pack available won’t just benefit the manufacturing process – it’ll also help to give an accurate cost estimate for production, reduce the risk of errors, and remove the need for expensive alterations.
Many misconceptions exist about the purpose and application of fashion tech packs. These can cloud people’s understanding of them and deter designers and manufacturers from embracing their advantages. Here are a couple of the most common:
- Only for large brands: Tech packs can be comfortably used and are equally important for fashion businesses of every size. Having them will boost production accuracy and efficiency.
- Overly complex: Although they might seem intimidating at first glance, creating a tech pack is a simple process. No specialized training is required, and many aspects can be self-taught or managed with software tools.
- Only for apparel: Tech packs aren’t just used for garments like blouses and dresses but are also used to create accessories, footwear, and other fashion-related items.
- Just a sketch: Tech packs can be seen merely as a glorified sketch. However, it’s a detailed document that provides all the information and instructions needed to manufacture a product.
- Static documents: Unlike several design documents, tech packs are changeable. They go through a dynamic, non-linear process where revisions and modifications are made to reflect any changes and improvements.
- Only for manufacturers: Some may think that the tech pack is solely for the benefit of the manufacturing team, not realizing it serves designers, product managers, and other stakeholders as well.
- Not necessary for local production: These blueprints aren’t just required for garment manufacturing overseas; they’re beneficial for local and global production to minimize errors and streamline the process.
- Substitute for communication: Tech packs aren’t made to replace personal, direct communication with manufacturers and other team members. In reality, it complements ongoing dialogue by supporting these discussions.
- Only about the product: While product-specific details are what make up most of a tech pack, they can also include timelines, budget constraints, and other logistical aspects of a fashion project.
What Are the Benefits of a Tech Pack?
When people invest time and effort into creating a tech pack, both brands and manufacturers can enjoy many benefits. They go beyond preventing misunderstandings and help to promote consistency, improve communication, and shorten product development timelines.
Benefits for Brands
- Improved communication: Tech packs eliminate any ambiguities and help designers and stakeholders get a more nuanced understanding of the product.
- Product consistency: Having all the details about a product’s design ensures that each unit aligns with quality standards.
- Cost-effectiveness: Knowing exactly what production needs and how timelines look can save on materials, labor, and time.
- Better time management: With a more streamlined production process, brands can enjoy shorter lead times and a quicker time to market.
- Smoother reorders: Detailed tech packs make reordering simpler, which is especially useful for popular styles that go into repeat production.
- Enhanced brand reputation: Well-crafted tech packs often result in more accurate products. That means improved customer satisfaction that turns into a positive brand reputation over time.
Benefits for Manufacturers
- Clear instructions: Detailed production guidelines leave little room for misunderstandings and errors.
- Production efficiency: With a guide to follow, manufacturers can optimize their use of resources and time and make sure they stay productive.
- Reduced alterations: Thanks to the accuracy of tech packs, there is often less need for modifications and alterations.
- Accurate cost estimates: Manufacturers are able to make more accurate cost estimates, which minimizes overcharging.
- Organized workflow: Each process step is clearly outlined, which means manufacturers can plan and organize their workflow more effectively.
- Risk mitigation: Clearly defined quality parameters help manufacturers meet quality expectations, reducing the risk of returns.
What Does a Tech Pack Include?
Every element and notation signifies a specific element of the design and production process. From dimensions and grade rules to expected dates, we’ll go over each element of a tech pack. We’ll also look at how the Rechain PLM software can help you create digital, collaborative tech packs for your products.
The overarching product details section outlines major specifications. These might include the product name, the style number, and even the prospective retail price. Companies often include anything that gives an overview of the product identity. With Rechain’s PLM, you can have all your product information on one dashboard for multiple products.
This section is all about color schemes. It includes specific color codes that are universally recognized, like Pantone codes. With these swatches available, manufacturers can accurately produce the intended colors.
Tech packs offer both flat and dimensional sketches of the design. These act as visual guides to illustrate front and back views of the garment, as well as important details like embellishments and unique cuts. Rechain’s PLM allows you to upload numerous images of a product, including digital drawings and product samples.
Dimensions & Grade Rules
Offering up the exact dimensions helps to outline the measurement specifications for the entire product. This is done for each size the item will be produced in. Grade rules will show how the measurements change between different sizes. Manufacturers can look at these rules and easily make the item smaller or larger.
Bill of Materials
The bill of materials consists of a comprehensive list of every single material that goes into making the product. That includes fabrics, lining material, buttons, threads, and zippers, as well as their quality, quantity, and color. Rechain’s PLM comes with a bill of materials library so that you can reuse existing product information and easily create detailed tech packs.
This section provides a timeline for the full project, including expected dates for sample production, final manufacturing, quality checks, and delivery.
Sample Feedback and Comments
Tech packs keep a full record of comments, revisions, and changes made on samples. Rechain’s PLM has a sample reviews feature where collaborators can annotate designs with comments and share them with suppliers and manufacturers.
There’s even a development tracker, so you’ll always know where your products are in the development process. With status tracking, target dates, and a full development history, the entire process is streamlined.
How to Create a Tech Pack
Creating a tech pack is a useful, systematic process that, when learned, will bring together your design in a structured and easy-to-understand manner. Practice makes perfect, and over time, you’ll be able to make tech packs an integral part of your manufacturing process.
Before jumping into the creation process, you’ll want to do some planning and research. This might include studying market trends, finding inspiration, and doing research into your target audience. You might want to look at the different colors, fabrics, and styles at your disposal. You’ll also want to consider the size range you want to cater to and any guidelines relating to quality, cost, and sustainability.
Choosing the Right Software/Tools
To assist you with creating your tech pack, there are a multitude of tools and software available online. Thanks to the digital age, we no longer need to rummage through physical paper and deal with filing processes. For example, programs like Adobe Illustrator act as a fundamental tool for many designers. Designers can create professional sketches and layout designs, but it may require a learning curve if they are inexperienced.
Meanwhile, there are also tools to help actually create tech packs like Techpacker. With ready-to-use templates and sharing capabilities, it’s a user-friendly pick to get your feet wet.
Rechain is your top pick if you’re looking to manage the entire product lifecycle. It has a built-in tech pack creator that makes collaboration that much easier for larger brands or teams. This cloud-based platform lets you innovate your development process, from creating complete tech packs to exporting line sheets.
Once the research part is all done and you’re ready to go with the right software, it’s time to go from creative ideation to making a guide. Sketches need to transform into detailed designs, product color codes need to be outlined for every part of the design, and a complete bill of materials needs to be compiled.
Collaboration and Feedback
Creating fashion tech packs isn’t a solo process – it involves several stakeholders and an iterative process. The key here is to involve everyone as early as possible so they can provide input right away and give regular feedback. It can be helpful to use software or platforms that allow for collaboration to keep everyone in the loop. As stated above, maintaining clear records of any updates or revisions will make sure everyone is informed.
Finalizing and Approval Process
Before things are ready to go, you’ll need a robust approval process to make sure the document is error-free and aligns with the project objectives. Start by reviewing the tech pack for accuracy and then assign collaborators to do their final reviews. Once everyone is happy with the pack, it can then be sent off to manufacturers.
Distribution and Storage
With this final approval, your tech pack should also be safe and secure for future reference. All relevant parties involved in the project should have a finalized tech pack. You might choose to share downloadable links, email PDFs, or choose a platform like Rechain for direct sharing. Having a record of all finalized tech packs can serve as a useful reference for new projects, reorders, or archives to show how your work has evolved.
Bonus: How to Version Tech Packs to Keep Track of Changes
Tech packs are ever-changing, just like the nature of the fashion industry. They evolve based on the feedback and changes of multiple parties, which is why versioning is so important to the process. You always want to keep the communication and accuracy going, no matter where the project is in the timeline.
A design usually goes through iterative improvements based on changes in strategy, feedback, and even new trends. Versioning your tech pack labels will keep the document accurate and up-to-date so everyone can track the development and evolution of the design.
A good way to do this is through a clear numbering system for each update. You might simply tack on V1, V2, and V3 for each major revision or even a more granular decimal system like V1.1 or V1.2 for each revision within each stage of the project.
While these simple systems will keep things organized, you also want to ensure a change log is offered with each version. This is a summary log of all the iterations made, the reasons behind making them, and who was responsible. That way, there are no miscommunications or questions about when, where, and who.
Along the same vein, you’ll always only want the right people to be able to access and edit your tech packs. Make sure key decision-makers like lead designs and product managers have full access, while other project members have limited access.
And as updates go along, don’t discard old tech pack versions. Although they might not be the newest version in the project, they still serve use purposes. You might need to revisit them to understand why a change was made or maybe reorder the design in the future.
Bill of Materials (BOM): A comprehensive list of materials, components, and quantities needed to manufacture the product.
Colorways: The different color variations in which a product will be produced.
Dimension & Grade Rules: The sizing and measurement specifications for different sizes of the product, along with grading rules to adjust each size proportionately.
Expected Dates: Projected timelines for various stages of the production process.
Flat Sketch: A two-dimensional sketch of a garment displaying all design details, usually drawn to scale.
Notches: Marks on patterns that indicate where pieces should align during the assembly process.
Pattern Cards: Information cards that detail each pattern piece required for a garment’s construction.
Prototype: An initial sample of the product used for testing and review before mass production.
Sample Feedback and Comments: Notes and observations made on the prototype or initial production sample, used for making final adjustments before mass production.
Seam Allowance: Extra fabric allowance along the seam lines to accommodate for sewing.
Spec Sheet: Short for 'Specification Sheet,' it provides all the necessary details required for production, often part of a tech pack.
Stitch Types: Different kinds of stitches used in sewing the garment, each with a specific purpose and appearance.
Tech Pack Software: Specialized software used to create, manage, and share tech packs. Textile Specifications: Information on the type, weight, and properties of fabrics used in the product.
Trim: The extra components like buttons, zippers, or labels that are not part of the main fabric but are used in the final product.
Versioning: The process of updating and storing multiple versions of the tech pack to keep track of changes over time.
Yield: The amount of fabric or material required to produce one unit of the garment, usually measured in square meters or yards.