Today, let's talk about sampling in the fashion world.
First up: What does sampling even mean? And why do you need samples?
Sampling is a process that you'll engage in when you're testing your idea to see how your sketches and designs translate into tangible garments.
In technical terms, a sample is a physical example of your design made up of raw materials that match your specs and requirements.
You'll likely have to go through several rounds of samples, adjusting your specs and details to reach the final product.
Side Note: When planning out your launch timeline, it is smart to plan for anywhere from 3 to 9 months to sample. The more complicated your garment, the longer the timeline should be. Sampling, fitting, and adjustments often take much more time than you bargained for!
Samples are SO helpful and allow you to see how individual factories produce the garments you have in mind. Sometimes, factories translate your tech packs slightly differently, and you end up with slight alterations. Sometimes these end up being better than you hoped with your original plan. Seeing a variety of factories sampling your garments helps you evaluate quality, speed, and communication skills.
Sampling is an absolutely necessary part of the process, so you can perfect your garment through fit, quality, and overall aesthetic.
Believe it or not, there are actually 9 kinds of samples that you should know about.
Although there's a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming, don't worry! We're going to break it all down, so you have a good grasp on samples :) I promise!
So, let's break down the samples you'll create, to get to the final sample that you'll actually use to create the final product.
A Prototype Sample (Proto) is sometimes just referred to as a 'proto' or 'prototype.' This is your first physical sample that demonstrates your initial design concept. The prototype sample is usually made with similar available raw materials and often comes in funky color combinations. A Prototype sample is interchangeable with development samples.
A Sew By Sample is designed to be shared with the factory to allow them to recreate it exactly as it is. You'll create the Sew By Sample by hand and pass it along. Additionally, at this point, you'll usually pass all the patterns and fabrication information to the factory as well.
The Wear Test Samples, which are usually more than just one sample, are made for the specific intent of understanding whether the samples are ready to be purchased. If not, you'll need to improve your samples further before placing a bulk order.
A Size Set Samples are a complete set of samples that contain all available sizes. This is an essential part of sampling, so you can make sure that everything is fitted well at every single size!
A Pre-Production (PP) Sample, also known as a PP sample, is a sample sent right before the production of your products begins. This is the final look before your garments go into production, and it's often the last point you can make changes.
Top Of Production (TOP) Sample is the first 1 or 2 samples coming off your manufacturing line. These mark what your bulk will look like. They're still classified as samples, but by the time you receive them, it's too late to make changes unless something is very wrong and can be fixed.
Salesman Samples are a set of production-quality samples designed to be used at trade shows to show retailers the upcoming line so they can purchase it.
A Photoshoot Sample is a sample meant for product marketing and content creation purposes.
And finally, once you start running production regularly and are rebuying the same items again and again without changing them, you might get Shipment Samples.