No one wants to read a thirty page technical package. I certainly don’t want to write a thirty page apparel specification. So how do you convey all the necessary details to a factory in the most concise manner?
Communicate visually. Use flat sketches, construction diagrams, images of trims, inspiration images, 3D images to all tell a story. Ask yourself what images the contact person in the factory needs to create an accurate mental model of the garment. Those images need to be powerful enough to snuff out assumptions formed from previous experience or cultural context.
Do not repeat or conflict yourself. Information in the style specification should not ever conflict and should not be redundant. Detailed construction sketches should not conflict with the style sketch. If a detailed diagram of a pant fly closes left over right but a sketch of the front of the garment shows it right over left, you have a 50% chance of getting what you want.
If a bill of material clearly defines the fabric and trims, do not restate the fabric or trim descriptions on a diagram. Once is enough and reduces confusion. If you change your mind, you will only have to update one item in the specification before reissuing the specification to the factory.
Leverage a standards manual. If information is included in the standards manual, do not add the same diagram or information to the specification. Save effort by condensing diagrams that apply to all garments of a certain type into the standards manual. If you are afraid the factory won’t find the information in the standards manual reference the page or section of the manual or a link if the manual is on-line. The chart below shows information that can be included in a standards manual versus a product specification. If you are starting a new line and haven’t established standards, include all the information in your first tech packs but start saving the information to a library so you can build your manual.
Proof your work. Ask a team member who isn’t as close to the product to look over the specification. Is there anything that is confusing? Are they left with any questions? Once it is proofed and sent to the factory, make it clear that you are willing to answer questions. A twenty-four hour delay to ask a question is better than a two week delay because an assumption was made and a sample has to be recreated and shipped again.
What other tips do you have for creating specifications? How do you save time? Please share in the comments.