14 Different Types of Garment Samples

In the apparel supply chain, apparel buyers need to ensure that the products they are sourcing from their supplier across the world meet their designs, construction, material quality and fit requirement. To ensure the finished product quality, buyers keep in close contact with their suppliers and in every stage from sampling to shipment they inspect the garment for a given order.
Different types of garment samples

At the different stages of product development and garment manufacturing process, the samples are given a different name. The same sample might be known as different names. There is a defined objective for developing each type of sample.

The different types of samples made by the apparel manufacturers are listed below. All the samples are defined one by one.
  1. Proto sample /First sample
  2. Fit sample
  3. Size set sample
  4. Salesman sample
  5. Photo shoot sample
  6. Development sample
  7. PP sample
  8. TOP sample
  9. Counter sample
  10. Shipment sample
  11. Showroom sample
  12. GPT sample
  13. Gold seal sample /sealed sample
  14. Red tag sample
  15. Digital Garment Sample

1. Proto Sample / First sample: 

The first sample that is developed from the design sketch or the design concept is known as proto sample. Proto samples are also known as the first sample. The proto samples are normally made of matching fabric quality (weight and fabric types), as during proto sample development actual fabric are not available with the factory. The proto sample in made in one size. Number of proto samples to be made depend on the buyer’s requirement. At least three sample should be made – 2 samples to send to the buyer for approval. Out of these 2 sample, buyer keeps one sample and send back to the second sample to the factory. Third sample should be made as a factory’s counter sample of proto. In case a third party buying house is involved in sample development, one additional sample may be required.

2. Fit Sample

Garment fit is one of the most important parameters in garment design. Fit sample is developed according to the spec sheet measurement and design sketch. Purpose of developing FIT sample is checking the garment fit on the dress form or on the human model. The measurement specifications are verified using the FIT sample and measurement are corrected as per fit requirement. Fit sample is developed after the proto sample and prior to size set sample. Like the proto sample, the fit sample is made for the middle size. 2-3 samples are developed for the fit sample. Normally, the sample resubmission rate is higher in FIT sample compared to other approval. 

3. Size set Sample

The objective of the size set sample is checking the garment fit of multiple sizes. The size set samples are normally made for jump sizes. Like S, L, XXL. A number of samples required for size set depend on the buyer's requirement. Pattern grading is checked in size set sample. If the technical team found some sizes are not giving correct fit, they do correction on the pattern grading until they get the correct fit. After the size set approval, the supplier can develop the PP sample. Size set samples are made using actual fabric. In case actual fabric is not available, the similar quality fabric can be used. (Final decision for fabric quality is buyers’)

4. Salesman sample (SMS)

Salesman sample is developed using original fabrics. Salesman samples, known as SMS, are developed for displaying the design in the retail stores. The purpose of displaying samples in the store is forecasting the order volume. Salesman samples are also known as the marketing sample. More about the SMS sample discussed here.

5. Photo shoot sample 

The name of the sample clarifies it. For capturing a photo for the catalogue and e-commerce sites photo shoot samples are made, and the photo is taken on model or dress form.

6. Preproduction sample (PP Sample)

The PP sample is made with actual fabric. The PP sample is made by the factory in the production line. All the development samples are made in the sampling room. Read the importance of the PP sample and more about PP sample.

7. Gold seal sample

An approved sample for bulk production. The PP sample can be called as sealed if buyer sealed it. Some buyers and factory used to call the approved PP sample as the sealed sample. Gold seal sample also known as a Sealed sample. Buyer seals the approved using coloured tag, which can’t be removed from the garment without damaging the garment. Some buyers give a unique code to each sealed sample, and number if embossed on the tag. Garment sample is sealed by the buyer to avoid tempering the actual approved sample by the factory tea.

8. TOP Sample/Production Sample

TOP is abbreviated as Top of Production. Factory starts bulk production after the PP sample approval. After the bulk production start, few garments are picked randomly from the production output of the first production run for quality checking by the buyer’s QA. These samples are known as Top of Production sample.

9. Counter Sample

When a factory makes samples for different sample approvals from the buyer, the factory makes 2-3 additional samples for their internal reference. These samples are called as the counter sample. A counter sample can be of the counter size set, a counter of the fit sample, counter SMS, or counter of the PP sample. Counter samples are a copy of the original samples. In case, approved samples are not available when needed or the sample required by the different teams at the same time, the factory can refer the counter sample by giving internal merchandising or quality team.

10. Shipment Sample

Buyers need to keep a random garment piece from the final shipment audit. This sample is referred for packing details, all detailing attached to the finished garment, that will be going to the stores. Factory keeps 3 samples for shipment samples – one for the buyer, the second one for factory and the 3rd one for the buying house merchant. Shipment sample is kept by the buyer as well as by the factory for future reference if any complaint raised by a customer regarding deviation of the product design and product detailing in the sold garment. 

11. Show Sample/showroom sample

The apparel manufacturers and suppliers prepare a sample for the displaying on the in-house design room or in the exhibition. Sometimes garment manufacturers develop garment sample by themselves and show those samples to there prospect apparel buyer.

12. GPT Sample

The sample that is collected from the bulk production and send to a testing lab for garment performance test (GPT), are known as GPT sample. In GPT sample, garment performance tests like seam strength, seam slippage, button pulling strength, print quality, chemical tests of metals, and dyed and printed colors are done. List tests to be performed by the lab are defined in buyers protocol. Generally, buyers don't ask for GPT sample submission. They need the GPT test report on the desired test parameters for their product. The factory needs to send at least 2 pieces of GPT samples for production.

13. Development sample

The development samples are those sample which made until the final factory gets bulk production approval. The proto, fit and size set samples are considered as development sample.

14. Red Tag Sample/ Sealed sample

A red tag sample is the same as the gold seal sample and sealed sample. A different term of the approved and sealed sample for bulk production approval. A red colored tag is attached in the sealed sample. Read more about the sealed sample.

15. Digital Garment Sample

A garment sample that is made on the software and shows the 3D form of the garment, is called a digital garment sample. On the digital sample, a customer can see the garment fit, fabric fall, pressure points (tight fitting) on the selected digital model, both as a still form as well as the digital model moves on the screen. With the aid of digital technology and to reduce sample approval process time, many buyers and made-to-measure customers go for digital garment samples. The comments and feedback on the sample are given based on the display on the screen, which is accepted by the buyer like a physical sample.

The order of sample development depends on the buyer requirement. Some buyers ask size set samples prior to PP sample. There are some buyers who ask the factory to make size set sample after PP sample approval. For some designs, salesman sample and photo shoot sample are not required. All sample are not submitted to the buyer. Some buyers don’t ask for the TOP sample.

You will find a few more names of samples if you dig more on the internet. In The 13 different kind of samples at Fashion-incubator, you will find samples names like Sew by sample, Final sample, size run sample, sizing samples, revision sample, fulfillment sample etc. Most of these samples are synonyms of some of the above samples types.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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