What is Sampling in Garment Manufacturing?

Sampling is a process of making a product proto-type prior to starting bulk production. The same process is applied to garment sampling. In mass garment manufacturing, where apparel brands source garments in bulk quantity, sample making is an essential step before placing the bulk order.  The objective of the sampling is to eliminate the risk of making a wrong purchase of raw material, making mistake in bulk manufacturing that is not accepted by the buyer. Brands also would like the situation where they can't feed the retail shops or can't deliver the garment to their potential customers. 

Sampling process covers garment fit checking, fabric and trims quality checking, approval value-added processes, and approval of complete finished garment. Most of the buyers have a standard requirement for garment sampling for the product for sourcing the bulk garment - what types of samples they need; when they need it; and how many pieces are needed for each sample type. 

garment sampling

In garment sampling, at first one piece is developed which is known as proto-type or first sample. The apparel product designer develops the design concept, create product specifications and detailing for the new product. The technical team looks at fabrics quality parameter, trims and measurements and fit of the sample. Sampling process involved many sub-processes including pattern making, pattern grading for different sizes, fabric development, processing of fabrics, raw material sourcing (choosing right fabrics and other trims), making garment including printing and embroidery processes (if required), sample checking and sample approval from buyers. During the sampling process, normally the buyer asks for changes if required multiple times as required to get the perfect sample. Suppliers need to re-submit the sample if the sample is not fulfilled the specifications and buyer's requirement at the first submission.

The factory, who expects the bulk order for the design, sampling steps are carefully done for many other purposes - understanding process flow, machine requirement, raw material consumption, risk analysis of making the new garment design (called as style), product costing etc. Factory needs to follow buyer's time frame for sample submission and approval.

Also See: 5 reasons for FIT sample rejection

Sample development is either done by garment supplier or by the brand itself. Sometimes buying agents get the sample done (outsourced) for buyers. Buyers request for different samples at various stages of sampling. Start with the proto sample to Fit sample to size set sample to salesman sample and pre-production sample. The garment manufacturers get approval on bulk production and bulk cutting after pre-production sample approval. Comments received on the sample are incorporated in the following sample in the next sample and bulk production.

The number of samples to made and to be submitted to the buyer varies from buyer to buyer. When I used to work in a knits garment manufacturing unit and doing export order of Tom Tailors t-shirt, we needed to submit a proto sample, size-set sample, salesman, sample and PP sample. We submit the proto sample in the available fabric of similar quality (weight and fibre content). Reason at the initial stage of sample development, the actual fabric was not available. The fabric sourcing for sample and proto sample development is done parallel.

We worked for another domestic brand. We were doing job work for that brand. The proto sample and size set sample is done by brands. We received fabrics and markers from the brand. We just need to submit a pre-product sample to them for approval for production start. After production start, need to submit top of production sample (TOP sample).

Read the definition of different types of garment samples and sampling stages.

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