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Tech Pack vs Specification Sheet – What’s the difference?

As a designer in the fashion industry, it’s necessary to deal with factories and manufacturers on a regular basis. Whether you use freelance contractors for small production runs or require the services of an overseas factory, one of the requirements of working with them will be to provide a Specification Sheet, in the first instance, followed by a Spec Pack (often referred to as a Tech Pack). Read on to know the difference between a Spec Sheet and a Tech Pack.

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Many industry newcomers struggle when working with factories until they learn what these working documents are and learn to appreciate their importance. On the other hand, larger brands as well as factories swear by these documents and place the utmost importance on their creation and keeping them up to date.

So what is it that these big brands know that others don’t?

Let’s delve in and demystify what a Specification Sheet is, why it’s produced, what it should contain and how it differs from a Spec/Tech Pack.

The Specification Sheet commonly referred to as “Spec Sheet” in the fashion industry, is a document created by the designer or product developer that gives a detailed overview of a product. The Specification Sheet forms part of a Specification Technical Package, which contains absolutely everything required to make your garments. This is called Spec Pack or Tech Pack.
It is produced to provide essential details – the specifications – of the product, to ensure the correct execution of your designs into professionally finished garments or accessory products. This is the blueprint for your garment production, as it contains all the necessary components required to manufacture it.
It includes the following: It includes the following:
Product code (style number for fabric and haberdashery). Technical drawings
Product description. Reference materials
Supplier details. Samples of special finishes and techniques
Cuttable width, size of buttons or length of zippers, etc. Packaging information
Estimated and actual amounts of fabric meterage and quantity. A pattern
Required finishing of fabric such as dyeing. Graded Spec
Costing information. Test requirements
Placement details. Quality Control
Materials and Trims.

Top Tips to Build a Specification Sheet

The execution of accurate samples will improve turnaround time and simplify communication during each stage of manufacturing and quality control.

  • The Specification Sheet should be produced prior to the issue of a sample or production docket, with a copy kept in the file attached to the costing sheet. If any changes occur such as design or component changes, a new Specification Sheet should be issued to the factory.
  • The front page of a Specification Sheet usually contains photos or front and backline drawings of the product. The drawing is usually produced on a computer for a cleaner look, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as it is clear and gives a clear visual idea of the product so it is easily identified, then that is sufficient. 
  • The most important information detailed in the Specification Sheet is the list of materials, trims and other components that are used for the manufacture of the product.
  • Often referred to simply as BoM (Bill of Materials) the accuracy of this list is paramount. If an item is not listed in the BoM then it will not be used. If the wrong item is listed or detail has changed and wasn’t updated on the Spec – then it will affect the end product you will get. For every colour in which the garment is to be produced a separate BoM must be made.
    The factory will need to see your BoM prior to starting your work as they will use it as a checklist to make sure that they’ve received all of the relevant items.
  • Some Specification Sheets also include the measurement grades between sizes as well as the detailed size gradation for the garments. It is also useful as a resource document for purchasing materials and trims, and in future years it could be referred to if you choose to revisit a vintage design.

It also puts you in a position of financial security. If the factory chooses to ignore any of the information on the Specification Sheet and does their own thing, they will be at fault. In the event that this should occur, you will be in a stronger position to ask for your money back or to seek legal aid.

Top Tips to Build a Spec Pack/Tech Pack

It’s important to understand the best practices pertaining to technical files, as after your samples have been approved this essential tool would allow you to move your production to any factory anywhere. The Tech Pack needs to be detailed, accurate and must include the following:

  • Technical drawings – A clean line drawing of the garment with a front and back view. It’s more professional if done on a computer but is also perfectly acceptable produced as a clean line drawing, by hand.
  • Reference materials – Any images referencing finishes and details that you would like to be applied or included in your products. Working with factories globally located often leads to communication problems due to language barriers or simply calling the same thing different names, so showing visually what you want is best all around.
  • Samples of special finishes and techniques – It’s worthwhile supplying samples so that there is no confusion regarding finishes and techniques on your garments.
  • Packaging information – How are the products packaged, in cellophane bags or boxes? Be specific and give clear instructions. Consider the product’s journey not only from the factory to you or your warehouse but also beyond. 
  • A pattern – A professional pattern of the garment with all relevant information included. The factory sometimes offers a pattern making service.  Alternatively, you will have to source a pattern cutter.
  • Graded Spec – With PoMs (Points of Measure) – This is comprised of a list of measurements for the various sizes that the garment will be manufactured.
  • Test requirements – These are often overlooked and neglected, yet they are incredibly important to ensure longevity, performance and ultimately ensure customer repeat purchases and brand loyalty.
  • Quality Control – This section deals with the requirements of quality control.

Steps to Build a Specification Sheet [in a nutshell]

  • Produce a Spec Sheet for every item you design.
  • Include Technical drawings. 
  • Include trims, colour and fabric references.
  • Issue a new Spec Sheet every time a design change occurs.
  • Include detailed construction notes.
  • Include finished garment measurements.
  • Include as many annotated reference images to help visually explain what you want.
  • Highlight any important sections so they are not missed out.

Read more about the importance of Specification Sheets and why you need one here.

Steps to Build a Tech Pack [in a nutshell]

  • Produce a tech pack for every item you design.
  • Don’t forget to include your pattern (physical or digital file).
  • Every sample received and revision notes documenting the development should be included.
  • Ideally, attach the Techpack to a sealed sample.
  • Don’t forget to include packing and QC checklists.

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Read more about what Tech Pack is here.