Episode 18: Do you really need to create a spec sheet?
Spec Sheet, Sustainability, Circular Economy, supplier, factory, sampling, production
Welcome to the Fashion Unearthed podcast. If you need help navigating the fashion industry sustainably, you have come to the right place. I'm your host Belinda Humphrey and my hope is to simplify the fashion industry so that businesses can make the best decisions for people, planet and product.
Hello, and welcome to episode 18 of the Fashion Unearthed podcast. Today's episode is more of an industry tip and relates, I guess, to conscious creation. But firstly, I wanted to thank everyone who's been listening to the podcast, I started this on a bit of a whim, I was avoiding doing a blog and I didn't want to be investing a lot of time creating content for social media platforms that I've got no control over and I have to say, I've loved creating this little space. I love watching all the downloads on the back end, seeing all the places all over the world, people are listening. So yeah, just a big thank you to everyone who's listened so far and if you're new, and this is your first one welcome and thank you to you as well. The world is such a busy place, and I'm so grateful you're choosing to spend some time with me.
So today's episode, I wanted to talk about a spec sheet, or sometimes it's called a spec pack, sometimes it technical pack. There are all sorts of names and suppliers are used to having different names for the sheets, or documents. Essentially, it doesn't matter what you call it, it's a pack, where you specify the technical information of your style to a factory or manufacturer. It's a comprehensive document used to initially communicate everything about style to the manufacturer, and then you build on it and you use it throughout the development process right through to production.
So what's in it? Firstly, I know that I mentioned industry standard, or the term industry standard on the template I've got for sale in my shop on the website. But I just want to clarify when I say industry standard, it refers to the information that a factory or supply will expect you to have in it, and the level of detail that should be in there so you get back the sample that you want. I'm not referring to the format or the layout. Are there are lots of versions out there with what people use? Yes, as usual. But there are some commonalities with them all such as the sample size, specifying trims, fabric information, colours, your measurement points, etc. The one I've made is the one that I used when I had my own label. It's simple enough, it's got all the essentials that you need it.
Now the question I get asked all the time, which prompted me to do this episode is "Do I really need one"? Or alternatively, I often get asked, Can I just send a reference sample where I mark all the changes I want done? And I would say, yes, you need one. No, you shouldn't just be sending a reference sample and there are a number of reasons why. Let's look at the top three.
Firstly, setting up a spec sheet walks you through all the details you need to be clear on before you send it to a supplier. It cuts out time and the back and forth communication and your expectations that clear up front, you've worked through everything that you need to to be able to communicate exactly what you want.
Secondly, developing product is a lengthy process with often two samples or more before production. So this document is also a history of that style, you can quickly reference where it started, what's changed, and then also communicate back to the factory, what you want changed or what you need approved. The alternative is a bunch of random emails where information gets missed and could lead to unintentional errors simply because something was missed. And we all know that errors mean time, money and resources lost.
And finally setting this document up, you'll be able to get a more accurate costing assessment with your first sample. If you've done it with enough information, most suppliers will be happy to give you a rough quote based on your quantity without even making a sample, which helps you understand what is workable upfront, either from a product point of view. Or even if you're looking to work with a new supplier, you can understand if that's possible.
So bringing this back to sustainability, having a tech pack is an important document to have when you're trying to be more sustainable. Let me explain why. There are a couple of things. Firstly, if you aren't clear upfront, it results in having to do excess sampling, which uses resources time money, and could often affect your relationship with your factory. They want to get it right and move on to the order. They don't want to be tying up their resources in their sample room with extra samples either not to mention the postage of samples getting sent back and forth.
The other one is that if you don't get everything right, maybe the fits a bit off because a change that was meant to be made was missed and it makes it less likely the garment will sell and more likely the customer will return it that's not great for sustainability. The stock will sit there and be more likely to be marked down or put on sale in the hopes to just move it the customer buys it thinking it's a bargain perhaps wears it once but knows that something's not quite right. So even though they might not be able to articulate why they don't like wearing it, they won't wear it and they'll probably just get rid of it.
It's often an area that is overlooked a lot when it comes to sustainability is actually making a product that's fit for purpose that has the right length neckline, that armhole isn't too tight, all those sorts of things. So, if you're using a spec sheet, you keep track of all of that you're across everything and you're bringing in the best possible product that you can. So hopefully that's given you a bit of an insight into what a spec sheet or tech pack is and like I mentioned earlier, there is a reasonably priced one in my shop to get you started and it comes with a 23 page guide that walks you through the whole process in simple and easy to understand terminology.
So that's it for today, a short little episode. A quick reminder that if you're into the latest developments within fashion and sustainability, I send out a monthly newsletter which you can sign up to you on the website belindahumphrey.com and you can DM me with any questions on Instagram @belindahumphrey_ or send me an email at email@example.com and finally, as always, you find the show notes and any links in the website to in the podcast section. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change.