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Fashion merchandising: importance of sampling

Introduction:
Sampling is one of the main processes in garment manufacturing and it plays vital role in attracting buyers and confirming the order, as the buyers generally places the order once satisfied with the quality and responsiveness of the sampling. It is the most crucial and most important stage of fashion merchandising. Sampling department makes samples on the basis of the specification and requirement by the buyer. Sampling in merchandising may be defined as “The concept, perception and ideas of fashion designer developed into product samples, in systematic stages of product development, with technical and quality clarity in a development.” Though sampling is a difficult and time bound process, it will help the exporter to get the order from the buyer. Before placing any order to the factory, the buyer wants to know whether the factory is capable of producing the styles with the desired quality levels or not. The samples decide the ability of exporters to deal with any given style of garment. The buyer accesses the capability of exporter only with the help of Samples. If the samples are of good quality naturally the buyers will be willing to place the order to factory. Sampling also work as a bridge between the productions and marketing department, hence it has the influence of both marketing as well as production department. So it is essential that the samples should be innovative and should be manufactured with optimum quality.Different types of samples:
Sampling process varies from buyer to buyer, and type of style as well, but in industry there is particular order of sampling is followed, the stages and purpose of sample may be same but terminology used may be different and it totally depend upon buyer. The typical samples namely described as:
1. Design development
2. Proto sample
3. Fit sample
4. Ad or photo shoot sample
5. Sales man sample
6. Pre- production sample
7. GPT sample
8. Size set  sample
9. TOP sample
10. Wash sample
11. Shipment sample

These samples are sent to the buyer one after another for approval from the buyer and to proceed further. Apart from these usual steps, sometimes the buyer suggests some changes in the prepared sample, and then incorporating those suggestions makes a counter sample andin it is sent to the buyer for approval. The sampling department helps the merchandising department for finding out fabric consumption per unit garment and thereby helps in the costing of garment.
Briefs on different samples:
1. Design development:

  • This is the first sample which is made for any style by most of the buyer.
  • Design development is either done by buyer or factory
  • The main purpose is to take the decision to proceed with the same line or not.

2. Proto sample:

  • Proto sample is developed at very initial stage and normally order is confirmed to the factory based on proto sample only.
  • Normally, buyer send proto sample request to 2-3 factories.
  • nThe factory which submits the good quality and optimum price will get confirmation from buyer.
  • Proto sample are normally prepared in similar fabric if actual fabric is not available.
  • Substitute Trims can be used on proto.
  • As proto sample is given first time to the factory to buyer, so to develop the proto sample buyer need to provide necessary information along with the proto request. These are: Specification Sheet (Tech Pack), Bill of Material, Development sample (optional), Paper patterns (optional), Sample of novelty trims, Sample of fabric yardage (it may be send by buyer or asked to develop), Details of Print or Embroidery, if any.
  • Generally proto request is responded within the 7-10 days by merchandiser.
  • Factory need to submit at least 4 proto samples (quantity may change buyer to buyer)
  • If buyer does not approve the proto sample, factory needs to submit the 2nd proto sample to get approval.
  • Once proto get approved buyer asks to start working on fit sample.

3. Fit sample

  • Fit sample is made and send to conform the fit of the garment on live models or on dummy and for approval of construction details.

At this stage of sampling, buyer makes sure that factory understands thoroughly the construction and quality details and standards The sample sent mostly in medium and large sizes mentioned by the buyer.

  • The fabric used for fit sample production is the actual fabric which is going to be used for bulk production or sample yardage fabric is used.

4. Ad or photo shoot sample:

  • In order to promote the new style in the market normally buyer asks for AD sample for photo shoot.
  • Buyer uses this photo for marketing purpose either on catalogue or various media like, print, TV or websites to see the response of the consumer.
  • This sample mainly sends in medium to large or sizes specified by buyer.

5. Sales man / Marketing /Showroom sample:

  • The main purpose of salesman sample is to collect the order from the retailers.
  • In Sales man sample actual accessory, actual fabric is used or sample yardage need to be used.
  • This sample also very important stage of sampling as the sales of buyer depends upon this sample presentation, look, feel of fabric is important.
  • The quality of the sample should be up to the mark of the buyer; hence merchandiser should aware and make sure that product development team is well aware about the sample quality parameters.
  • The cost of sample production is given by buyer or sometimes buyer may give 150% of FOB.

6. Size set sample:

  • The main purpose of size set sample is to check the factory’s capability to make the sample in all sizes.
  • The size set sample should be made in the actual fabric and trims.
  • The samples can be made in the sampling room or actual production floor, as required by the buyer.
  • Bulk cutting of fabric for production should start only after size-set sample get approved.
  • Normally, 1-2 samples (or quantity specified by buyer) of each size need to send to buyer.
  • If sizes are more in number then buyer may ask to skip some sizes, called jump size set sample.

7. GPT sample (Garment Performance Test):

  • The main purpose of GPT is to perform the physical and chemical testing on garment to ensure the performance of the garment.
  • The tests done on garments are: Shrinkage, Color Fastness, Seam performance etc.
  • Garments for GPT sample can be done along with Size Set sample.
  • Normally, GPT Sample is sent to 3rd party inspection and results are sent to both factory as well as buyer.
  • If same style is having 3-4 different colours then only one color sample is tested completely and other colours samples are tested only with colour way test i.e. only colour fastness tests are conducted.

8. Pre- production sample: (PP sample)

  • PP sample is considered to be a contract between the buyer and the factory.
  • It has to be made in original fabric and trims
  • Washing, embroidery and printing should match to actuals.
  • PP Sample is the standard for production and bulk production garments should be identical to PP sample.
  • The factory can start the production of bulk garment only after the approval of preproduction sample.
  • PP sample sends in only one size 1-2 samples or specified by buyer.

9. Wash sample:

  • Wash sample is made and submitted to buyer for assessment of feel and handle of fabric after washing of Denim or shirt washing program, hence either at size set stage or PP stage washing sample is sent to buyer for approval and carry forward of washing program.
  • If sample is not approved or approved with comments, factory needs to submit 2nd sample to get approval.
  •   After feel assessment buyer may suggest the changes in washing program.

10. TOP sample (Top of Production):

  • The top of production is sent to the buyer as soon initial pieces are come out of sewing line with suggestion of QA department.
  • In TOP sample Buyer tries to evaluate the actual manufacturing of the style.
  • Buyer check whether bulk production is as per submitted sample or not.
  • TOP sample also checked by the buyer for the packaging.

11. Shipment sample:

  • Few buyers may ask for the shipment samples which factory needs to pull form the actual shipment and sent to buyer.
  • The main purpose of this sample is to assure buyer about the actual shipment dispatch.

People involved in sampling:
Several people and departments are invloved in sampling process.They are: merchandising department, sampling/ product development team, trim and fabric store, pattern making department, quality assurance team, dispatch department and etc.

Assessment of sample:
Buyer assesses the sample and gives the feed back within 5 – 7 days to factory with respect to sample. Feedback from the buyer is 3 types i.e. accepted, rejected, and accepted with comments.
The rejection of sample may be due to following reasons: There could be one or more reasons for the sample rejection from buyer, these are: sample made out of tolerance, incorrect construction, fabric quality may not up to mark, incorrect packaging, incorrect size submission, frequent change in style and more.

What buyer looks into sample?

following table presents necessary requirements from buyer:

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Conclusion:
Sampling is the heart of any export order processing. The future of any style purely depends on buyer and factory which are adding value to the samples. So it is very important to understand the sample development process to control quality and costs in the initial stage or in the sampling development. Merchandiser plays the central role in sampling process as, the only person between the buyer and factory who understands the buyer specification, technical details and time line of sampling. The process of sampling is about the eventual satisfaction of specific needs. It is about products the company can make or out-source profitably for which there is a market demand. Sampling is the best way to place an order. The purpose of sampling is not only to get bulk order and also it gives some additional benefits to the exporters. The use of technology, computer based designing, as well as innovation and creativitiy are important tools in driving apparel sampling.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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