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Sampling 101: Everything Fashion Business Owners Need To Know

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29 September 2023

Sampling 101: Everything Fashion Business Owners Need To Know

All fashion industry professionals understand that sampling plays a pivotal role in ensuring customer satisfaction and high-quality finished products, especially in specialist markets like lingerie, activewear, and swimwear.

All fashion industry professionals understand that sampling plays a pivotal role in ensuring customer satisfaction and high-quality finished products, especially in specialist markets like lingerie, activewear, and swimwear. It is the first tangible step towards bringing a designer’s vision to life as well as an opportunity to catch a glimpse into how the product will look, feel and fit on the consumer’s body. Join us here at Bodywear Lab as we delve into what sampling is, why it is such an important step in the development process and what every fashion business owner and entrepreneur needs to know about it before embarking on their design journey. 

Sampling, in the context of the fashion industry, is the process of creating prototype garments to visualise and fine-tune a designer’s concept. It is a meticulous, multi-faceted task that involves translating creative ideas into tangible forms. Each stage of sampling, from design conception to production, contributes to refining the final product and there are often multiple rounds of sampling required before you have a product that aligns with your vision without compromising on quality or craftsmanship. 

The sampling stage comes after the pattern is created and allows the designer and manufacturer to evaluate the practicality of the design, pinpoint any construction issues and determine the product cost with final fabrics and hardware features signed off. Still not sure why sampling matters? Let Bodywear Lab break it down for you: 

Visualising the Concept

Sampling transforms abstract design ideas into tangible pieces. In lingerie, activewear, and swimwear, where fit, comfort, and aesthetics are paramount, being able to see and feel the design is crucial. This is when your CADs (Computer Aided Design) will be created. At Bodywear Lab, we can make your CADs for you, adjusting the document as we journey through the sampling process together. We also offer 3D product design, an innovative tool that helps designers to visualise their collection more accurately, with the ability to zoom in on all the details of the product. 3D design is also a great way to reduce the sampling time, as you can identify then rectify any issues without the need to sample and test any physical product, which also lowers costs and reduces any unnecessary material wastage. If you want to explore the endless opportunities the world of 3D has to offer, check out our 3D service offering here!

 

Perfecting Fit

The fit of a garment can make or break it in the contour sector as a tight and comfortable fit is the primary function. Sampling allows designers to adjust patterns and proportions to ensure that the final product offers optimum comfort and support. Our expert team at Bodywear Lab regulates your fit across all your collections, ensuring a cohesive sizing system as well as building out a brand fit suitable for your target market. Our in-house team also takes an inclusive approach to sampling by using the biggest size in your range to ensure that the fit is perfect for everyone in your size range. 

 

Material Selection

The choice of fabrics and materials is critical. Sampling provides an opportunity to assess how different fabrics behave, their stretch and durability plus how they interact with the skin in intimate wear or challenging conditions like those encountered in swimwear with pools containing chlorine or the ocean with high salt levels that can both greatly affect fabric look and quality. If you want support with fabric sourcing, whether that’s with a consultation with a sourcing expert, or to discuss how we can help your brand shine with a custom sourcing service, check out our sourcing service page here. 

Testing Functionality

Activewear and swimwear often come with specific functionalities such as moisture-wicking, UV protection, temperature regulation or water resistance. Sampling is essential for a consumer fit test which ensures these features work as intended. At Bodywear Lab, our entire expert team works under one roof, allowing us to troubleshoot collaboratively to ensure all elements of the garment are considered. 

 

Evaluating Aesthetic

 Lingerie, activewear, and swimwear are highly visual categories where aesthetics are key. Sampling helps in evaluating how prints, colours, and embellishments look in reality, rather than just on paper. Our strong in-house commercial team here at Bodywear Lab is always on hand to advise our clients how the sampling construction can be edited to improve the overall cost price for production, making sure your budget goals are met without compromising on quality. 

3d product design

 

Sampling is just one part of a much larger production process. During the sampling process, you may decide that sustainability is an important consideration for your business, or you might want to explore bio-fabric technology in your product design. If these aspects are significant to your values, or if you’re interested in what factors are currently affecting the manufacturing process as a whole, check out our September blog here, which explores how the fashion industry is evolving the production process to stay innovative and considered. 

 

So now you know why sampling is important to the design process in fashion, but what about how the process is carried out?

Step 1 – Create Your Design Concept 

It all starts with a creative spark. Designers sketch their ideas and decide on materials, colours, and details that will bring their vision to life.

 

Step 2 – Source Your Perfect Materials 

Selecting the right materials is vital. Fabrics must not only match the aesthetic vision but also meet functional requirements, such as breathability, moisture management, and durability. 

 

Step 3 – Make Your Pattern 

Pattern makers create the blueprint for the garment based on the designer’s sketches, detailed sketch sheets and selected materials. In the case of intimate wear and swimwear, precision is paramount to ensure a perfect fit.

 

Step 4 – Create Your Product Prototype

Skilled artisans then bring the design and patterns together to create a prototype. This initial sample is often called a “toile” or “muslin” and is used for fit and proportion assessment.

 

Step 5 – Adjust Your Fit & Make Design Alterations 

Models, usually fit models, try on the prototype so the team can evaluate how it fits and feels on the model. Any necessary adjustments are made to ensure the garment achieves the desired fit and aesthetics.

Step 6 – Put Your Sample To The Test

In activewear and swimwear, samples undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet functional requirements, such as stretch recovery, UV protection, or chlorine resistance.

 

Step 7 – Finalising Your Sample 

Once all adjustments are made and testing is complete, a final sample is created. This sample should be as close as possible to the end product in terms of quality and finish. At Bodywear Lab, this is our Gold Seal Sample stage, which you can find more information on here! 

 

Step 8 – Evaluate Your Budget & Costs

It’s important to keep an eye on costs throughout the sampling process. Material wastage, labour, and other expenses can significantly impact the bottom line.

 

Step 9 – Plan Your Production Process

Once the final sample is approved, production planning begins. This involves sourcing materials in bulk, finding skilled labour, and setting up a production schedule.

 

Step 10 – Quality Control 

Throughout the production process, rigorous quality control measures are implemented to ensure that every piece meets the standards set during sampling.

If you have any questions regarding the sampling process, or just want to speak to an industry expert about starting your contour brand, feel free to get in touch here! 

 

Sampling is the heartbeat of the lingerie, activewear, and swimwear sectors in the fashion industry. It is the bridge between a designer’s vision and the final product that customers will wear. Fashion business owners in these niches must grasp the intricacies of the sampling process to create garments that not only look stunning but also fit perfectly, offer optimal functionality, and meet the highest quality standards.

 

In this demanding and competitive field, sampling is an art, a science, and a business strategy rolled into one. It is the foundation upon which successful brands are built, and it is the attention to detail at this stage that sets apart the exceptional from the ordinary. In lingerie, activewear, and swimwear, where garments directly touch the skin and are often subjected to rigorous activities, sampling isn’t just a step; it’s the essence of excellence. 

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What is Brands of Tomorrow?

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.

What is Brands of Tomorrow

Brands of Tomorrow is a curated program, designed to support the growth of an exclusive group of creative entrepreneurs embarking on the journey to develop their businesses in the bodywear sector.

Interested? Find out more on our sister company,
London Contour Experts website.