Product Development FAQ
What is product development?
It's the process of bringing a design to market. Think of your developer as an engineer. They help you create a tech pack, make a pattern, create sew-by samples, grade for different sizes if necessary, create a marker, and source materials and manufacturing labor.
Why is it important?
Without these services, production is an uphill battle. A large part of development work is anticipating and solving manufacturing problems before they arise. Attempting to bring a product to market without these services can be infinitely more expensive and frustrating. The only thing worse than your dream product not selling because of a fatal flaw discovered too late - your dream product selling… then being returned.
Can you define some of the terms you're using?
Grading: The process of decreasing/increasing the pattern size to cover the full range of your product’s demographic. Ideally the product is developed from the ‘medium’, then sized up and down accordingly.
Marker: A cutting map of all pattern pieces in a manufacturing order. Markers can come in different formats depending on the cutting method used. Generally markers are made for a single textile type in a given product line. If multiple styles are made from the same fabric, mixing markers and sizes can increase textile yield and minimize waste.
Pattern: A blueprint of your product. In addition to serving as the cutting template for your textiles, it helps determine how much fabric you need for a given run of your product.
Sew-by Sample: A product made from the pattern to the specifications that are outlined in the tech pack. The sew-by is often used to show a factory the level of quality you expect.
Sourcing: The search for textiles, trim, and skilled labor to produce the product. A product developer can help you establish and manage these working relationships for a cost, while some designers choose to manage this part of the process themselves.
Tech Pack: A set of specifications for your product. It consists of scale drawings, dimensions, construction details, materials, and costs.
How much does all of this cost?
Here are some general starting rates for creating your tech pack and patterns. Please note that these are guidelines, not guarantees. Each product is different and comes with its own set of unique challenges:
- Very simple garment: $1000+
- Complex garment: $1500+
- Very complex garment: $2000+
Why is it so expensive?
It’s not. Development requires a high degree of technical skill and proficiency across multiple disciplines to be well-executed. It’s also a one-time cost that is recovered through the sale of the product. Much like a home loan, multiple costs like interest and property value (development, manufacturing, textiles) are added together and amortized over the entire duration of the loan (product lifecycle) to calculate your monthly mortgage payment (per-unit cost). In this way, development costs are another tool to determine your product’s value and its ability to compete in the marketplace.
What does the process look like?
Development is iterative. When you reach the pattern phase, the developer will create prototypes for testing. Feedback (fit, general usability) from those tests are then incorporated into the pattern and the cycle is repeated until you reach the desired outcome. The process can reveal unforeseen design considerations that result in changes to the tech pack.