What Assets Are Sent For Clothing Design To Factories

I’m researching a project, and need to find out the method that a particular clothing design gets communicated to a manufacturer. Ultimately I need to find out, that if we can find clothing companies willing to work with us. Whether we can then use the files that they create to produce clothing (provided they will share them), for our project. I realize the whole licensing thing is probably a much bigger issue here, but want to understand the technical challenges I might face first.

For example; let’s say I work at Donna Karan and we’ve just designed a new shirt. I’d imagine just like product design there is 2D (or 3D?) data that shows the cut pattern for this shirt. I would take this data and send it to the factory to produce my shirt, along with a 2D representation of the fabric (or send fabric samples)?

What type of files are these (dxf, dwg, ai, etc…)? Is there an equivalent of Adobe Illustrator for the fashion world, or perhaps it is Illustrator?

I have my assumptions, but am looking for someone who may have worked in the industry that knows for sure.
Is there software (different from product design) that is the standard for working in this world?

Thanks in advance for any insight you can give!

I believe you are talking about a “tech-pack”. They are essentially everything you can compile for the product. Patterns, colors, fabric swatches, stitching, logos, etc.

Im in the process of having a wallet I designed made (not a piece of clothing but still needs to be sewn), and I just made the pattern as a solidworks drawing, then saved as a PDF so it is more universally readable.

I don’t work in the fashion industry, so I’m not sure if there is any special program (I also couldn’t find one that did anything special when I researched). Plus as along as I had the pattern and everything included, it didn’t seem to matter.

That said, there is a company in AZ that does this kind of stuff for you (http://www.protosew.com). Maybe see what they can do for you.

Let’s see if this gets a little more traffic over in Footwear & Softgoods.

Thanks GHoge,
Sounds similar to a mix of a CMF document for a product, and the dielines for product packaging!


PDF created in Illustrator, which outlines the materials, the construction techniques (calling out specific stitch types, etc), and dimensions.

I’ve used this method with dozens of factories for countless softgoods products. Though I’m sure others have different methods, this is the standard.

Yes it is called a techpack. This should include everything that is needed to construct the garment. Also in the past I have worked at companies that would buy samples that they liked the fit of and draw the new pattern lines on them so as to get a good idea how the lines actually look in 3d. Then they would send this mocked up garment to the factory so they could create the pattern from there. No 3d/cad is need. Also i would not get to much in to the pattern unless you have quite a lot of experience doing it. You might end up with something very ill fitting unless you are prototyping in house. The factory will be able to create patterns for you. At least this has been my experience with over seas manufacturing. I would summit the file as a PDF and AI native file. The thing to remember is it will require quite a few revs to produce a garment that is ready to were. The sewing process is not very accurate. There is inconstancy from sewer to sewer due to fabric stretch and lack of attention to detail.

Excellent, thanks for the info!!

They send specs, usually in the form of an excel spreadsheet with a line drawing (done in Adobe illustrator or in pen). This type of drawing is known as Flat Fashion Drawing or flats.

This will usually be accompanied by fabric swatches, perhaps a spec for a print (in colour also illustrator, but sent as a pdf), perhpas the designs coloured up but still in flats format.

Everywhere I’ve ever worked that has a clothing dept (mostly athletic branded) has specified their work in this way.