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Checking Your First Clothing Sample: What to look out for?

A closer look at different types of garment samples which is important for clothing manufacturers out there who are still new to the industry.


Checking Your First Clothing Sample: What to look out for

If you are still a beginner in garment manufacturing, it should not be surprising that the first production attempts are a mess. There are a lot of processes to go through and modify including terms to get familiar with such as tech packs, prototypes, OEM, white label clothing, samples and a lot more. In this article, let us focus on the last term: clothing samples.

Most startup clothing manufacturers wonder why sampling involves a lot of money when it is not even part of the real production process yet. Is it really worth all the money? Let us go through different types of samples and explain how this process could impact garment production in ways allowing you to save time and money.

Different Types of Garment Samples

Garment samples or apparel samples come in different names depending on its purpose within the development process. Newbies normally get confused with each name which is why let us first cover the common names for apparel samples in general.

  • Muslin (also known as dummy, mock-up, prototype, proto, drape)
  • Fit sample (also known as original sample, first sample, test garment, development sample, design sample, original patter, style reference)
  • Sew-by sample (also known as costing sample, pre-production sample, P/P, pre-prod)
  • Sales sample (also called duplicate or counter sample)
  • Photo sample (also known as model size, editorial sample, flat sample)
  • Size run (also referred to as sizing sample or size set)
  • Top of production a.k.a. TOP

I completely understand these influx of foreign terms and words will be confusing for newbies. To have a clear understanding, here is a breakdown of each apparel sample types and how they fit on to the pre-production phase.

1. Muslin

The very first garment sample sewn in a cheap fabric is the muslin. It is a rough outline of the design in 3D form. Muslin may also include trims and other add-ons notable on production. The muslin is also referred to as the prototype and is expected to go through several modifications or reiterations before the final design and pattern gets decided.

2. Fit sample

As the names suggests, this sample is created to confirm the desired fit of the apparel. Muslins can also be used as fit samples.

3. Sew-by sample

This sample represents the production process needed to manufacture the garment. This sample is also used for cost estimation as changes to the design will affect the quote once again. It would be cost-effective to have your sew-by sample as your final prototype as well.

4. Sales sample

This sample is done by the factor to verify production costs and quality of the custom clothing. This sample is commonly used for marketing purposes and is presented to clients who may be interested to market the product in your behalf.

5. Photo sample

Photo samples are usually used as basis of the product size used during product photography. If your website or product catalog does have a photo gallery, make sure you use photo samples wherein the product/s fit right into the camera frame.

6. Size run

These are samples made in different sizes the garment will be available. This type of sample ensures each size fit the right away and to be able to save on trims and sew costs needed to produce each size.

7. Top of production

A set of samples taken out of the first batch of production. TOPs clothing manufacturers receive is a percentage of the first production order. In order to save money, set the percentage at a minimum in or order to get one or two garments out of a batch. This is best advisable for small batch clothing manufacturers.

Do you need to have Multiple Samples?


Having multiple samples instead of a single prototype is a must for clothing manufacturers. This way, you have multiple options for directions to go to for a better chance of product success. Having a single prototype only works if you are only working with one designer, but with many parties involved in a clothing production factory, then multiple samples should come in handy.

Sampling Makes Perfect

We all have experiences wherein the item we looked at the product catalog is very different from the one we bought. There could be multiple negative reasons why such as wrong fit, different color, sleeve issues etc. The best way to avoid this problem is through sampling. Having garment samples solves such issues before mass production begins and customers can be assured what they see in catalogs is definitely what they get.

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