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How to Deal with a Disastrous Apparel Prototype: 3 Tips for Apparel Developers

Disappointed with your latest apparel prototype? You're not alone. In the world of apparel development, bad prototypes are a common hurdle. But fear not! This blog post will discuss some options you have and equip you with the knowledge to tackle this situation effectively. 

Here are our 3 top tips for handling a terrible prototype:

1. Rejection is an Option

Don't be afraid to send that bad prototype back! However, before pointing fingers, make sure your tech pack is flawless. A confusing or incomplete tech pack can lead to misinterpretations by the factory. So, take this opportunity to scrutinize your tech pack and ensure it provides crystal-clear instructions.

If your tech pack was dialed, then you can tell your factory that the sample is rejected and you don’t need to spend any time fitting it with your team. We do recommend that you measure the garment, review it for construction and give feedback to your manufacturer so they know what was incorrect about it though. This will help them improve for the next round.

On the other hand, if your tech pack is not buttoned up, then you want to be clear that the garment is rejected due to insufficient information provided. Essentially, the mistake is on you. Take the time to improve your tech pack and ask for a new sample.

2. Focus on Key Elements During Fitting Sessions

If you don’t want to reject the garment, and you feel you can make better improvements by proceeding with an official fitting, then it is key that you don’t take on too many revisions here. Not all aspects of a garment need equal attention during the initial fitting, especially if so much of it fits poorly. 

For tops, prioritize the armhole shape, shoulder fit, and body circumferences.  

For bottoms, focus on the rise shape, leg circumferences, and overall body fit. 

By concentrating on these crucial elements, you can provide the factory with targeted feedback for significant improvements in the next round. The remaining revisions that you ignored at this stage might still be there for you next time, but they should be much more minor and easy to handle once the major fit changes have been addressed.

3. Consider an In-House Prototype

If you suspect the issue lies with your pattern or tech pack, consider creating an in-house prototype. This can be a great way to identify discrepancies before involving the factory again. Do you have a pattern engineer and sewing team on hand? Collaborate with them to create a prototype that embodies your vision. This can significantly improve communication and lead to a more successful outcome with the factory.

Your in-house proto will come out one of two ways: just like the factory proto or much improved over their versions. In the former situation, you and your team have some work to do before you ask the factory to try again. Maybe this is a perfect opportunity to try some 3D fit rounds! In the latter situation, you can go back to Option #1 above and tell them that their proto is rejected and they need to try again.

Remember: Patience is Key

Prototyping is an iterative process. Don't get discouraged by setbacks. It's normal for revisions to be necessary and for protos to need work. Communicate clearly with both your team and the factory, and approach the situation with patience. Your manufacturer wants to get each project right, just like you do! So remember to be kind with your communication and accept that this is just part of the industry.

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