Garment Sampling: A Complete Guide

Garment sampling in simplified terms is the process in which a physical prototype is created from a clothing design concept. Garment sampling is one of the first and most crucial steps in the production of clothing. In this guide we are going to explore garment sampling in depth to give you everything you need to know.

The garment sampling process varies significantly for each brand. This all depends on the size and budget of your brand. As well as the complexity of the garment. Its not uncommon for big brand names to order 10,000 pieces of clothing in one style. This is a large investment so it’s crucial that they get there designs exactly spot on before bulk production.

In contrast smaller brands tend to have smaller budgets, less time and simpler designs. In most cases, smaller brands utilize a more simplified and cost effect sampling process.


3 Phases of Garment Sampling


The design phase of garment sampling is where technical designers will create digital patterns from the information provided on the tech pack. Depending on how good the initial design information is, technical designers may have to communicate back and forth with the customer to seek approval on making changes to make the garment ergonomically work.

In the evaluation phase, sample makers will then create a physical sample of the design. They use dummies or mannequins with highly accurate body dimensions to fit the sample on. They do this to ensure the garment fits perfectly before sending it to the customer for evaluation and approval. 

In many cases the customer may seek to make some minor adjustments. The customer can create a new sample. Or in the production phase adjustments can be made.

Finally, once approved production phase samples are created for the garment manufacturer. They use these final samples to communicate and use as an example for the production team to ensure quality control.


 Types of Samples



A mockup or muslin is the very first sample. It’s basically a loose take of a design concept to help visualize what the garment would look like three dimensional. It is usually made from inexpensive fabric and generally doesn’t include any trims or extras. This style of sample is generally used by creative in-house designers working on their own range. Its generally a very hands-on approach which may take many revisions to perfect. Garment manufacturers generally do not provide this service. 

Development Sample


The development or proto sample is what initiates the entire production cycle. Most reputable clothing manufacturers will require complete tech packs to ensure there is little time wasted in communication and revisions. Development samples are generally constructed out of the correct fabrics and trims. In some cases, customers with an existing relationship with a reputable garment manufacturer may opt to speed up the process by only using similar fabrics.

Smaller brands often only use development samples for a simplistic, affordable and time efficient solution to sampling. When done correctly and with the right manufacturer, it can be a fantastic option.  

Digital Garment Sample


In the past, digital garment samples had never really been adopted as a suitable option to sampling. The technology wasn’t advanced enough. However the evolution of technology in the textile and design industry has since skyrocketed. 

Digital sampling technology is now a serious contender to reshape the entire industry. Digital samples are three dimensional digital renderings of design concepts. They now have the ability to visualize the fit and fall of a garment in motion or resting still. 

This is still out of reach for most manufacturers and designers as the cost of this early technology is very expensive. 

 Fit Sample

Fit samples are as the name would suggest. The customer uses this to perfect the fit and drape of the garment. They are created using digital patterns and are fitted to custom built mannequins with accurate life-like dimensions. Small adjustments may need to be made to perfect the fit. The digital patterns will then be updated to reflect the changes. 


Size Set Sample


 The tailor grades the pattern across all sizes. Afterward, the technical designer will digitally grade or scale the sizes according to grading rules to fit all sizes.  The customer approves the size set sample before full production begins. 

Sales Sample


Sales samples are the final complete garment with the correct fabric and trims. Big brands who wholesale their garments to retail stores use these. Sales teams from the brand will use them to sell new ranges. 

GPT Sample


Some big brands may require Garment Package Test or Garment Performance samples. The manufacturer uses GPT samples  to test seam strength, colour fastness amongst a plethora of other testing options. 

Pre-production sample


The very first garments made in full production are pre-production samples.  The manufacturer uses these samples as a final approval mechanism.

Development samples and pre production samples can be interchangeable for smaller brands. 

Top of Production


Large to medium size brands often hire third party quality control inspection officers to inspect garments during and after production. They do this to ensure consistency and quality throughout and after production. TOP samples refer to garments that an inspection officer might choose randomly from the production floor.

Shipment Sample


The manufacturer completes bulk production and keeps a shipment sample.   The Manufacturer keeps this garment as a reference to address queries.




As you can see, the sampling process can be a very costly and time intensive exercise. Subsequently, large brands use most of the sample types explained in this article. Creating samples up to 1 year before bulk production begins. Lastly, big brands have large product development budgets and many of their samples never make it to final production. 

In contrast, many smaller brands will generally take all of their samples to full production and follow a simple 3 step process:

  1. Create tech pack with designer
  2. Order 1 development sample
  3. Make minor adjustments on pre-production sample
  4. Proceed with bulk production

It goes without saying, you will need a capable manufacturer to pull this off. Yoke Apparel Manufacturing based in Vietnam not only has the capability and know how to work with big brands but also offers many easy tailor made solutions for smaller brands. 



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