From minor imperfections to major defects, when things go wrong during production it’s often the result of one of these three “beginner’s mistakes.”
Ignoring Recurring Problems During Development
When an aspect of a product or garment is proving tricky to perfect during sampling – like a specific drape or a method of construction – it can mean that the flaw is in the design, rather than the fault of the person making it. It’s common for new designers to think that when an experienced factory actually starts producing the goods, the problem will go away. Not true! The more likely scenario is anyone trying to make your product will have trouble with the same issues.
Even if what you are trying to achieve is technically possible, incorporating a challenging design element or hard-to-handle material increases the chances that there will be errors during production. It also increases the frustration-factor, which strains the relationship between client and supplier.
Not Having a Pre-Production Sample
When a color isn’t coming out just right or a measurement is slightly off during the sampling process, it can be tempting to trust a supplier who says “Don’t worry, we’ll fix that when we do the full run.” But no matter how seasoned the factory or how much of a rush you are in, never move forward with an order until you have approved what is called a PP or “pre-production” sample.
PP samples represent the final version of a product or material and are issued by factories to customers in order to secure a green light for production. Early iterations of samples may use dummy materials (or substitute colors and finishes), but PP samples are meant to be exact. They prove that a supplier can meet the order requirements, and also act as a physical tool of comparison when checking specifications on a bigger batch.
Without a PP sample, a factory may make incorrect assumptions about what you want on the finished product, and miscommunications can arise over small yet important details. Always insist on taking this extra step, despite any reassurances you may receive!
Opting Out of a Pre-Ship Inspection
A “pre-ship inspection” is conducted on-site at a factory, after goods are finished being produced and before they ship to their final destination. If possible, it should happen prior to the release of final payment. Pre-ship inspections are carried out by an independent quality control agent or by you the designer, but not by a supplier themselves. Factories may have their own quality checks, but the point of this step is to protect the customer’s unique interests.
Once shipping and payment are complete, it becomes much harder to negotiate refunds or demand corrections on defective product. Receiving bad product means that you’ve paid unnecessarily to ship it (it could have been rejected and left with the factory), and if items need to be sent back to a factory to be corrected and then re-shipped once again to you, shipping costs are tripled!
Spending more time in development, shipping extra samples, or hiring an inspector may mean upping your initial production budget, but none of these items will break the bank. Paying for a batch of bad product however, may do just that!