Quick Guide To Sampling Process for Clothing Product Development

Traditional Sampling Cycle

Traditional Sampling Cycle



We can classify sampling process for a clothing line into two categories:

Development Sampling Stage

  • Prototype or Proto Sample

  • Salesman sample/photo shoot sample

  • Fit sample

  • Pre-Production Sample

Production Sampling Stage

  • TOP-top of production sample

  • Size set or size run

  • Shipment sample


Prototype Sample/Proto Sample

-Sample maker or factory makes Proto Sample based on sketch, specs and construction details from the technical package.

-This is the first sample in a product development stage. It is customary to submit sew by sample along with a tech pack as a guidance for a fit and construction.


Salesman Sample

-Salesman Sample is created in size small in the actual fabrics, trims and colors for the showroom or trade show display.

-The main purpose of the salesman sample is marketing, sales and gathering the feedback from buyers to forecast demand for a specific style.


Fit Sample

-The factory makes Fit Sample in the actual fabrics and trims using the specs for the base size (e.g. medium).

-Technical Designer will organize fit session to try on sample on a live model and check a fit and style details accuracy. 

-Technical Designer will measure fit sample, conduct fit session, pin the garment and send revised specs to the factory to make a new fit sample.

-Factory will review all notes and revise pattern, make a new fit sample and send it back for approval.


Pre-Production Sample/PP Sample

-Pre-Production or PP Sample is the name for a approved Fit Sample before bulk production start. It means that PP sample will serve as a reference in workmanship, specs and fabrication (fabrics and trims) that factory needs to follow for bulk production.

-PP Sample is an important and the last part of the development process. PP Sample is a visual and tangible agreement between the brand and the factory about how the final clothing style shipment should look and fit.


Top of Production Sample/TOP Sample

-During the bulk production, the factory will randomly pull a few finished garments out of a production line and send it to a buyer’s technical team for a QC (quality control).

-TOP Sample will serve as a checkpoint assurance that factory is following PP Sample specifications.


Size Set Samples or Size Run

-When production is done, the factory will send Size Set or Size Run (one sample of each size). This step checks the garment measurements accuracy for all sizes.

-Technical Designer records all measurements in the tech pack for the future reference.

-Ideally, size set should be sent before the start of production for the grade rule check and its proportional transfer into the graded pattern.

-Unfortunately, there is never enough time for this step.  The factory usually sends size set after they complete the bulk production.


Shipment Sample

-After the bulk production completion, including packing and labeling for shipment, the factory pulls a few shipment ready pieces and sends it to the customer/buyer for a reference.

-Shipment Sample will serve as a future reference for both factory and the buyer (labeling, folding, packaging, tagging etc.)



-Sampling process can be lengthy and costly and will have to be well organized and managed if you want to prevent unnecessary money spending.

-Sampling with domestic manufacturers differs from sampling with overseas factories and the order and a quantity of fit samples may vary.

-The sampling process can shape differently and will depend on the size of the clothing company and the factory they are using to produce their clothing line.

-3D Virtual Prototyping is taking an important role in changing the way we do the sampling process.

- 3D sampling technology offers the new and more efficient way to develop and manufacture the clothing line.

3D Virtual Sampling

3D Virtual Sampling

Contact us to learn more about clothing sampling and 3D virtual prototyping.