Whether you prefer to shop through racks in-store or pile a virtual cart with clothes and accessories online, you most likely aren’t reflecting on how your selections got there in the first place. In fact, you’re probably thinking about other things — factors like color, cut, fit, the price! Such factors are an accumulation of an extensive amount of decisions and this week, Launchmetrics enlightens readers on the life span of samples for any product launch program.
Product Launch Program Breakdown
According to the Business of Fashion, a clothing company like COS (owned by H&M) creates just “two collections per year, each designed 18 months before it goes on sale”. As a result, you can imagine how intensive developing a new line can be and how crucial creating samples is.
Once a line is designed, the Design and Merchandising teams may disagree on which styles should be produced into samples. Creatively, the fashion designers may believe several pieces are worth selling while the Merchandising team (which deals with pricing and trend-forecasting) may think otherwise.
When a decision has been made, an order will be placed and detailed designs are sent to a factory (usually overseas to save on cost). Fabric has already been sourced at this point and the factory will produce these samples.
In the development phase of a product launch program, a sample goes through a rollercoaster-like cycle. Though many may think the manufacturer may be the place where the least amount of drama occurs, this is not the case.
Between employees who work solely with zippers, to fabric cutters, embroiders, and everyone in between, constructing one sample (let alone thousands) is no easy feat. During the development phase, samples might travel haphazardly across a factory as different parties work on these garments.
You probably didn’t even realize that a sample is eventually put through a cleaning process to see how it washes. This is one of the final aspects of the process, but important nonetheless.
More information on sample creation can be found on MarthaStewart.com.
Once production ceases at a factory, prototype samples are shipped back to the Design and Merchandising teams. There, designs are inspected and tried on fit models.
If something doesn’t work, notes are relayed back to the factory. After another round of edits (there is often more than one), the design house finally settles on what to present to the public.
From there, that finalized set of samples is displayed at Market Week. During this time, the reviews of editors and buyers will help to inform a design house on which samples should be ordered to be marketed further. This all happens before any runway shows or buyers place orders.
After Market Week, the fashion company usually orders two sets of samples for their sales team, one is sent to e-commerce/sales, one goes to product development, and one set is distributed to marketing/PR as they begin to promote the new collection.
Meanwhile, runway shows and presentations go underway and showroom visits begin. To ensure maximum visibility, Launchmetrics provides Samples software for companies to track their samples and Galleries, a digital showroom that allows fashion industry insiders to view and request samples and images.
End of a Sample Cycle
At the end of each product launch program, samples end up in various places. While some companies choose to archive their designs, some samples end up being sold at Sample Sales or are lost/stolen. Often times, samples that are produced but didn’t make it in the final collection are gifted or given to charity.
No matter where they reside permanently, sample creation is crucial to the design and product launch process and offers tremendous insight into what works, what will sell, and what won’t.
One example of a sample’s lifecycle throughout a product launch program: