How Much Should I Pay for Sampling?
Updated: Nov 25, 2022
by Corban Bryant
If you've ever ordered a custom-sewn product before, you probably know that there is a ton of work that goes into getting a product ready for production. You may have a great idea for a design, but many new fashion entrepreneurs underestimate the work that goes from design sketch to final, production-ready sample. Some of the work to get a style ready for production includes:
- developing fit and measurements for the fit of your brand;
- tech-pack development;
- sourcing materials;
- making a pattern;
- sewing muslins, toiles, or test samples;
- refining the design for fit, feasibility, fit, durability, or cost, and then resampling;
- making a prototype or final sample;
- and then finally developing a detailed production tech-pack and costing with the factory that will make your product.
Throughout this process, there are a million details. Often, a number of different service providers will need to be involved. As you explore the options for service providers, you may find you'll end up repeating some of this process with different providers as they may not offer you the exact package you need. It can be a complicated process trying to find the answer to the questions: Who is the best option for doing all this work? And how much should it cost?
At Purnaa, we make it easier by offering an all-inclusive sampling, pattern-making, sourcing product development package. We assign a project manager who will be with you every step of the way. They send photo updates as the sample is developed and most importantly, they work with you to refine the design to meet your cost, sustainability, quantity, and timeline goals.
BUT~ We were curious about the going rates in the industry for these production preparation services. So, we conducted a survey of 32 different sample-service providers that all market themselves as ethical or sustainable. We sometimes had to secret-shop them to find out their pricing and process because they often don't post it online. Here's what we learned...
Different Types of Sampling Service Providers
First, there are many types of sample service providers. Some are manufacturers that offer sampling as a service to prepare for production, some are sourcing companies that mix and match service providers and help customers find a manufacturer (effectively middlemen who manage the project for you), and some are design houses that help with design, pattern-making, sampling, and tech-pack creation but leave it to the customer to find a manufacturer. Here are the categories we studied.
Types of Services
Each company offers some services, but perhaps not all. Here's the distribution of different services offered.
How Do Suppliers Usually Charge for Sampling?
Each company prices these services differently. Very few publish their prices online, you may have to give them a specific design before finding out any cost info, or they might even wait to tell you until the sample is complete. However, we found there to be a handful of main pricing systems. If they charge sampling as a percent of the production price or include the sample in the production cost, they may require a deposit for the production order before doing the sampling.