• Mikelle Drew

What is the BOM for a Fashion Tech Pack?


What's a BOM in a Fashion Tech Pack
What's a BOM in a Fashion Tech Pack

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We just covered this in a recent class, but aside from the tech pack itself and the sketch, the BOM is super important.


They are probably one of the most challenging and time consuming topics in my classes.


One reasons is the software: the PLM system we use to complete it can be a little challenging. But the other reason is just making sure all the information is present. And it’s imperative to have an accurate BOM in your tech pack.


Here’s why:



What is a BOM?

First, let’s talk about what a BOM is.


BOM stands for bill of materials. The format or layout of a BOM may vary, but it needs to list all of the materials needed to create a garment.

That includes any of the following:

  • body fabric

  • lining

  • interfacings

  • interlinings,

  • trim

  • notions

  • zippers

  • thread.

It also includes the color or finish of all of those materials and where they are placed on the garment.


The reason this can be a tricky chart for designers to make is because we may not be used to telling someone else all of the details about our designs. If you sew your own garments, you may be used to just going shopping for your fabric and trim and just picking things up instinctively because you know you’ll need them.


Cut fabric ready to be sewn into a garment.
When you use a manufacturer, you have to list all the details of your design in a tech pack.

Once you get to the point where you’ve got to rely on a manufacturer to make your samples or your bulk production, you really have to get into the habit of listing ALL of the materials you need, what colors they are, and where they are placed on your garment.


Working with a Manufacturer

Speaking of a manufacturer making your samples or production, the BOM is also a great way to ensure that the manufacturer doesn’t forget to order a fabric or trim.


There were definitely times in my past life where I forgot to put something on the BOM, and we were hounding our vendor that we needed that sample ASAP. They’d finally send it, but some trim or fabric was either not there or they substituted it with something else. When we inquired about it, their response would be that the item wasn’t on the BOM so they just chose something.


Male and female factory workers sewing garments in a factory
You need to be clear about all of the materials that go on your garment when you're using a manufacturer.

Sometimes the vendor would find a great substitution and your sample looked amazing, and other times they would make a decision that you don’t agree with, and your sample (or production) wouldn't turn out the way you wanted it to. And really, it isn’t their fault. Sure they could have asked you what you wanted. Some might even say they should have. But honestly, you can’t really complain because YOU didn’t specify what you wanted on your BOM.


Costing

The last really important reason a BOM is important is for getting accurate costing.


Years ago, when I wasn’t quite as good at creating BOMs, I designed a garment, we sent the tech pack out to be sampled and for costing, but I forgot a trim. I didn’t think too much about it. I mean, the trim only cost about 10 cents. C’mon. 10 cents? That wouldn’t really affect the cost of the garment that much.


Except it did!


For us, when we’re talking about 1 or 2 garments, 10 cents doesn’t mean much. But when you’re working for companies who order thousands or tens, hundreds of thousands of pieces of a style, that 10 cents quickly adds up.


Sample of a BOM from a tech pack
Sample of a BOM from a tech pack

And even for a smaller brand who has an order for a few hundred or 1000 pieces, that may only translate to $50 or $100, but it’s still $50 or $100 out of your profit.


We ended up not putting the trim on the garment, which was a real bummer for me. But it taught me a good lesson about making sure that everything that’s on your garment is represented in your BOM so that the cost you receive is accurate.


If we had gotten that first cost with the 10 cents added, there might have still been some price negotiation, but the trim would have probably stayed on the garment. But by the time I realized I had left it off, the buyer had already signed off on the price and style, and we weren’t going to go back to her with a higher price. That’s like you pre-ordering a garment for one price, and then the store comes back to you and says, “Actually, we made a mistake and we need another dollar from you.” Nobody wants to have to do that.


It’s either that, or the brand takes the loss.


Or . . . you make sure that BOM is accurate!


When it comes to tech packs, they can be time consuming and challenging, but they’re also extremely significant to you making great product and making great product that you can also SELL at the right price.


And completing that BOM is definitely one of my favorites topics to talk about in my Creating a Fashion Tech Pack class, and I think, one of the most important parts of the course.