Tech Pack Software Comparison: Which One is Right for You?
Updated: Jun 25
Jump to a video version of this blog.
We all know how important a tech pack is to producing garments for a fashion brand. (And in the words of the Notorious BIG, “If you don’t know, now you know.”)
A tech pack is a detailed blueprint of your design that includes measurements, materials, and construction details.
Quiet as it’s kept, tech packs are a major part of a designer’s job, so it’s to our advantage to find ways to make the process as efficient as possible. Enter tech pack software! But, there’s quite a few options: Illustrator, PLM, Techpacker. So, which one is going to be the best choice for you?
And though you might think, “Eh, I’ll just use Excel”, I want to invite you to really think about and make a decision based on what’s going to work best for your brand.
Each option has pros and cons, and each option may or may not work best for you or for the stage at which your brand is. You may find that you start with one thing, but eventually evolve to something else as your brand gets bigger and your needs become more complex.
Key features to look for in tech pack software.
When choosing tech pack software, it’s important to consider the key features that will best suit your needs. Look for software that allows you to easily create and edit tech packs, collaborate with team members, and integrate with other design tools. Other important features to consider include the ability to add images and notes, track revisions, and generate reports.
Take the time to research and compare different options to find the software that will work best for you and your team.
The route most designers initially take when creating a tech pack is Adobe Illustrator. Since you’re already in the program creating your flat sketch and you’re familiar with the program, many people like this as an easy option and a no brainer.
And this is how I created all of my tech packs initially for that very reason. I didn’t see any reason to switch to another program when the majority of the work (which at the time was the flat sketch) was being done in Illustrator.
I’ve since moved on to other options because once you get to the BOM’s and some of the other charts in a tech pack, it can become a little cumbersome in Illustrator. It’s a lot easier to create charts in a spreadsheet or database application than one meant for drawing. And although it’s possible, it’s not what’s most efficient.
Excel or Google Sheets
The next option designers tend to gravitate toward is Excel. The great thing about Excel is that it’s universal and easily accessible. And if you need to substitute Google Sheets, it works as well as Excel, and of course, it’s a free application.
If you’re a smaller brand and just starting out, this is what I would suggest to start with. A great flat sketch, a good tech pack template, and some time spent on adding complete information will give you great results. And if you need a tech pack template to use, you can download this one for free!
The nice thing about using software like Illustrator and/or Excel and Google sheets is that they ARE more universal and easily accessible programs, so if you eventually decide to hire someone to help you, you’ll probably find a larger pool of people who know how to use these programs, something you don’t always think about.
Smaller Brand-friendly Tech Pack Software
There are a few programs out there that specifically focus on creating fashion tech packs, and they make it very easy for you to create one. Probably the one I’ve heard the most about is Techpacker. (This is an affiliate link:)
Now, I haven’t had the chance to test it, but from what I’ve seen, it can make your work pretty efficient. One of the best things about it is the drag and drop functionality. It also has a plugin that connects directly to Illustrator to allow you to add sketches or any of your other Illustrator assets to the techpacker library.
It seems like it can be a pretty efficient tool, and at a monthly price of $70/mo (and as low as $49/mo if you get a yearly subscription), it’s also budget friendly.
You usually see this in larger companies, not only because PLM software tends to be a lot more expensive but also because it’s a great product management tool for a company that has a larger collection or a lot of products.
First off, you may be wondering what is PLM? PLM stands for product lifecycle management. It’s a system that manages every aspect of your product from design, production, sales through retirement, retirement meaning you no longer offer it in the line. PLM is the information backbone for a company and its entire supply chain.
Now, honestly, I don’t know any designer who loves PLM because it’s very spreadsheet, database oriented, which most designers will read very UN-creative. However, we all understand the benefits of PLM:
it offers a streamlined process, helping to reduce time to market
your designs are visible throughout the entire organization, which allows everyone (from design to merchants to sales to manufacturers) to see the latest and greatest design
it allows the reuse of similar styles (which happens more often than you expect each fashion season)
Reuse reduces required inventory investment, which improves manufacturing, design productivity and efficiency, and
PLM reduces costly manufacturing mistakes by ensuring that everyone is looking at the most up-to-date documentation
If you feel like you’re at a point where you need something like this, you have many options, but the ones I hear about the most are FlexPLM, Backbone, Centric, Yunique (by Gerber). Backbone is one of the most price friendly for a smaller brand coming in at $199/mo and the price increases from there.
And as for the tech pack portion, it’s a similar approach to creating a tech pack in Excel, where you’d import your sketches into the program. But what takes it to the next level is that the tech pack template is built in, you can now drag and drop sketches for most of these programs, many have built in plugins that integrate with Illustrator or any other programs you might be using, and everyone in your organization has access so you can have all the information about a product in one place. You no longer need to email or send a google drive or dropbox link to your manufacture, or find that email where you discussed the negotiated price of the style or a fabric. It all goes into PLM.
Honorable Mention: Tech Pack Wizard
I want to add one honorable mention. I know I said that Adobe Illustrator may not be the most efficient way to do tech packs, but that’s also without a plugin. And after keeping an eye on this company, I think their plugin could be a game changer.
The company is called Tech Pack Wizard, and the videos below show some of the capabilities of this Illustrator plugin. You can also go to their instagram page to see other demo videos. And I have to say, I’m psyched about the launch! THIS could be an amazing option for smaller brands, freelancers, and new designers who are already using Illustrator to draw their sketches, but need a more efficient way to do a tech pack.
So check out some of the videos on the Instagram page, and if you’re as impressed as I am, you should definitely visit the website and sign up to be notified when it launches, which I believe should be pretty soon.
How to choose the right tech pack software for your needs.
Choosing the right tech pack software can be overwhelming, but it’s important to consider your specific needs and requirements.
Start by identifying the key features that are essential for your design process, such as collaboration tools, image and note capabilities, and revision tracking. Then, research and compare different software options to find the one that best fits your needs and budget.
Don’t be afraid to ask for demos or trials to test out the software before committing to a purchase.
Regardless of what software you choose, you want to make sure that it not only complements your budget but also is an efficient option for you. Tech packs are a part of the process, and it’s usually not a designer’s favorite part of the process. So you may as well make sure you’re doing it as efficiently as possible so you can get thru it and get back to the more fun and creative tasks. Like designing!
If you need a better understanding of tech packs in general or want more formal training in how to complete one, check out my tech pack course.
And if you need a tech pack template to start creating your own fashion tech pack, you can download one here.