Technical packs, find a factory – Footwear News
In the journey of creating and building a shoe brand, there are many questions to be asked, from general dilemmas such as what do I offer to the market to more granular topics around production, marketing and retail distribution.
In the FN x FIT Footwear Business Foundations educational course, powered by Yellowbrick, industry experts seek to answer all of these questions from start to finish by delivering “a comprehensive educational program that delves deep into what makes successful d ‘a shoe company and teaches the skills to build a brand from scratch.
In the first module of the program, participants got an overview of the evolution of the footwear industry, various business models, as well as how to develop a team that will embrace and execute the brand vision.
Module 2, “Footwear Production Management”, which is available now, explores the nuances of the design and production process, providing knowledge vital to any successful footwear business.
Here are three essential questions that the experts answer during the sessions:
What is a technical pack?
Tech Packs – or, as they’re sometimes called, Data Sheets – are the instructions for the factory that describe every aspect of a product. “They’re like a contract with your factory,” says Sarah Mullins, associate chair of the footwear and accessories design program at FIT. “You will educate the factory on every detail of this shoe, from materials to midsole, outsole, sock liner, liner, stitch type, yarn type, logo placement, workmanship. – is it welded, is it sewn, is it molded All of this information is in this tech pack, and whatever you don’t put in it won’t be added by the factory.
She adds that it is important to be very specific in your instructions in the tech packs. “You know, if you don’t include the thread color, you get any thread color on the machine,” says Mullins. And brands can miss an opportunity in the market, she notes. “I always tell our students any information you don’t put in your tech pack, someone else will find what is missing.”
What is a SKU?
A SKU, or “inventory management unit” is a code assigned to individual products and is usually associated with a scannable barcode. Maggie Beatty, Director of Operations for Jessica Rich Designer Shoes, explains that SKUs help differentiate between different styles in your inventory, with unique codes assigned based on different sizes, colors, and specs. It also has universal functionality. “The big reason for using a SKU to communicate with factories is that it’s usually a combination of letters and numbers.
SKUs and barcodes are also essential for tracking sales results and planning for the future. “It is very important to monitor the data associated with each SKU,” says Beatty. “You can find out which styles sell best, or which colors or sizes sell best. [That’s] how you will make your projections in the making and [determine] which sizes you are going to take heavier and which sizes you need to go lighter.
How to choose a factory?
“For the young start-up entrepreneur, partnering with the factory is one of the most critical decisions he will face when starting his business,” says Michael Atmore, brand director of Fairchild Media Group and editorial director of FN .
He notes that while many new designers will proudly boast that they manufacture in the same factory as giants like Prada or Chanel, this relationship can sometimes backfire. “The problem is, as a little designer, they’re going to be at the bottom of the priority scale,” says Atmore. “You could be pushed aside, you will be plagued by all of the supply and demand issues this plant faces.”
For Chris Wichert, co-founder of shoe brand Koio, it took time and patience to find their factory. He recalled that he and his business partner had spent weeks traveling through Italy (alongside a friend who spoke Italian), meeting factories until they found the right partner who understood and appreciates their idea of luxury sneakers.
And for Lisa Cronin-Arida, Creative Director at Steve Madden, sometimes the answer is to work with multiple manufacturers depending on the type of shoe in the line. “Each factory most likely has its own specialty and each country has its own specialty,” she says. “China is really good at some things. India is excellent in other areas and Brazil is excellent in other areas. So when we put all of our ideas on paper, then we know where we’re going to send everything.