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R. Rathinamoorthy and R. Surjit


New Delhi

Published by Woodhead Publishing India Pvt. Ltd. Woodhead Publishing India Pvt. Ltd., 303, Vardaan House, 7/28, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110002, India

First published 2018, Woodhead Publishing India Pvt. Ltd. © Woodhead Publishing India Pvt. Ltd., 2018

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1 Introduction to merchandising


1.1 Introduction to apparel industry


1.2 Merchandiser in apparel industry


1.3 Roles of a fashion merchandiser


1.4 Role of a production merchandiser


1.5 Role of a retail merchandiser


1.6 Samples in apparel industry


1.6.1 Sampling process


1.6.2 Samples and their importance


1.7 Responsibilities of a merchandiser


1.8 Quality of a merchandiser


1.9 Merchandiser interface with other departments of apparel industry


1.10 Terminologies and abbreviations used in merchandising process


1.11 Summary




2 Forecasting and product development


2.1 Introduction


2.2 Line planning


2.3 Line development


2.3.1 Fashion forecasting process


2.3.2 Market research


2.3.3 Fashion research


2.4 Product development



Role of merchandiser in product development process


2.5 Line adoption


2.6 Apparel analysis process



Style description



Positioning strategy



Sizing and fit



Material specifications



Garment component assembly





2.6.7 Style presentation


2.6.8 Example of apparel analysis process:

Analysis of a “Polo T-Shirt”


2.7 Customer profiling for apparel merchandisers



2.7.1 Customer profiling methods


2.7.2 Benefits of customer profiling







Appendix I


3 Merchandising planning and order execution


3.1 Introduction


3.2 Time and action plan for merchandisers


3.3 Development of time and action plan



3.3.1 Gantt chart


3.3.2 Network charts



Raw material consumption estimations


3.4.1 Fabric and yarn weight calculations


3.4.2 Size wise – Colour wise order quantity breakup identification


3.4.3 Yarn or fabric consumption calculations


3.4.4 Sewing threads – consumption calculation


3.4.5 Other raw material consumptions



Factory capacity planning


3.5.1 Sewing department capacity calculation – Line efficiency and capacity


3.5.2 Capacity calculation for other departments







4 Sourcing for merchandiser






Classifications of sourcing process



Sourcing strategies for decision-making



Sourcing process in an apparel industry



Role of merchandiser in sourcing process



Factors affecting sourcing process


4.6.1 Lead time


4.6.2 Minimum order quantity (MOQ)


4.6.3 Logistics facilities


4.6.4 Quality parameters


4.6.5 Sourcing costs





4.7.1 Supplier / vendor selection criteria


4.7.2 Supplier selection process


4.8 Types of supplier for apparel industry


4.9 Vendor / supplier evaluation


4.10 Vendor evaluation methods


4.11 Summary




5 Apparel costing for merchandiser


5.1 Introduction


5.2 Elements of cost



5.2.1 Material cost


5.2.2 Labour cost


5.2.3 Expenses


5.2.4 Overheads



Factors influencing the costing process



Calculation of fabric cost


5.4.1 Yarn cost calculation


5.4.2 Process cost calculation


5.5 Fabric cost calculation


5.6 Cost calculation inapparel production departments



5.6.1 Cutting department costs


5.6.2 Sewing department costs


5.6.3 Trimming and checking department cost


5.6.4 Packing department costs


5.6.5 Calculation of shipping and forwarding cost


5.7 Calculation of overall apparel manufacturing cost (Cut – Make – Trim/Pack and Shipping)


5.8 Summary




6 Export procedure and documentation



Export procedure



Terms of payment


6.2.1 Advance payment


6.2.2 Letter of credit (L/C)


6.2.3 Documents against acceptance


6.2.4 Documents against payment



Delivery terms


6.3.1 INCOTERMS 2010


6.3.2 INCOTERMS 2000



Export finance






Other initiatives




Pre-shipment inspection




Pre-shipment inspection agencies




Shipment modes



6.6.1 Types of load


6.6.2 Types of containers


6.6.3 Selection of freight forwarder



6.7 Export customs clearance procedure


6.8 Export documentation



6.8.1 Need for export documentation


6.8.2 Types of export documents


6.8.3 Commercial documents


6.8.4 Regulatory documents




Internal documents for merchandiser



6.9.1 Customer information


6.9.2 List of customer


6.9.3 Sample / pattern request form


6.9.4 Order review form


6.9.5 Order register (OCN)


6.9.6 Accessories indent form


6.9.7 Fabric indents cum cut planner


6.9.8 Yarn requisition form


6.9.9 Lap dip approval report


6.9.10 Photo sample / fit sample / size set report



Work order


6.9.12 Pre-production meeting form


6.9.13 Bulk fabric approval and trim card approval


6.9.14 Amendment form


6.9.15 Order status report


6.9.16 Customer feedback form









Annexure I



Communication skills for merchandiser


7.1 Communication


7.2 Process and elements of communication


7.3 Business communication


7.4 Objectives of business communication


7.5 Importance of business communication


7.6 Types of business communication




7.6.2 Informal communication


7.6.3 Communication in internal environment


7.6.4 Communication in external environment


7.7 Principles of good communication


7.7.1 7 C’s of communication


7.7.2 4 S’s of communication


7.8 Barriers in communication



Overcoming barriers in communication


7.9 Merchandiser and communication


7.10 Communication skills for a merchandiser


7.11 Improving communication skills of a merchandiser


7.11.1 Improving listening skills


7.11.2 Improving body language in communication


7.11.3 Improving writing skills


7.11.4 Improving presentation skills


7.11.5 Improving negotiation skills


7.11.6 Improving intercultural communication skills


7.11.7 Improving skills to conduct meetings effectively


7.11.8 Improving speaking skills


7.12 Cases to understand importance of communication for a merchandiser


7.13 Summary







This volume on the subject of ‘Apparel Merchandising’ is a valuable reference book for those interested in any phase of Apparel manufacturing and business. The authors Dr. R. Rathinamoorthy and Mr. R. Surjit have done a commendable job in bringing out this book which gives a complete insight on the subject of merchandising for anybody right from an aspiring merchandiser to personnel involved in the apparel supply chain. The Global Apparel and Textile business is valued at around $3000 billion which is 2% of the world’s gross GDP and as of 2014 approximately 57.8 million people are employed in the Apparel and Textile industries. There is a requirement of a systematic approach in the subject of Merchandising, as it requires creativity, fashion sense, business acumen, commercial knowledge, trouble-shooting abilities, logistics knowledge, in- depth understanding of a brand/customer and great communication skills. There are 3 key important points which play a very important role in the supply chain which are Quality, Price and Service. A merchandiser plays a very important role in which he connects all the dots in the organisation for a successful product delivery with right price, right quality and at the right time. This book covers all the key points needed for the making of a good merchandiser. I would like to appreciate both the authors for bringing out this book on a very important subject of Merchandising and I am sure this will enhance the development of the readers and in turn produce a quality approach towards merchandising.

Wishing good luck.

a quality approach towards merchandising. Wishing good luck. Suresh Balram. Senior Manager – Ralph Lauren Corporation,

Suresh Balram. Senior Manager – Ralph Lauren Corporation, India.


“Apparel Merchandising” book has been written keeping in mind the

requirements of students, academicians and industry personnel with respect

to the merchandising activities in an apparel company. Merchandising is one

of the major contributing departments in the apparel industry. Merchandiser is the one who communicates and connects the apparel manufacturing units with the buyers. The main role of merchandiser in the industry is to co-ordinate, communicate and complete any particular job inside and outside the manufacturing unit. The merchandising department also performs few important cost related activities in the manufacturing firm along with marketing department. Hence, the merchandiser should also have knowledge on product pricing and costing of apparel products. This book gives wholesome knowledge on the above aspects of merchandiser. When we initially handled this subject for undergraduate students, we found many hurdles in collecting information for the students. Despite the

availability of few academic books in the market, we found lot of practical aspects in merchandising process missing which are particularly followed in Asian countries. They remained unexplored or were not explained clearly. In the perspective of educating undergraduate level students, we have been

a part of several industrial trainings and industrial collaborative work to

understand the real time industrial responsibilities of merchandiser. The main intention of the book is to provide detailed real time job responsibilities of an apparel industry merchandiser from communicating and receiving order to dispatching the goods from the export house leading to maintenance of a healthy relationship with the buyer. In this context, the book discusses about the different job responsibilities of the merchandiser at the varied stages of order execution from the buyer contact to dispatch. Further, the chapters also detail the different sampling procedures followed in industry to get product approval. The activities of the merchandiser starting from design to product development and then product development through apparel analysis is explained in depth. The raw material

consumption calculations at different stages of the product development like, yarn, fabric, sewing thread, trims, accessories and packaging material are provided with illustrative examples for better understanding. The order planning activity by analysing the factory or individual department capacity planning process is explained. The sourcing activity of the merchandising process is discussed with details about the various sourcing hubs in the apparel world.



The costing process of the apparel product is explained in depth for the better understanding with lot of worked out problems. The costing activity at different departmental levels are explained along with the overall cost sheet preparation for an order. The internal and external documents required for export and import activity is described with sample documents. The importances, requirements of those documents along with their content details are illustrated. Last but not the least, the communication skillsrequired for a merchandiserare elaborated. We believe that this book will be a useful tool for all the budding technocrats, academicians and industry personnel to carry out the merchandising activities in an apparel company

Dr. R. Rathinamoorthy Mr. R.Surjit


Introduction to merchandising

This chapter deals with the various processes in apparel industry along with their importance in the apparel manufacturing. This particular chapter ex- plains the various roles and responsibilities of the apparel merchandising process in different aspects, as a fashion merchandiser or as a production merchandiser or as a retail merchandiser. This chapter also enlightens the in- teraction of merchandiser with other departmental activities of an apparel in- dustry to idealise the job profile of the merchandiser over other positions. The final part of the chapter details various terminologies and abbreviations used in the merchandising process in detail.

1.1 Introduction to apparel industry

The Indian apparel industry is one of the leading industrial sectors in the world. Primarily it was quite unorganised but the scenario has been changed with time. It was mainly started after the economic liberalisation of Indian economy in 1991. The opening up of the economy gave the much-needed thrust to the Indian apparel industry, which has now successfully become one of the largest in the world. It has made a major contribution to the econ- omy of the country in terms of direct and indirect employment generation and net foreign exchange earnings. The sector contributes about 14% to industrial production, 4% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and 17% of the country’s export earnings. It also provides direct employment to over 35 million people. Nowadays, the increasing technical demand and requirements from apparel industry attracts a lot of engineering students and technologists towards the industry. This increases the requirements of standardised job responsibilities in industries. Previously while the industry functioned as an unorganised sector, the situation was like everyone performed all the jobs. This lead to improper follow-up and chaos in the process. After 1991, more international buyers stepped into Indian apparel industry than before. This improved the basic requirements of the industry like becoming more organised than before. The industry started focusing more on the customer needs and wants. Currently, the apparel sector has improved a lot with organised roles and responsibility.


Apparel Merchandising

Typically, the apparel industry process flow starts from the process of getting an order from the buyer by the merchandiser. The process from fab- ric sourcing to dispatch of the goods to the customer is handled by different people with different responsibilities. Figure 1.1 represents the operational hierarchy of an apparel industry and Figure 1.2 represents the process flow of apparel industry.

igure 1.2 represents the process flow of apparel industry. Figure 1.1  Operational hierarchy of an apparel

Figure 1.1 Operational hierarchy of an apparel industry

1.2 Merchandiser in apparel industry

Merchandiser in an apparel industry is the person who is involved in man- aging the buyers and their orders by taking care of the garment business in his/her concern. He oversees the manufacturing activities of the company to ensure timely delivery of right quality and quantity. The term was derived from the word “Merchandise”. With specific reference to the Indian indus- try, a garment merchandiser is a person who buys raw materials, accessories for producing required garments and exports them to the buyers in differ- ent countries within the stipulated time period. Since this particular job deals with the two extremes of the apparel hierarchy, merchandiser always plays a vital role in the performance of apparel industry. Merchandising forms an effective liaison with the buyers. Merchandiser identifies and develops po- tential new buyers and buying houses. The term merchandising means sim- ply to buy and sell commodities for a profit. The role of merchandiser varies depending upon whether that particular company is performing in retail or manufacturing context. Merchandising involves the conceptualisation, devel- opment, procurement of raw materials, sourcing of production and delivery of product to buyers. The merchandiser must combine logical and analytical thinking with initiative and expressive creativity. A merchandiser must be a part designer, part engineer, part computer ex- pert, part marketer, and part business management guru and part entrepre- neur. According to theory on merchandising, Myer defines merchandising as “Careful planning, capable styling and production or selecting and buying,

Introduction to merchandising


Introduction to merchandising 3 Figure 1.2  Process flow of an apparel industry

Figure 1.2 Process flow of an apparel industry


Apparel Merchandising

and effective selling”. By this definition, the primary mission of today’s mer- chandisers seems unchanged. In other words, merchandiser must be able to involve in all company functions that result in creation, development, exe- cution, and delivery of product line such as materials management, planning and control, market knowledge, product development, production authorisa- tion, interface with sales, sourcing and interface with manufacturing global textile industry. Overall a merchandiser must possess a rare blend of traits, skills and experience. In general, the merchandisers or the merchandising activity in an apparel industry can be classified into three broad categories as shown in Figure 1.3.

into three broad categories as shown in Figure 1.3 . Figure 1.3  Types of merchandising process

Figure 1.3 Types of merchandising process / merchandisers

1.3 Roles of a fashion merchandiser

Fashion merchandising process involves in the design creation and product development process. This fashion merchandising process starts from differ- ent origins.

i) The buyer might have visited different countries and various fashion shows across the globe and brought his inspirations in terms of pic- tures and garments.

ii) The buyer might have given a broad trend or theme to the merchan- diser and designer to develop a garment. In both the cases, at a given situation the designer can work on de- veloping different aspects of forecasting process, developing mood board, silhouettes, colour board and requirement. But it is merchan- diser’s role to coordinate with the designer about the needs and re- quirements of the buyer based on his previous experience. Hence, the influence of the merchandiser in the apparel designing plays a vital role in the acceptance of the developed design.

Introduction to merchandising


sector and marketing region. This will help them in developing pro- totypes at the design development stage. The typical process flow of a fashion merchandiser is given in Figure 1.4.

flow of a fashion merchandiser is given in Figure 1.4 . Figure 1.4  Work flow of

Figure 1.4 Work flow of a fashion merchandiser

1.4 Role of a production merchandiser

Production merchandiser is a person who communicates with the buyer and the primary occupation is to accomplish the work according to the necessity of the customer and dispatch the completed products to the buyer’s destina- tion on time. He/she interacts and coordinates different jobs which are dis- cussed in Table 1.1.


Apparel Merchandising

Table 1.1 Roles of apparel merchandiser in an apparel industry


Role of the merchandiser

Proto sample

This is the first stage in which the buyer will enquire with the merchant about the new order

order enquiry

Forwarding tech

When the order enquiry has been done, then the buyer will send a


“Tech Pack” or technical specification sheet to the merchant. Tech pack includes all the details of a style and which includes the items as follows:


Product style design



Style code

Surface ornamentation details, etc.


It is one of the important jobs of the merchandiser. Once the ‘Tech Pack’ is received, the merchandiser will arrange the tech pack details in a format by dividing various styles and its de- tails of the garment



He advises the junior merchandisers regarding the specifica- tion details and requirements of the buyer

This will help the junior merchandisers to assist the sampling department manager / coordinator

The sample is developed based on the requirements of the customer. The effective communication between the different levels of people plays a vital role in sample development

Approval of the developed sample

After the sample development, 2–3 samples are sent to the buyer for approval of the style

The main objective of the development sample is, the buyer will understand how the garment style looks with the specific details / they will estimate the manufacturer’s capacity and ability to pro- duce the sample for their line

The samples are prepared with the available fabric in store which closely resembles the exact requirement. This will help the buyer to understand the manufacturer’s ability. Sometimes, to receive the order, the merchandiser also develops the sample with original fabric

In sample development, surface ornamentations and fit are fol- lowed as per the tech pack. If some correction is to be done then the buyer will send the correction details and again the samples are reworked / developed again and sent to the buyer. This process will be continued till the sample gets approved


Once the sample approval is received from the buyer, then the merchandiser will perform the garment costing

It is done by calculating various costs incurred to make a gar- ment style. It consists of various factors like:

Fabric cost

Trims and accessories cost


Washing or finishing cost

Bank charges

Buffer value

Miscellaneous costs like rejection cost, wastage, etc.

Introduction to merchandising


Order placement

Based on the finalised pricing value, the costing “quote” will be sent to buyer. The price quote provided by the company is not necessary to be accepted by the buyers and there will be a negotiation between both the parties

Once final costing or re-costing is done and the same is accept- ed by the buyer, the buyer will place the order with the required order quantity and other main details to the merchant




Once the order is accepted by the buyer, the order will be



placed officially to the particular manufacturing firm


Immediately merchandiser will place the order for required raw materials like fabric, trims, accessories, etc. as per the co- lour, GSM, weave, quantity, quality, etc. which is required for the style

The merchandiser will also forward the requirement sheet to the purchase department by advising them to place orders with the suppliers

Lab dip

The first process after the order acceptance is lab dip where the merchandiser will send the samples of dyed fabric to the buyer for colour analysis

The submission of fabric/ lab dip includes many shades of the colour which the buyer has asked for the garment

The lab dip approval is the critical process, this process will be continued till the shades get approved from the buyer. This approved shade will be used for the bulk dyeing of fabric for final garment production

Fit sample


After the approval of lab dip from the buyer, the first sample for the provided specification is developed by the company which is known as FIT sample


This sample generally developed with the actual fabric or available fabric close to the buyer requirement will be used. The sample generally will be developed for a medium size. The main objective of this sample is to check the fitOnce the sample is submitted, the buyer evaluates the sample measure- ments, fit aspects and they will give feedback to the merchan- diser for revision

The buyer returns fit approvals sheet which contains all the ac- tual measurements and required measurements and how much deviation has occurred for the purpose of correction

Totally three pieces are made, all of which are sent to the buyer and sent back to merchandiser after approval. Once this is ap- proved, the order is confirmed


Once the fit samples are approved, then the pre-production


(PP) samples or the red seal samples are made. PP sample will have all the specific details of the style with the exact fabric, colour, trims, surface, ornamentations, etc.


The sample developed plays a vital role in the order confirma- tion process because this is the main step where the sample has to look exactly as per the buyer’s requirement. Around 2–3 samples (in four sizes each) are sent to buyer for the approval and buyer can advise any corrections if required


Apparel Merchandising

Size set samples

Till the pre-production sample, the sample may be prepared in the sample department of the company. But after this stage for the size set sample, mostly the buyer recommends the mer- chandiser to produce in the actual manufacturing unit

Size set samples are made for the purpose of checking the dif- ferent sizes of the same style in terms of fit, measurements, styling, etc.

It is also made to check whether the assigned unit is able to produce that style as per the specs. Three sets are made for all sizes. It is done in original fabric


Once all the samples are approved and all raw materials are

meeting (PPM)

ready in the store to start the bulk production, the pre-produc- tion meeting will be arranged by the merchandiser


Pre-production meeting will be conducted with all the depart- ment heads and important personnel of the company to plan the process, so that delay can be avoided

Here the merchants will discuss with the production heads on how the production can be scheduled and done within the required time. So this meeting is important and inevi- table

Forwarding of

Production file is a document which includes all the details

production file








prepared by the

to production

merchandiser. Production file is forwarded to PPC (production

planning and

planning and control) once the PP sample is approved, along


with the file, merchandiser will forward the approved PP

sample also. Some of the details in the production file include the following items:




Export order sheet

Colour details

Style description

Packing type

Print/embroidery instructions, material requirement sheet category, item, position, colour, size, consumption, unit in kilograms, quantity, total quantity

Job details for computer aided patter making (lectra) and fabric order

Marker plan


TNA order sheet

2D style diagram and trims


Packing information


Checking the availability of fabrics and trims

Once the file is received by the PPC, they will check and study each and every detail in the file and they will also check the availability status of the fabric and trims in the store. They will follow-up on the same if it’s not yet reached in the house

Checking the surface ornamentation of the particular style

Surface ornamentation may include embroidery, printing or appli- qué and these are done as per the buyer’s requirement, so PPC will check the ornamentation details and plans according to that and in parallel arrange all the required things for the same

Introduction to merchandising


Checking the status of stitching materials in-house

Stitching materials are those which are used for sewing like threads and accessories which assist production so in parallel they will do the arrangement for the stitching materials in-house

Checking the

Production file includes all the details about the patterns and

patterns with

merchants will forward the original patterns along with the


production file to the PPC


Once they receive the patterns, they will forward the patterns to the pattern master and master will cross check the pattern with the actual and confirm

Grading and final cross check

Once everything is checked and confirmed by the master then, the pattern is forwarded to the CAD (computer aid design) de- partment for grading. Grading is a process of making different sizes from a basic size

When the file is forwarded to PPC, only one size pattern will be provided and grading is done for other sizes. Finally, the graded pattern will be cross checked and confirmed with the master

Laying and cutting

Laying is a process in which a huge lot of fabric lots are laid flat in several plies as per the marker plan’s length

In this process, based on the order quantity, the length of the lay, the number of lays and the type of the lay to be spread will be instructed by the production planning department. After laying the pattern, the developed pattern lay-out obtained from the marker plan is used to cut the materials


After cutting, the cut fabrics are sent to washing if the program requires or else it can be directly passed to next stage like print- ing or embroidery

During the washing, the merchandiser should monitor the quality requirements and ensure proper delivery requirements in terms of both quantity and time

Bit printing/

When the garment wash is finished, then the bundles will


be sent for printing/applique/embroidery if the style de-




Surface ornamentation is done on cut pieces rather than in full garment. This is because it reduces the risk of spoiling the whole garment if some defects occurred during printing or so. If defect happens in cut pieces that can be replaced, then less fabric wastage happens

Loading in line

Once the surface ornamentation process is over on cut piec- es, the pieces will be bundled and passed to sewing depart- ment. Here the merchandiser needs to follow-up on the correct schedule of the loading

If any delay occurs, it is merchandiser’s responsibility to get the targets on the date. He should take remedial mea- sures to overcome the shortfall on the production in differ- ent means


Apparel Merchandising


Once the whole garment is stitched and collected in the end of the line, then the same will be forwarded to the finishing section

In finishing section, the garments will be checked for defects, loose threads are trimmed and pressed with steam and then packed as per the requirement

In each point, the merchandiser should coordinate with the pro- duction in charge and he should make sure that the customer’s requirements were obtained without any deviations


Dispatch is the end process in which the garments are packed in the cartons and shipped

It is merchandiser’s responsibility to check the availability of required documents for logistics and shipping process

1.1 Primary Roles of the Merchandiser

1.1 Primary Roles of the Merchandiser

1.5 Role of a retail merchandiser

Retail merchandising is another type of merchandising activity, which happens at the end of the hierarchy. Here the retail merchandiser sells products in less quantities and he/she act as an intermediary between the ultimate consumers and wholesalers. A retailer merchandiser is both a marketer and a customer handler. He creates the place, time and facilities

to sell the goods. The generalised responsibilities of the retail merchandis- ers are as follows:

Introduction to merchandising


in their sector. The general analysis in terms of following factors is performed.

• The geographical location of the store

• The population content of the area

• The social activities that the area offers

• The economical conditions and level of the local population

The fashion influences of the particular population.

ii) Image of the retail store The retail merchandiser will understand their target customers and try to work for developing some reputed image of the retail outlet in the consumers mind.

iii) Merchandise transaction The merchandisers’ another responsibility is to buy the mer- chandise and stock merchandise for different seasons. It re- quires a lot of planning for budget, selection of merchandise and selection of suppliers. Also, it is important to decide on the quality of the goods to be ordered. After the goods are received and checked, then it should be marked or tagged and kept in stock for sales.

iv) Display Based on the research work and understanding about the customer and their buying capacity, the retail merchandiser will decide the ef- fective ways to display and attract the customers. Good display al- ways enhances the sales of the store and a poor display may slow the sale of good merchandise. The store’s image is based on the princi- ple of use of space for display.

v) Promotion activities Sales promotion is very much important to the successful sale of merchandise. Sales promotion refers to the promotion of the sale of merchandise, services or ideas. It includes activities like advertising, publicity, visual displays, fashion shows, special events, personal selling, etc.

vi) Sales evaluation The retail merchandiser evaluates the sales rate of the product after every selling season. This includes analysing the sales by product wise, style wise, size and colour wise, unsold items, fast sold goods, price line wise, etc.

The general process flow of the retail merchandising process is pro- vided in Figure 1.5.


Apparel Merchandising

12 Apparel Merchandising Figure 1.5  Work flow of a retail merchandiser 1.6 Samples in apparel industry

Figure 1.5 Work flow of a retail merchandiser

1.6 Samples in apparel industry

Sampling process in the apparel industry is an important activity for the order acceptance. The main purpose of the sampling process is

• To allow the buyer to judge the production capabilities of the manufacturer.

• To provide a means for making revisions in the bulk production process.

• To let the manufacturer estimate the thread and fabric consumption, and develop cost quotations.

Since the buyer generally places the order after getting satisfied with the qual- ity of the samples, this process is considered to be a vital one. The sampling process is generally performed in the apparel industry by a separate department with skilled labours since the process decides the order acceptance factor. The merchandiser is the person who coordinates with buyer and sampling department. Hence, all his communications need to be understood clearly in the sample development process. In general, the buyer will place the order based on the manufacturer’s performance in the sampling process. The sampling process is a milestone activity in order con- firmations. It acts as a decision-making process in apparel industry, there will not be any compromise in the sample development process and the company will spend a quantum of the amount to develop the sample.

Introduction to merchandising


1.2 Bit Loom vs Lab Dip

• Bit loom is a kind of fabric development sample. Normally yarn dyed fabric swatches (samples) are called as Bit loom.Solid coloured or solid dyed fabric swatches (samples) are called as Lab dips.

• To develop fabric design that is made with dyed yarns (checks or stripes) a sample development loom is used (electronic or manual loom). In this loom the fabric is not made in full width (regular). Only required width and sufficient length is produced to represent fabric look. The purpose of using bit loom is to show the fabric design to the buyer for final look of the fabric without spending much time in fabric preparatory processes and with minimum cost for fabric development.

of the fabric without spending much time in fabric preparatory processes and with minimum cost for

The process of sample department varies continuously, and the development process will cover a wide range of unique products. There are three distinctive phases of sampling process; the first phase covers the development of the initial concept or design idea and getting the approval by the customer or to undertake the buyers’ requirement and their target segments to develop the theme and prod- uct. The second phase covers the process of prototyping of sample and carry out the functions of sourcing and ordering component, testing the product and carry out trials based on the finalised sample specifications. The third and final phase includes a range of activities that are carried out before large scale or bulk pro- duction capacity outside the producer/developers if needed.

1.6.1 Sampling process

The process of developing sample varies from industry to industry based on the buyer’s requirement and the style / type of the garment they are dealing with. However, most of the sampling terminologies and process are commonly requested by all the buyers. The typical process flow of sampling department activity is provided below in Figure 1.6. It is essential to understand that there is no necessity to perform all these processes for any single order. Based on the needs and requirements of the customer, the steps can be selected.


Apparel Merchandising

14 Apparel Merchandising Figure 1.6  Sampling process in an apparel industry

Figure 1.6 Sampling process in an apparel industry

Introduction to merchandising


1.3 Knit Down – Sample

A Knit down sample is used to demonstrate or present the specific color combos, yarns, stitches and/or pattern in a design. The knit-down is often used for approval purposes.

• Knit-downs are required when ordering a new yarn for sampling. The design team will use the knit downs as a sample for their fabric selec- tion process during the prototyping process. Knit-downs are generally requested in 12 x 12 inch size.

1.4 Mock-up Sample

• Mock-ups are partial garments or detail panel to show construction parameters or factory production capability. They are used by design team for reference during initial design stages or at buyer meeting.

1.6.2 Samples and their importance

As mentioned in the previous section, samples plays a vital role in the ac- ceptance of production orders, hence, it is essential to understand their im- portance and requirements. This helps a merchandiser to think advance and plan the subsequent activities. Table 1.2 represents the various samples used in apparel industry and their importance.

Table 1.2 Samples and their importance



Developed sample

• The first sample developed by the company based on the buyers requirement

• The sample generally used to assess the look and take a decision on the sample whether to proceed or decline the particular style out of the line

• The developed sample needs to be submitted within 45 days from the first communication

Proto sample

• Based on the comments from the development sample, the proto sample is developed

• The proto sample is the sample where the company submits the requirement using exactly the same fabric and trims or available fabric with accessories

• The buyer evaluates the capacity and quality of the factory based on this sample

• To develop proto sample, the buyer needs to specify the following details like the technical specification for the garment, paper pattern (sometimes), development sample (optional), detailed instructions about print/embroidery or appliqués

• This sample needs to be submitted by merchandiser within 7–10 days. The merchandiser needs to submit at least 4–6 samples based on the buyer requirement. If corrections received, they need to resubmit the proto sample


Apparel Merchandising

Fit sample

• A fit sample is used to evaluate the garment fit against a dummy or live model. This sample helps the buyer to understand the company and merchandiser and the clarity of their understanding about their requirements

• The sample is developed in original fabric required for that particular order. Most of the time all the sizes are sent to the buyer to measure the fit

Size set sample

• To check the fitness of the sample, size wise size set samples are asked. Hence, 2–3 garments in all the size are prepared with original or proximate fabric to send to the buyer

• It is merchandiser’s responsibility to make sure that the samples match the customer requirements

• If sizes are more in number, then the buyer may ask to skip some sizes, called jump size set sample. The samples can be made in the sampling room or in actual production floor, as required by the buyer. Bulk cutting of fabric for production should start only after size-set sample gets approved

• Once the buyer is satisfied with every aspect of it, they seal the sample and send it to the garment manufacturer as a symbol of understanding between them that they are satisfied with the product and want the manufacturer to make this product only in the bulk. These samples are called “Red sealed sample” and they are often used at the final inspection stages by the quality checkers representing the buyer

Strike-off sample

Generally, buyer places an order of any style in different shades of fabrics. Size set is made in any one colour. But if the garment has embroidery and printing over it, then garment manufacturer must take approval of print colours and sizes/ embroidery colours, appearance, thread and sizes on each shade of the fabric. These print and embroidery approvals are known as strike-offs

Counter sample

• After the size set and fit sample approval, the counter sample is submitted for the buyer. The confirmation of this particular sample decides whether the company gets the order or not

• So, this sample is developed in all original fabric, trims accessories, sewing threads, care labels, etc.

• Based on the counter sample approval, the buyer will raise purchase order (PO) to the company

Ad or photo shoot sample

• These samples are requested only if buyer is in need of samples to promote their styles in media like TV ads, promotional clippings, catalogues, etc.

• These samples are sent based on the size requests from the buyer

Sales man / Marketing / Showroom sample

• The main purpose is to display the next season styles in the current season to get the feedback from the customers

• These samples are also used to get orders from the retailers


• This sample is requested only if the technical parameters of the garments need to be checked where the garment performance is measured in terms of shrinkage, colour fastness, seam performance, etc.

• Normally GPT process will be done parallel to the size set sample but most of the buyers ask for this sample only with the acceptance of order

performance test

(GPT) sample

• These tests are generally performed by the third party inspection agencies like SGS, Intertek and other private testing services

Introduction to merchandising



• Pre-production samples are the pilot run sample, before starting the production; the sample is prepared with the original fabric and all actual requirements

• Acceptance of this sample encourages the factory to start the bulk manufacturing of the goods

(PP) sample

Wash sample

• Wash sample is made and submitted to the buyer for assessment of feel and handle of fabric after washing (if it is needed)

• Either at size set stage or PP stage, washing sample is sent to the buyer for approval. Based on the buyer comments, the merchandiser needs to continue the production

Top of production (TOP) sample

• The top of production is sent to the buyer as soon as initial pieces come out of sewing line with suggestions of quality audit department. In TOP sample, buyer tries to evaluate the actual manufacturing of the style

• Buyer checks whether bulk production is as per submitted sample or not. TOP sample is also checked by the buyer for the packaging also

Shipment sample

• Few buyers may ask for the shipment samples which factory needs to pull from the actual shipment and sent to them. The main purpose of this sample is to assure buyer about the actual shipment dispatch

• Sometimes the buyer also asks these samples for their future reference, hence, all the shipped samples are directly dispatched to the warehouse in the different / same country. This sample will be with complete packing details like tags, poly bag, hangers, etc.

1.7 Responsibilities of a merchandiser

Over the years of the growth of merchandising as a discipline in the apparel export industry, there have been many changes in the job profile of the ap- parel merchandiser to perform these functions. It has changed from a sim- ple to a much more complex job transcending almost all departments and functions in an apparel export house. This has led to a change in the skills required for the job and evolution of the discipline of export merchandis- ing. Merchandising has been to a large extent, a function which was neither clearly defined nor distinctly performed in the apparel export industry. On one hand, the merchandiser had the job of getting orders and executing them; doing the role of production coordinator in the same breadth. However, the general essential responsibilities of a merchandiser are as follows:

• Identify and analyse the requirements of the customers and materi- alise the product as they expect by proper communication with each and individual department of the apparel industry.

• It is the sole responsibility of the merchandiser to ensure the exact quality and timely delivery of the product to the customer.

• Merchandiser should understand the existing infrastructure, quality norms and capabilities of the plant. This will help the merchandiser to cost the product compatible.


Apparel Merchandising

• After accepting an order, it is essential for the customer to review the capacity of the company, hence they ask for samples and prototype. It is the job of merchandiser to convince the customer and get the order.

Creating a TNA (Time and Action) calendar for fixing schedules for various activities like cutting, sewing, dispatch, etc. and each and every small action need to be carried out as his/her special roles.

• The delivery at the right time, at the right place and a right cost is the mantra of the merchandiser. So he or she needs to update the order status regularly to view at any point in time daily to have a better hold on the schedule.

• Coordinates and tracks the sourcing activities and make sure that all the raw materials are delivered on time.

• The communication and effective delivery of each and every order help the company and merchandiser to have a healthy relationship with the buyer/customer for a long-term business.

• Identifying the problems and helping the production facility by aid- ing suitable information whenever they require.


Quality of a merchandiser

• Good command of English and adequate knowledge of technical terms for accurate and efficient communication.

Good knowledge of yarn, fabric, dyeing, printing, finishing, dyeing colour fastness, garments production, etc.

• A clear conception of the usual potential quality problems in the gar- ments manufacturing.

• Good knowledge of the usual raw materials inspection systems and garments inspection systems.

• Knowledge of the quota system used in each of the producing coun- tries, duty rate, customs regulation, shipping and banking documen- tation, etc.


Merchandiser interface with other departments of apparel industry

The merchandiser’s job with other departments of apparel industry is more complicated than the other workers in industry. Hence, he is the only per- son communicating with buyers, his role extends each departments activity

Introduction to merchandising


in one or another way. For most of the manufacturing oriented department, he or she needs to provide adequate information regarding the production requirements.

i) Industrial Engineering or Production Planning department

Once the order confirmed, the merchandiser instructs either PPC or IE (Industrial Engineering) department regarding the requirements of the order like order quantity, garment work content, lead time and delivery date, etc.

• The merchandiser mentions the milestone dates like sourcing, cut- ting initiation, etc. This will help the planning department to work on the calculations like capacity available, line scheduling date, etc.

The garment technical specification details like seams required, spe- cial finishes required will be provided to these departments. This will help them to calculate the expected time delays in the different pro- cess and plan accordingly.

• After providing necessary information to the PPC and IE depart- ment, the merchandiser receives the following information from the PPC / IE department.

i) Capacity plan for the next order

ii) Factory availability

iii) Raw material availability

iv) Consumption details of various raw materials like sewing thread, fabric, trims, etc.

v) Line planning details like operation bulletin, line layout, etc.

vi) They also inform the technical issues which can be faced dur- ing the order processing like critical point, bottleneck situation, etc.

The planning department also provides details like the expected produc- tion quantity per day in each department based on their previous knowledge. This will help the merchandiser to prepare his / revise his time and action plan accordingly to achieve the exact delivery date.

ii) Sourcing / Purchase department

• Based on the information received from the planning department, the merchandiser will advise the purchase department to purchase the required raw materials and their quantity.

• The merchandiser instructs the quality details required for each items strictly and in some cases he/she also specifies the place to be purchased either based on their own experience or by the buyers’ requirements.


Apparel Merchandising

• He/she advices the department in charge about the earliest and latest target dates and details to source that raw material.

In return, merchandiser receive details from sourcing department,


The changes in the stock materials


Possible expected delivery date of that raw material and availability


Expected quality problems in any material


Issues related to transportation and logistics.


Quality audit department

The merchandiser issues the garment measurement specification sheets to the quality department, which carries the measurement specification of those specific styles for every size.

The merchandiser also handovers all the garment requirements like shade requirement, quality of trims and accessories, artwork or print or embroidery details, placement, print strike-off, wash details, care label details and packing instructions.

This helps the quality audit department to educate their quality con- trollers to monitor the production process.

The merchandiser also advices the departments regarding the other specifications mentioned by the customer. For example Matching Stripes, Closing raw edges in the inner seams, etc.

Merchandiser also decides the quality audit inspection level (AQL) in consultation with the quality manager.

1.5 Colour Matching - Labdips

Colour matching is one of the most crucial quality check, where the company loses a lot of money. To evaluate the colour shades of the developed fabric with the standard sample, different buyers / customers use different light sources, based on their requirements. The common visual colour evaluation process, the following light sources are used,

Artificial Daylight (D-65)

• Incandescent Light (Tungsten Filament)

• Fluorescent Lamps, Point of sale light (TL-84).

• Ultraviolet Black Lamp (UV)

Cool White Fluorescent, Office lighting (CWF)

In return from quality department A Merchandiser receives comments and feedback about the processing methods. This feedback will inform about the effect of quality of the prod- ucts or the effect on the production quantity due to the processing methods.

Introduction to merchandising


Hence, the merchandiser communicates this kind of feedback to the buyer and decides possible alternative method of performing that process without or with minimal changes for the products aesthetic and quality appeal.

iv) Production department

After order confirmation with the tentative production start date, merchandiser informs the production department about the forth- coming order and requirements.

• This information includes details like order quantity, style numbers, colour wise, size wise quantity requirements, expected output along with the delivery dates to be achieved.

• The delivery date details will be issued for each section of the pro- duction department like cutting, sewing, washing, finishing and packing. These details will help the concerned section managers to work for their target dates.

The merchandiser collects the following details from the production department:


Current order status


Approximate completion date


Delay in the process and possible delivery date for the current order


Details on delays influencing the forthcoming orders


Technical / Machine related requirements from the department

v) Finance / Accounts department

Once the planning and scheduling activities are completed, the merchandiser

consults with the finance manager before instructing the purchase department. Based on the received order, he informs the finance section about

a Raw material quality required and the cost factors

b The possible source of availability and the cost factor involved like whether local or import

c The available time for sourcing that material

d The least possible dates to get each and every raw material

Based on his/her request, the finance department advices the merchan- diser about the fund allocation for purchase and fund availability at the cur- rent state. This information will be passed to the purchase department.

vi) Marketing department

This department will play an active role only if the company develops the product. In that case, the merchandiser communicates the information like

a line concept

b product range


Apparel Merchandising

c colours

d other product details in the line

Based on this information, the marketing department conducts surveys, collects data using other data collection tools and performs researches and informs the merchandiser with the details on

a Exact target group

b Target region – demography based or geography based, etc.

c Estimated season of sale

d Market potential

e Competitor

f Average price preferred, etc.

This information is so subjective and can be collected based on the re- quirements. This will help the merchandiser to get the confidence and choose selected products from the line and launch into the market.

vii) Designing department

• The merchandiser closely works with the design department in both the cases where the company develops the product or the company performs the requirement asked from the buyer.

In the first case, the merchandiser will be aware of the market status and research report from the marketing department. Hence, he can guide the designer regarding the research results.

• In the second case, due to his prolonged communication with the buyer, the understanding about the buyer is high for the merchan- diser. Hence during the design development, his feedback or com- ments are valuable to the company and the designer.

viii) Human resource (HR) department

Once the order scheduling and time and action plans are completed, the mer- chandiser informs the following requirements to HR department:


Labour requirement


Approximate schedule


merchandiser will receive following data from HR department:


Labour availability


Company related issues


National and local holidays


Working hours – timing details


Other requirements if any


these information are very important for an order to be processed

successfully and delivered with the expected quality and on time. Hence, the

Introduction to merchandising


merchandiser/ merchandising department plays a vital role by communicating and coordinating with other departments of the apparel industry (Figure 1.7).

other departments of the apparel industry ( Figure 1.7 ). Figure 1.7  Merchandiser interface with other

Figure 1.7 Merchandiser interface with other departments of apparel industry

1.10 Terminologies and abbreviations used in merchandising process

It is essential to understand and know the meaning of few terminologies and abbreviations used in merchandising process. This will help the beginners to understand the process quickly. The important terminologies are as follows:

Accessories: A range of products that are designed to accompany items of clothing to complete an overall look. They are usually intended to be decora- tive. Common examples include ties, belts, bags, scarves, hats and jewellery.

Base fabric: All fabric, woven and knitted, needs to be approved for quality before it is used in garment construction. Fashion buyers give approval at two different stages referred to as “base” and “bulk” fabric approval. Base fabric is approved for stability and suitability for end used before the fabric is com- mitted for further development.


Apparel Merchandising

Bulk fabric: Refers to the completed fabric that is used in the make-up of garments. The fabric dyed to a specific colour, will often contain printed designs and possess certain “finishes” which provide it with specific benefits.

Buyer: A buyer for a fashion retail brand will be involved in a more complex buying process involving design, sourcing and production.

Buying team: The team of individuals that is responsible for planning and buying a specific range of merchandise within a fashion company. Usually, it consists of a buyer and merchandiser, together with their individual support staff. Normally a buying team will be product- or garment-specific although sometimes a team may be responsible for a range of products.

1.6 Buying House

Buying house work as intermediateries between the buyer and the ven- dor. 60-70% worldwide buying routes through the buying house. Buying office may be buyer’s regional office. These are situated predominantly at the vendor’s location Work on profit percentages/commissions. It is also an independent company that works with multiple buyers. Their major tasks are as follows:

It is also an independent company that works with multiple buyers. Their major tasks are as

Introduction to merchandising


Category: Sometimes called as “product group”, it is used to group together

garments or similar lines into one group. It ensures that a fashion retailer is able to quickly see how one type of group of lines is performing as a whole.

It helps in the monitoring of sales performance and for overall stock control.

CIF – Carriage, Insurance and Freight: The term refers to the agreement on the delivery of foreign goods that is included within the cost price. The cost price paid by the buyer includes transport of merchandise by vessel to a country specified by the buyer. It is up to the seller to arrange insurance and delivery of the merchandise within the price they agree.

CMT: “Cut, Make and Trim”. Generally used in the production of more complex or tailored garments, where a clothing manufacturer receives fabric owned by the retailer or another party to make up into a finished garment. The price paid for the process is only for the cutting, making up and provi- sion of items used to trim the garment. Colour way: A colour option of a product style.

COO – Country of Origin: Most products have the country in which they were manufactured recorded on a label attached to the garment. This is not, however, a legal requirement in the United Kingdom and most European countries. Cost price: The price paid for a product before a mark-up is added to achieve

a selling price. Generally, the cost price of a fashion product bought for resale by a retailer includes all tickets, hangers, protective covers and packaging. Transport to the retailer will be included according to different cost terms. Couture: Derived from the French word for “dress-making”, it generally re- fers to extremely individual and unique hand-made garments made in the stu- dios and workrooms of international high fashion designers. Designer: A person who is involved in a creative process, turning customer needs into value outcomes. Outcomes may range widely according to the specific role of the designer, but could include manufactured products, corpo- rate logos or packaging. Distribution centre (DC): A facility which redistributes products to retail outlets having received them as deliveries from suppliers. Fit: Refers to the suitability of the shape and size of a garment to a person. Principally concerned with comfort and appearance, although the latter can be very much influenced by styling trends. Fit model: A model, usually a size 12 in women’s wear, who tries on fit sam- ples in order that garment technologists and buyers can make appropriate ad- justments to prototype garments as part of the quality control process. FOB – Free on Board: This is a cost-price term which does not include com- plete delivery to the buyer in the cost price. The cost price includes delivery onto a vessel at a port in the country of manufacture. Subsequent insurance


Apparel Merchandising

and transportation of the merchandise from the port to the final destination is the buyer’s responsibility. Many fashion retailers prefer to use FOB as they can control the cost and lead-times associated with shipping to their country. Forecast: A view of where the business will be in the future based on the best known historic and current information. It can be applied to subjective issues such as fashion trends, but is more usually applied to the forward view of likely sales or stock levels. Forecasting is a regular merchandising task that helps to ensure that the business has the right balance and level of stock delivered in readiness for anticipated sales. Forward buying: Relates to the process of buying ahead to meet anticipated future sales and stock levels. The degree to which a buyer forward buys depends very much upon the length of the manufacturing process from conception to delivery. Hanging stock: Most garments delivered to a fashion business arrive from the manufacturer on hangers. This enables them to be immediately put out on the sales floor. This eases handling when delivering into the distribution cen- tre and then on to the shop. It has the advantage of reducing garment creasing prevalent with boxed deliveries. Inventory: A detailed list of stock or goods held. Inventory is sometimes used instead of the word “stock”. Lead-time: The period of time from design conception to delivery into re- tail stores. The definition of a lead-time may vary according to the particular stage in the supply chain which is being considered. For example, some buy- ers may refer to a manufacturing to store delivery lead-time, while another may refer to the shipping lead-time. Mark-down/Mark-up: Indicates a price movement either downwards or up- wards. Prices are reduced to make slow-selling merchandise sell more quickly, while price increases tend to reduce the rate of sale. Fashion businesses alter prices regularly to ensure that stock sells out at the planned rate. Fashion busi- nesses keep an on-going record of all mark-downs/make-ups taken throughout the course of the season/year. It is normally expressed as a percentage. Silhouette: The outline shape of a garment. Visual merchandising: The creative display of goods in-store and in win- dows. Historically, the term was specifically associated with window display. Atmospherics and visual marketing using sound and interactive technology have increased the overall sophistication of visual merchandising. UPC: Universal Product Code – Standard for encoding a set of lines and spaces that can be scanned and interpreted into numbers to identify a product. A sequence of numbers and bar code on the back of each product. OOS: Abbreviation for Out of Stock; item not available for sale at this time.

Introduction to merchandising


SKU: Abbreviation for stock keeping unit. Some SKU’s have more than one facing. Each SKU is associated with a different product on a planogram (POG) and is a number assigned by the retailer to keep track of the type, col- our and size of a product. UOM: Abbreviation for unit of measurement. Reserve stock: Merchandise that is stored in an area inaccessible by customers. Teck pack: Commonly known as technical specification sheet or order infor- mation sheet or spec. sheet. It is the collected data of a particular order with a full detailed description of that order. These details are either received from the buyer or developed by the merchandiser.



This chapter enlightens a detailed over views about who an apparel mer- chandiser is with his/her roles. And further it also mentions the other similar profiles that co-exists in the apparel industry like fashion and retail merchan- diser. The chapter also details the basic sampling procedures and various samples used in the apparel industries in detail. The merchandiser’s involve- ment and coordination with other departmental activities are also detailed in are chapter.


1. Namrata Anand, Vandana Khetarpal (2014), Growth of apparel industry in India:

2. Prashant G. Khandalkar, Role of merchandiser in garment industry, http://textile- (Accessed on 10th July 2015).

3. M. Janarthanan, S. Kathiresan (2011), Merchandising in an Apparel Industry. Textile review, July.

4. Vasant R. Kothari, Fashion Merchandising: Functions of Production Merchandiser, Bangladesh Textile today, (Accessed on 10th July 2015).

5. Vasant R. Kothari, Fashion Merchandising: Importance of Sampling, Bangladesh Textile today, (Accessed on 10th July


6. Prasanta Sarkar, Garment Manufacturing Process Flow Chart, (Ac- cessed on 10th July 2015).

7. Apparel Merchandising, parel-merchandising.html (Accessed on 10th July 2015).


Apparel Merchandising

9. Kathleen Fasanella, The 13 different kinds of samples, archive/the-13-different-kinds-of-samples/ (Accessed on 10th July 2015).

10. Saumitra Singh, Different Types of Samples in Any Garment Industry, http://fash- (Accessed on 10th July 2015).

DUSTRY_EXPORT_ORGANIZATION_Introduction_to_Apparel_Industry (Ac-

cessed on 10th July 2015).


Forecasting and product development

The main objective of this chapter is to depict the role of merchandiser in the product development process that is involved in the apparel product development. This chap- ter details the various steps involved in the apparel product development with respect to merchandisers’ view. Detailed examples provided in each step of the process will improve the ease of understanding. The apparel analysis and customer profiling pro- cess and their importance in merchandiser’s day-to-day activities are also described with examples.

Keywords: Merchandiser role, Forecasting, Product development, Apparel analysis, Customer profiling process.



The merchandising process differs for individual firms according to their product type, technology used in manufacturing and business strategies. In large firms, each requirement is given to specialised departments and experts to perform the act. So the role of merchandiser is more focused with respect to buyer communication and coordinating with each department of the firm. But in the case of small firms, the merchandiser has diverse roles and respon- sibilities to perform. The merchandisers in a small firm will be in a situation to perform line planning process, product development, position the product and finally presenting it to the customer or buyer. Hence this chapter is de- veloped by keeping these factors and problems faced by a small firm mer- chandiser in mind. The primary components of merchandising activity are depicted in Figure 2.1.

of merchandising activity are depicted in Figure 2.1 . Figure 2.1   Primary components of merchandising

Figure 2.1Primary components of merchandising activity


Apparel Merchandising

2.2 Line planning

The line planning is a process that guides line development and presenta- tion activity. This line planning process influences the sourcing and produc- tion process. In general, the line plan process defines the limits of the line. This line plan provides initial guideline to the design development team in a synopsis. The line plan focuses the efforts of design team in one cohesive direction by providing the details like number of styles, fabrics colours and sizes that should be developed for each product group. Rather than designers creating a new style in a vacuum, the line plan outlines the rules that point designers in the right course based upon the organisation’s marketing and merchandising objectives. Every season’s line plan meeting includes inputs from marketing, sales, manufacturing and finance department. The summary of line planning process is critical to get desired results from the line devel- opment process. The basic elements of line planning process summary were provided in Figure 2.2.

line planning process summary were provided in Figure 2.2 . Figure 2.2  Basic elements of line

Figure 2.2 Basic elements of line planning process

• The number of fabrics in the line by product group details the mer- chandise mix. The statistical data from the company’s history (for same selling period) can be used to decide the minimum order quan- tity for each fabric. This helps the merchandiser to use the raw ma- terials usefully. This statistical analysis helps them to understand the previous season’s sales rate of individual merchandise group, brand, style, colour and size.

Forecasting and product development


• The number of styles in the line by product group mentions the mer- chandise budget for merchandising plan. i.e., merchandisers base the number of styles upon estimated minimum sales per style. This af- fects the product development time, sampling and design cost.

• The number of construction in the line by product group represents the fabric wise, style wise, colour wise details of the product. Funda- mentally known as assortment. A balanced assortment plan matches the customer demands. Number of stock keeping units (SKU) de- cides the assortment varieties. This helps the merchandiser to evalu- ate the minimum number of colours, that affects the manufacturing and hence the overall production cost.

• The number of SKUs per product group includes the different size ratios i.e., it represents the fabric, style, colour along with the size details. This helps the merchandiser to base the SKUs for expected sales.

2.1 Fashion Terminologies

Apparel line: An apparel line consists of one large group or styles, devel- oped based on a theme such as colour, fabric and design details to meet a function such as cricket, golf or tennis that links the items together. Apparel collection: Apparel presented in each fall and spring by the high fashion designers in Paris, Milan, New York, and London. The designer collections include using range of apparel, including swimwear, suits, dresses, sportswear, evening wear, bridal wear, etc., it may include 100– 150 apparel items. Collections are highly expensive. Group: It might use 3–5 fabrics in varying combinations and include a dozen of apparel items, all carefully coordinated, collections / lines are di- vided into groups of garments. Six to eight groups in each line releases in each division. Each group has specific theme or concept. Style: A particular design, shape, or type of apparel item, defined by the distinct features that create its overall appearance. Design: An element or a component in a decorative composition.

2.3 Line development

Irrespective of the size of the company, the basic line development process consists of same elements at different levels. Figure 2.3 represents the basic steps involved in the line development process. Based on the product offering frequency, the company may work simultaneously on two or more lines at a time. However, the most difficult portion of this process is the skills and


Apparel Merchandising

ability of the designers and merchandisers to transform from one style/ con- cept to other more frequently. The merchandising department’s primary job is to translating the marketing needs into a saleable product and deliver to the consumers at the right place, at right time and at right price. As companies change their brand positioning, the merchandisers should perform their own research on different areas to accommodate the needs of their changing target markets. In the preliminary stages of line development process, the merchandiser can determine the characteristics of a market through various research, stud- ies or collection of data. This process is generally termed as forecasting. This forecasting process can be done in different sectors based on the needs. The success of forecasting relies on analysing the trends and developing these for individual markets at the right time and right place. Trends may be affected by social, cultural, political, and economic factors as well as evolutions in life style, technological developments, media and retailing.

in life style, technological developments, media and retailing. Figure 2.3  Process flow of a line development

Figure 2.3 Process flow of a line development process

Forecasting and product development


2.3.1 Fashion forecasting process

The fashion forecasting process is involved in the following research alto- gether or based on the needs of a selected sector can also be performed. The different types of research involved in the forecasting process are given in Figure 2.4.

in the forecasting process are given in Figure 2.4 . Figure 2.4  Classification of research involved

Figure 2.4 Classification of research involved in the forecasting process

2.3.2 Market research

Marketing research is defined as the “systematic and objective approach to the development and provision of information for the marketing manage- ment decision making process”. Consumer demand is the dynamic power in apparel industry. Hence, the industry expression “you can make it only if it sells” relates to the concept of the consumer driven market. Thus, the suc- cess of any apparel or textile company depends on determining the needs and wants of the consumer. This market research includes:

Consumer research

This research concentrates on giving data about customer state of mind and behaviour. Clothing purchase plans depend on the number of variables like psychological, social and economical considerations of which customers are not deliberately mindful. Some of the techniques used to know the purchasers are, survey i.e., addressing customers formally or casually, gatherings sorted out between typical target buyers. Buyer responses are arranged and clas- sified to discover inclinations for specific garments or accessories, colours, sizes and so on or preferences for particular retailers. This data can be utilised to make new product to fit particular buyer tastes.


Apparel Merchandising

Product research

This gives data about preferred product designs and attributes. This research helps us to break down the acceptance of any new item being presented in the business sector or any current item is re-presented with a couple of alter- ations. Couple of techniques that could be used to comprehend the status of product among the target buyers are:

• Survey: Conducting surveys orally to their regular consumers or send a questionnaire

• Free trial: Product can be offered free of cost in exchange for feed- back of the product

Style testing techniques: It is possible to predict how apparel con- sumers will react to a style

This technique is used to find out what consumers would like to buy

• Rating: Survey the subjects by asking them to rate preferences after seeing a garment, a photo or a swatch of a fabric in various patterns and colours.

Market segment analysis

It gives data about general market trends. This analysis deals with long and short range analysis. Long range forecasting: It incorporates inquiring about monetary patterns identified with customer’s spending patterns and the business atmosphere; it likewise incorporates sociological, psychological, political and worldwide patterns. For instance, increase in interest rate, corporate duty, ascends in av- erage cost for basic items costs because of inflation. These patterns can influ- ence the organisation’s plans and the customer’s future purchase behaviour, changes in international trade policies will influence long range forecasting. Political variances among nations can influence sourcing alternatives when arranging offshore production.

2.3.3 Fashion research

This research focuses on the fashion elements that includes the silhouette, colour, fabric, texture, trimmings and accessories.

Trend research

Trend research activities include reading or scanning appropriate trade pub- lications, fashion or general magazines. Fashion trend research is focused on general garment outline, more particular lengths, (e.g., shirt lengths, skirt lengths, trouser length), widths, (e.g., trouser leg width, lapel and bow tie width), and configuration of pattern elements, (e.g., basic yoke, level/shawl collars, roundabout unsettled collars).

Forecasting and product development


2.2 Trade Publications


• The Indian textile journal

• Asian textile journal

Home textile today

• Nonwoven technical textile

• Textile world

• Journal of textile association

• Asian dyer

• Journal of textile engineering

• Textile industry trade journal

• Textile Asia


• Apparel views

• Fiber 2 fashion

• Knitting views

• Apparel online

• Stitch world

• Colourage

• View

• Sportswear International

• Trends Magazine

• The sourcing journal

Trade publications: Trade publications are the newspapers and magazines that are specifically published for the industry personnel or professionals. Those publications will not be available in the general stores; it has to be sub- scribed formally from the prescribed publishers. These publications declares the latest developments in the industry in technical side, it provides latest business review reports, fashion shows, expo’s, trade shows and latest fash- ion trends from raw material to final product. This helps the fashion / apparel industry professionals to update their databank and knowledge to compete with changing market and competitors. Fashion magazines: Fashion magazines encase generous data about the most recent trends in silhouettes, colour, fabric, accessories, brands, etc. Based on their target market, designers and merchandisers follow-up suitable publica- tions and update their knowledge. The magazines are effectively accessible in common magazine stores. Trade shows: Specialised trade shows are held in various locations. Design- ers and merchandisers may attend these trade shows for fashion trend infor- mation as well. Fashion forecasting services: Some designers and retailers subscribe to fashion trend forecasting services that provide fashion trend reports. These reports help designers to analyse the upcoming fashion trends. These organ- isations update their database as per the current trend and they forecast the future fashion market based different criteria. Designers can log in and select the required forecasting reports based on their target customer and market requirements. This information is more reliable for designers since the cus- tomers also follow-up with the same services. There are several forecasting agencies in the market: WGSN, Promostyl, WWD, Trend watching, cotton Inc, stylesite are to name a few.


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Observing the high fashion: The more imperative and fascinating part of trend research includes seeing the high fashion couture and ready to wear collections in Paris, Milan, London and New York. Many apparel companies frequently depute their designers and merchandisers twice in a year to visit such international fashion shows. This gives an improved idea to the profes- sional to understand the following: What is going on in latest trend? What technologies are adapted? What kind of materials, trends, surface finishes are in trend? High fashion collections are mostly of Avant Garde (new explora- tory) styles. This high fashion styles and patterns or inspirations or motiva- tion can be extracted from the collections and can be changed for a tolerably estimated line suitable to their target market and customers.

2.3 Knock-offs or high street fashion

Lower priced copies of garments. They are produced in high quantity with lower priced materials. Copies of Haute Couture garments are made in quantity by high prices manufacturer they look like the original, but the price had been reduced.

Street fashion: Some designers and merchandisers also study consumers “on the street”. If their line is an active sportswear, they watch potential consum- ers on the ski scopes or at the beach for a resort wear. Shopping the market: Designers and merchandisers look for new trends that may influence the direction of upcoming line. One aspect of shopping the market involves visiting retail stores that carry the company’s line.

2.4 Haute Couture

“Finest Dress Making” in French. It refers to a group of firms or “Fashion house”, each with a designer who creates original, individually designed fashions. Haute couture fashions originate in Paris, New York, or other fashion centres. They are very expensive. They are constructed with expen- sive fabric, and include a great deal of hand work. They are sometimes; a. Custom designed made for a specific person. “Couture” means dress-mak- ing, sewing, or needlework and is also used as a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit. “Haute” means elegant or high. An haute couture garment is made specifically for the wearer’s measurements and body stance.

Forecasting and product development


Colour research

Colour research helps in determining the season’s colour. Websites like WGSN come up with seasonal barometer and colour matrix for the season which helps the designers to decipher the colours that will be suitable for the season. Colour forecasting is usually done for 18–24 months in advance. Companies like Pantone come up with their colour report by engaging a group of colour forecasters and designers to discuss and select the colour trend report for the upcoming seasons. Colour becomes one of the most im- portant criteria as consumers get attracted to colours at the first sight and then concentrate on the material aspects. Based on the colour forecasting, colour palettes are created and they act as the base for designers and merchandisers to transfer them on the fabrics to create latest fashion garments. Colour fore- casting in USA is done by “The Colour Association of the United States” and “Pat Tunsky”. European colour trend service is International Colour Trend Authority, based in Amsterdam. Promostyle is based in Paris, with subsidi- ary offices in New York, London and Tokyo. The colour in association with mood forms the base for creating novel products. The colour research process provides the outcome for the designer to develop a theme and concept to de- sign garments for the upcoming season.

Fabric and trimming research

In general, the designer or merchandiser performs the fabric or trimming re- search for new product development. For example, if the designers are work- ing for a sportswear, then they will search for information regarding the latest trends and fibres or structures used in the sports application. The required


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data can be extracted from the same trade publications as mentioned earlier. More specific trends can be noticed from the local and national wide trade shows and exhibitions held in various place where, the fibre, yarn and fabric manufacturers display their latest inventions or developments. This will help the apparel professional to achieve their requirement in a suitable way.

2.6 Garment Trade Fairs

• Magic Las Vegas – USA

• Mido – Italy

• Premiere Vision-France – France

• So Ethic – France

• East China Fair – China

• Stylemax – USA

• Intertextile Beijing Apparel Fabrics – China

• Modatex Fashion Fair – Germany

• Global Indian Festival – Malasia

• India International Garment Fair – India

2.4 Product development

To create the next product in a company’s product line, a design team goes through product development process steps. Starting with a product idea, the team moves through several stages to generate all the details and documents needed to get the product built. A new product development process goes through the same steps, however, as this product has not been developed by the team before, new risks and uncertainties are introduced and often addi- tional information is documented and shared with manufacturing. The flow of typical product development process in apparel industry is provided in fig- ure, this remains common for all categories of product development. In ap- parel industry, once, the market potential, customer requirements like, colour, silhouette, fabric and design aspects are evaluated by the fashion forecasting process, the conceptual design is developed by the designer in paper as a 2D form. Once the designs are finalised, the designers and merchandiser will sit together to finalise the specifications and technical aspects of the garment. Here, they will use their knowledge from their previous experience with their market and product. The product development process in apparel industry generally happens in three different levels,

Forecasting and product development


first steps of silhouette development and fabric selection are approached in different ways by different designers and companies. Many compa- nies base their lines around fabric and print designs. Their designers start by selecting fabrics and then create silhouettes for those fabrics. These designers are fabric driven. Other designers are silhouette-driven designs and product specifications are developed by the buyer and all the necessary information will be provided to the manufacturing mer- chandiser to develop the product prototype.

ii) New product by manufacturer – The manufacturing organisation’s design team along with merchandiser use to develop new products for their buyer. The product development is the business policy of the organisation which includes the development of the new designs and styles within the organisation. This process provides more business to the organisation, by showing pro-activeness in design development pro- cess by knowing the needs and wants of the customers/buyers and it helps in impressing the clients. Production merchandiser must update the buyer time to time about the product development done by organi- sation. The buyer visiting the factory is one of the key activities, where merchandiser can develop some positive opinion on the company by showing their facility and designer teams. This motivates the buyer to give the design development to the organisation instead of doing them- selves. Whenever buyer visits the organisation, new colour, prints, em- broidery patterns and desk loom developments need to be presented to them by production merchandiser. Merchandiser should influence the buyer to select the designs from presentation presented. A very good presentation and convincing ability of production merchandiser bring more business to the organisation.

iii) Product development by external agencies / Studios – In this case, the external agencies perform the product development process based on their expertise and research data they have. Buyers or manufacturers will source the designs concepts and specifications from these agencies with respect to the season and needs.

2.4.1 Role of merchandiser in product development process

(i) Fabric selection

The fabric selection process is the important process in the product develop- ment stage. Fabric selection is a crucial step in designing a project because fabrics are designed for specific applications, a fabric manufactured for one


Apparel Merchandising

purpose, may not be adaptable for another use. Therefore selecting the appro- priate fabric is only the first step in providing serviceable fabrics for apparel manufacturing. Designers specify the fabric as part of their design concept. Designers may develop new styles for fabrics that have been successful. Fabrics used in garment manufacturing can be based on their properties and characteristics. Property is a static physical dimension such as yards per pound; whereas, characteristic is the reaction of the fabrics when a force is imposed upon it. In general, the selection of fabric is performed by three dif- ferent views:

i. The consumer’s viewpoint

ii. The fabric producer’s viewpoint

iii. The garment producer’s viewpoint

In consumer point of view, the fabric for apparel is selected solely based on the appearance and wearability characteristics of the fabric – the durabil- ity, utility and style values. The fabric producers are mainly focused on the fabric characteristics than the properties. A fabric property is of no interest to the apparel/fabric manufacturer unless it controls a fabric characteristic or cost factor vital to him, or unless the property itself such as thickness or weight, has definite utility or style value. The same concept applies for the garment producer also. The fabric selection process involves designers and merchandisers going to major fabric markets to collect ideas, check trends, examine few products and get samples. The designer and merchandiser may visit fabric shows in and out of the country and fabric manufacturer’s showrooms. They attend fashion shows and also attend meetings with the representatives of textile fabric man- ufacturer to present their product line. The fabric selection is done based on aesthetics as well as technical demand of the garment. Following things need to be considered while selecting the fabric for product development.

• Fibre content

• Fabric construction—basic structure

Texture and engineered effects created by weave configurations

• Yarn selections

• Prints

• Colour range

Performance characteristics—wear factors, care requirements, sewing

• Compatibility and drape

• Versatility for use in multiple styles

• Price and terms

• Availability

Minimum order quantities

Forecasting and product development


During the selection process, the designer and merchandiser mainly think about the intended use of that particular apparel product. This will help them to identify the needs of that garment and aid them to focus either on techni- cal aspects like abrasion, UV protection, elasticity, colour fastness, tensile strength, etc. or aesthetic aspects like texture, structure, etc.

2.7 Textile, Fabric and Yarn Trade Fairs

Heimtextil – Germany

• Texworld – USA

• Premiere Vision – France

• Texworld Paris – France

• China Clothing & Textiles Expo – Australia

• Texprocess Americas – USA

Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles – China

HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter – Hong Kong

• Printsource New York – USA

• Shanghaitex – China

(ii) Silhouettes

Silhouette development involves transforming garment ideas into final gar- ment Sketches or technical drawings, which are hand or CAD renderings of the front and back of a garment, including stitching details. Technical draw- ings usually do not include body silhouettes and are used where construction and styling details are critical to the design. Other than this there is computer graphics software available to create sketches. Designers use this software because, these types of software allows them to store a database of body sil- houettes, also called croquis, in many different poses. Since the software has great potential to reuse the old croquis, designers prefer theses kind of graphics related software regularly. In addition to that these software also have a provision to transform that croquis into garment styles by using fabric images. This additional feature has a database of fabric details and scanned images of fabric for most of the specifications. Once, the user selects a particular fabric type, this software bring the fabric images and allow the user to view the 3D appearance of the garment in all angles. These kinds of software are the future of designing industry. They serve the design and apparel industry people in two very essential requirements like reducing time consumption and less requirements of highly skilled persons. Instead of spending hours together to see the final appearance of the garment, the de- signer can view his/her imagination in a matter of few seconds. In this process, either by manual or by software the croquis will be de- veloped, then the designers and merchandiser will sit together to evaluate the


Apparel Merchandising

designs (Figure 2.16). The developed designs will be assessed by merchan- diser and other representatives from buyers (rarely) for their market suita- bility. The merchandiser will input the market requirements or the customer requirements with technical feasibility. Out of this process, few designs may get rejected and few will get selected for the next stage of the product devel- opment process.

(ii) Proto type development

The proto typing process is the very next to silhouette development (Fig- ure 2.5). After the silhouettes have been approved, the process of develop- ing proto sample will be initiated. However, before making the proto sample there is an important step to be performed known as “Spec (specification) development” / Line sheet development / spec (specification) sheet develop- ment. Refer Figure 2.16, 2.17 and 2.18 for example.

- ment. Refer Figure 2.16 , 2.17 and 2.18 for example. Figure 2.5  Process step involved

Figure 2.5 Process step involved in proto sample development

In this process of specification development, the line sheets or spec sheets are developed for each style of the chosen silhouette (for different line). Here, the designer develops neat line sketches of every style in that particular line along with the fabric swatches he or she selected for that style. The designer decides the technical parameters of the garment along with the merchandiser and develops the specification sheet with all relevant informa- tion required for the prototyping process. Sometimes designers also use style boards for reviewing the line development groups. Style board shows the sketches of styles within the group or line.

Forecasting and product development


After the specification development, the proto sample development pro- cess will be initiated in the sampling department. The prototype is the first opportunity for the product development team including the designers, to see an actual garment style visually and also to ensure the fit of the product in a fit model. There are two basic methods to develop a prototype.

1. Draping method

It is a process of cutting, shaping and draping the fabric on a dress form or man- nequin. This process is generally used by the ready to wear sector designers and high fashion designers (client specific or fashionable clothes). This process allows the designer and product development team to evaluate the way a fabric performs for the selected style, while it is shaped to conform the 3D shape.

2. Flat pattern method

In this method, the company creates basic blocks of patterns for the required

designs at first. After making basic patterns/slopers, the desired silhouette is achieved by altering the basic blocks. This method is most widely used in apparel industries to create prototypes. The basic blocks are refined by the company for every season to ensure the better fit to the target market group. The apparel manufacturing companies are majorly located in India, Sri- lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Asian pacific countries. In all these countries, most of the apparel industries receive orders from America- or Europe-based customers, who have a dedicated design team to develop the design requirements. During this prototyping process, the information from customers to manufacturers and from manufacturer to customers’ needs to be transferred effectively. The time and cost involved in making and delivering the prototype samples from global sourcing partners complicate this process. Hence, it requires that the merchandiser needs to monitor the initial phase of product development process keenly in order to exclude styles, which does not fulfil the requirements of the line plane. These issues can be eliminated only by the proper communication between the buyer and manufacturer. The following are the essential requirements of proto sample request process:

• Buyer name

• Season

• Style description / code

• Detailed description of the garment

• Garment technical drawing

• Sample pattern

• Size measurements with tolerance

• Fabric description

• Bill of material

• Cutting instruction

• Sewing instruction


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• Label details

• Finishing instructions

• Packing instruction

• Target price



• The proto sample development process makes the manufacturer and merchandiser to understand the various raw materials, accessories and trims used for the product. This gives them a broad idea to esti- mate the manufacturing cost of the product.

• It is important for the merchandiser to understand the nature of the each raw material and their availability before making the pre-costing.

• The merchandiser should have a comprehensive database of product cost and effective cost accounting support for making this process success.

• This pre-costing must cover all the cost incurred in the manufactur- ing of that particular garment including the material, labour, over- head, design and distribution, general, administrative costs along with the profit percentage.

• For this process, merchandiser should be aware of the fabric con- sumption details and other cost factors like factory overhead, av- erage labour cost. He should update his database or knowledge periodically to avoid major loss in the process.

• Too low cost for a style may put the company at risk or the too high cost- ing of a garment will lead to loss of order in the competitive scenario.

• Finally, if it is found that the estimated cost of the product is too high for any particular company to get the order or the facilities to develop the products are seldom available in industry, it is recommended to leave the order instead of wasting time in product development.

(v) Development of technical specification sheet (Tech Pack)

After the pre-costing process, the styles which are estimated to meet the acceptable price points are approved by the review committee, which consists of all department heads, company’s chief officers. Initially, as a first process, the preliminary manufacturing specifications are developed. Based on the measurements and details provided, the final production pat- terns are developed. The developed patterns are then graded and sent to the production. The developed specification sheets are more detailed in order to educate the individual department people. The specification sheet may differ fac- tory to factory based on their production method and technology used. This company oriented specification details provides the merchandiser a detailed

Forecasting and product development


operation break-up with machine and man power requirement. This helps the merchandiser to calculate the cost of the product. After this initial costing, a meeting with industrial engineering and production planning department will help the merchandiser to bring down the cost of the product by changing the operation sequence or machine or type of process without compromising the product quality. This will finalise the cost of the product for companies who perform the product development process. During the specification sheet development, the details of other param- eters like, fabric, sewing thread, print or artwork designs, placement de- tails of design, care label instruction, etc. are mentioned in detail for better understanding.

2.8 Fashion Magazines


• GQ

• Grind

• Vogue Hommes International

• Another Man

• Esquire

10 Men


• Hercules

• Arena Homme +

• Fashion for Men

• Numéro Homme

• Men’s Fitness

• Best Life

• The Rake

• Details

• Café Magazine

• 7th Man Magazine

Da Man

Fantastic Man WOMEN’S

• Hero

• Elle

• Cosmopolitan

• Bazaar

• Mademoiselle

• Vogue

• Self

• Marie claire

• More

• Glamour

• Nylon

• People stylewatch


• Allure

• Grazia

• Instyle

• Look

• Redbook

• Purple

• Teen vogue

• Femina


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• Milk

• Junior

• Bella child

• Moda bombini

• Gossip

• My child

• Golden magazine

• Lo belle

• Childhood business

Cwb (Childrens wear buyer)

• Babie kins

Young Fashion Kids Magazine

• Born

Miami Fashion Kids Magazine

• Vogue Bambini

Hudsons’s childrens wear review

• Papier Mache.


• La petite

• Bc – baby couture magazine

(vi) Final costing

The very important and most crucial step in the product development process is finalising the cost of the developed product. This process verifies the detailed cost of the product at each manufacturing stage along with the initial costing de- veloped by the merchandiser. In this process, there may be changes in the initial amount quoted. Since, the product prototyping process provided better informa- tion about the required raw materials and their cost factors in detail, based on that, the cost sheet will be revised. It is important that, the cost fixed at this stage must be as accurate as possible because style adoption and selling prices of the garment will be based on the results of the final costing process (Figure 2.19).

Note: The designing process following the fashion research process, starting from storyboard and theme board to final garment development is provided as an example in appendix I, from Figure 2.9 to 2.20.

2.5 Line adoption

The final step in a merchandising process is line adoption. During the product development phase, several reviews on garment style, design and silhouette are performed by a review committee with merchandiser and members of design team. Sometimes this committee consists of sales person, marketing and key retail buyers to evaluate the garment in different aspect. The main objective of the frequent line review process is to keep a track on design de- velopment team and to check their performance on merchandisers intended styling direction. In this line adoption process, the company decides the final designs or garments that can be taken further for production and which can be dropped. The selected designs will become a part of the line. During this process, each style will be evaluated for the overall line plan requirements.

Forecasting and product development


The line adoption process is the first opportunity for the company exec- utives to view the line completely. This will give them idea to evaluate each style separately. The experts will look at the line and decide, whether each styles in the group have been fully developed to make good sales presenta- tion, whether each group presented maximum number of styles, colours and fabrics and whether the line stayed within the line plan guideline of maxi- mum number of SKUs. In most of the cases, the merchandiser will allow the design team to create approximately 10% extra styles for line to avoid final minute scarcity in the line adoption process.

2.6 Apparel analysis process

In apparel industry, the merchandisers deal with two different situations based on the type, size of the firm they are working, country and policies of companies. They are as follows:

(i) For the first case, the merchandiser will analyse the market and de- velop product based on the market needs and customer requirements with the help of design team within the company or with the help of the external design agencies. In both the cases, the company takes risk in launching the product to the market. The apparel manufacturing firms in developed coun- tries mostly performs this process. During this process, the merchandiser input to the line development is highly important. (ii) In the second case, the merchandiser performs a coordination process with the customer and receives the order in its final stage after line adop- tion process. In this category, the merchandiser or company is provided with all data (developed in line planning process) called as “Technical specifica- tion sheet” of the garment. This is generally known as “tech-pack” or “spec- sheet” and it may be provided with a sample garment itself. With this, the merchandiser performs product re-engineering and carries outs only the man- ufacturing aspects of the product and ships the garment back to the customer. This category reduces the kind of forecasting risks to the company. Most of the time, the companies from developing nations like India, Pakistan, Sril- anka, Bangladesh are following this kind of process. As they receive orders from European Nations and United States of America. The earlier processes discussed in this chapter from line planning process to the line adoption process are generally adopted from the apparel indus- tries in the developed western countries. In India, lots of domestic and India based international brands like Arvind and Aditya Birla are performing the line planning and adoption process. But the percentage of the companies in overall numbers is less. Hence, this “Apparel Analysis” process discussed in this chapter will help the readers to understand the role of merchandisers in small scale industry aspect. The apparel analysis process generally performed


Apparel Merchandising

with seven basic steps as provided in figure. The apparel analysis process dif- fers depending upon who performs the analysis, the purpose of the analysis and the methods used for the analysis. In merchandising point of view, the apparel analysis process is performed to satisfy the needs and wants of the buyers/consumers. In this point of view, the apparel analysis can be performed in three different methods as detailed below:

(i) Visual inspection

This method is simple and involves least complicated procedure in inspect- ing and analysing a garment. It is useful for evaluating the overall garment appearance, aesthetics, estimating fabric quality, identifying stitch and seam type and also to estimate number of stitches per inch. However, the accuracy of the process and results depend upon the skill of the individual who per- forms the analysis. Consumers and buyers, while sourcing products often use to perform this analysis. Merchandisers in industry perform this analysis in the initial stage of the product development.

(ii) Augmented visual inspection

This method is basically a visual inspection aided by simple test meth- ods and measuring instruments. This method provides comparatively more detailed information than the simple visual inspection. Less experienced an- alyst or the consistency requirement in the result forces this method to usage for analysing the garment.

Fibre identification by chemical and burning test

• GSM calculation using GSM Cutter

• EPI and PPI calculation using counting glass

• Microscopes to check weave, twist, etc.

• Colour measurement using instrument and so on.

(iii) Laboratory analysis with standard test methods

This method provides most scientific and strong repeatable results with respect to the analysis. The standard test method from AATCC (American association for Textile Chemist and Colourist), ASTM (American Society for Testing and Material), BS (British Standard), ISO (International Standard Organisation) are used. Examples of fabric properties where standard testing methods are used are given below:

• Fabric strength

• Fabric shrinkage

• Air permeability

Forecasting and product development


• Abrasion resistant

• Colour fastness

• Water vapour permeability and etc.

These results will help the analyst to take decision on, whether the garment or fabric can be used for the expected end use. Most of the time, the tests are de- structive. The information discussed in this part of the chapter provides necessary details which can be used or interpreted by the apparel industry merchandiser to analyse his /her product. However, the detailed information about garment anal- ysis and specification development for day-to-day life interpretation can be ob- tained from Ruth and Grace. The simple steps involved in the apparel / garment analysis process as given by Ruth and Grace are given in Figure 2.6.

as given by Ruth and Grace are given in Figure 2.6 . Figure 2.6  Steps involved

Figure 2.6 Steps involved in apparel analysis

2.6.1 Style description

The style description process is the first and foremost basic step in the ap- parel analysis process. In this process, the detailed information regarding the style description of the garment will be developed by the merchandiser and provided to other departments for the better understanding of the garment. This description contains the details like


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• Brand

• Style number

• Merchandise group

• Selling period

• Body types and size ranges

• Verbal description of garment and fabric used

• Detailed drawing of the front and back appearance of the garment

• Special instruction related to the production execution of the garment

2.6.2 Positioning strategy

In this step, merchandiser categorises the garment based on their application, usage, structural look and silhouette. After inspection, the garment will be rated on a five-point scale based on its group. The criteria’s used are provided below:

Here, the intrinsic cues represent the tangible intrinsic characteristics of a garment including materials, method of assembly, styling features, fit and fin- ishing. Whereas, the extrinsic cues represents the image of the product like, price, brand, reputation of the manufacturer or retailer, visual merchandising techniques and advertising are most common extrinsic cues to quality and value. If the merchandiser rates 4 that is near to functional, then it implies that the garment is more functional in nature and if he selects 4 or 5 that is near to aesthetic, then it can be said that the garment is more aesthetic in nature.

2.6.3 Sizing and fit

This section of the apparel analysis process analyses the size and fit details of the garment. The various details analysed are given below:

• Size range

• Gender

• Body type

• Size indicator (Dimensional size of parts like collar, shoulder, etc.)

• Fit level

• Silhouette and circumference

2.6.4 Material specifications

In this section, the detailed information about various materials used in the gar- ment/apparel is provided with samples or pictures to get a better understanding. The common specification details contain the following information:

• Number of materials used

• Material list

• Material name

Forecasting and product development


• Material description

• Fibre and yarn details

• Fabrication methods

• Structural design

• Colours

• Finishes used

• Care information

2.6.5 Garment component assembly

The preliminary task of this portion is to break-up the individual operation in the garment and identify the different parts of the garment. After identifying the parts, the possible simplest way of assembling the components will be detailed. The activities are given below:

• Identify and list the garment components

• Materials of the components

• Number of parts per components

Operation breakdown

• Types of stitches and seams used

• Number of parts to be assembled

• In-process pressing information

2.6.6 Final assembly and finishing

It is a process of detailing the garment final assembly process, where, the prepared components are sewn together to get a completed garment. In this stage, the merchandiser will inform the operation sequence that needs to be followed during the manufacturing process. It will be a strict guideline to be followed for achieving expected garment quality specification details. The in- formation developed at this stage of analysis are as follows:

• Total number of components and material

• Final assembly operations

• Types of seams and stitches to be used

• Finishing operations

• Colour matching procedures

Over all instructions and requirements

2.6.7 Style presentation

The final part of the analysis explains the packing and display information to be taken care with respect to the garment final presentation to the customer. This process gives details regarding the following aspects:


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• Labelling

• Accessories

• Packing method

Hanger / self-appeal

• Accuracy of information

• Placement of the information (readability)