2 Major Types of Samples and Why You Need to Know the Difference

A big issue in the apparel industry is the lack of standardized language and terminology. With much of manufacturing occurring world wide, the language barrier just adds to the confusion, leading to delays and long lead times.

Sampling is a perfect example. There are a dozens of terms interchangeably used, and frequently each brand's definition is slightly different. Internally, Maderight simplifies this by classifying them into two groups: prototypes and samples.


Prototypes refer to styles where designs are not finalized. Frequently this is due to fabric not being finalized or key style or fit details not being approved. Once fabric, trim, and construction have all been finalized, they become samples.


Samples are approved prototypes, with final fabric, trim and construction. There are many different types of samples, depending on the specific needs of each brand. The most common samples are below:

  • Colorway Samples: Samples created in each style's colorway. These are used to approve the individual colors before going into bulk production.
    Photography Samples: Samples created specifically for a brand's photoshoot.
  • Salesman Samples (SMS): Salesman or sales samples are used by a sales team during trade shows or other selling activities. Typically SMS orders range from 10 - 30 pieces per style per color, in 1 or 2 sizes depending on the size of the brand. A purchase order is required for SMS orders.
  • Size Samples: Size samples are samples in each of the sizes you're manufacturing to approve the grade rules and each size. Frequently one color is elected to make a complete size run per style.
  • Pre-production Samples (PPS): Pre-production samples are the final sample made before production. Pre-production samples must be approved before kicking off bulk production and are frequently used in the factory for quality assurance purposes as a reference for proper construction.


Samples go by many names and these are simply how we categorize them internally. However, what is most important is communicating with your factory about your sample expectations. After all, understanding intent is far more valuable than using the same term.

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2 Major Types of Samples and Why You Need to Know the Difference
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