What are tech packs and why are they necessary?

Many people come to footwear with the (often intimidating) misconception that they will need to provide blueprints, CAD drawings or spec sheets to their manufacturer. There is no need for CAD drawings - many major brands don't use them. Blueprints and spec sheets are typically handled by your manufacturer. For most footwear, designs are generally presented in the form of tech packs.

So what is a tech pack?

Tech packs are digital illustrations of your designs that show relevant views, proper proportions, specified materials and other information that is integral to making your shoe.  A tech pack should provide your manufacturer with all of the details necessary to understand your design and provide you with an accurate quote. 

If you have developed a relationship with a manufacturer, they may be able to refer you to a tech pack designer. Alternately, you may look to hire a freelancer or to create the tech packs yourself if you have a good command of design software.

Tech packs are the best starting point for conveying an original design. While they are absolutely necessary when you’re developing a completely new product, an original outsole, or a product with unique detailing, there are some instances where you may not need them.

Many new and established brands choose to source their product. In this process, often termed “private labelling”, the brand chooses an existing design that fits their aesthetic and then puts their own label on it. Working this way eliminates the need for a tech pack completely.

Furthermore, if you’re closely replicating a style and only introducing minor changes such as a new material, your manufacturer may also be able to work solely from a reference sample. The more you change, however, the more necessary it is to have a tech pack. This is the most effective way to ensure that the shoe in your mind is the shoe that comes off the line.