Designing a new collection of South Asian fashion is no simple feat. From concept development to fabric sourcing, pattern making, sample production, fittings, adjustments, overseas manufacturing, quality control, and finally, launch, designers do a ton of physical testing in order to produce a single collection! Inevitably, lots of garments are produced and by the end of a season, many perfectly wearable and beautiful samples end up remaining unsellable and overproduced inventory remains unsold.
These are the two most common ways South Asian fashion is currently produced:
1. Made-to-Order: These garments are made only once the customer places and order which allows for maximum customizations to things like color, size, etc. if requested by the customer. This is the most sustainable option; however, the garment is likely much more expensive and can have a ship time as long as 8-12 weeks as its being made and shipped from India only after an order is placed!
2. Ready-to-Ship: These garments are manufactured in larger batches and in standardized sizes and colors. Ordering in large quantities allows brands to keep pricing low and the ship time as short as 1-2 days because the item is already "in stock" in the US. However, because of larger batch sizes, overproduction is very likely.
In both cases, its clear that the entire design and development process may bring about excess unused garments, which is why many brands consider hosting sample sales. It's a chance to sell those pieces from last season at a huge discount in order to make room for new. Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge rise in brands hosting these fun, buzz-worthy, and sometimes secretive live events. So we wanted to deep dive into the different types of sample garments brands may sell and why we think sample sales are here to stay.
Most common types of samples:
Overstock: Excess inventory at the end of a season that a brand doesn't end up selling
Gently Used Floor Samples: Garments used for photoshoots, marketing, and in-store try-ons
Manufacturing Defects: Garments that dont pass quality control standards due to a manufacturing defect
- Design Samples: Test garments during the development of a collection where brands prototype various colors, fabrics, and styles.
Why we think sample sales are here to stay:
It’s a more accessible way to shop your favorite South Asian designers and the latest styles without paying full price
It’s one small way for brands to be more mindful and circular by ensuring no perfectly wearable garment goes wasted.
Buying samples is a more mindful and conscious way to support a designer even if you don’t want to purchase a brand new garment.
But is shopping at a South Asian sample sale really that sustainable if brands are producing so much waste in the first place? Why don't they just make less waste?
South Asian fashion can be more complicated to design than western fashion. The hand embroidery and beadwork can be extremely delicate and fragile, the sizing needs to fit just right in order to look the way the designer intended, and many US-based designers often don't get to be onsite to see these garments being produced overseas. So although brands can try their best to minimize errors, overproduction, and waste, it can’t always be completely eliminated. That’s why hosting an event to get unused items sold at a huge discount is a more mindful step brands can take instead of letting garments go to waste altogether.
Take a look at the first sample sale we hosted at our "Seasonless" pop-up to support fashion brands we love and give members of our community an exclusive way to shop amazing pieces more accessibly!
We have a lot on the horizon when it comes to supporting brands in being more mindful when designing collections. Stay tuned for all the sample sale fun with Sakhya!