How an app connects designers and garment makers

April 13, 2015 16:05
Techpacker founder Josie Tam stands in front of Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma (2nd Left), in a picture taken during a forum in Hong Kong in February. Credit: Josie Tam

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in February that the government will invest HK$500 million (US$64.5 million) to support the local fashion industry.

The money will go into programs that promote local fashion designers and brands, incubating design start-ups and providing fashion design graduates with overseas internships and study opportunities.

Given that it is still early April, the start of the new financial year, the budget proposal is yet to translate into concrete initiatives on the ground.

Still, there has been some good news from the industry as an enterprising girl from the post-80s generation has already created a fashion technology platform without any government support.

Called Techpacker, the app created by Josie Tam is designed to help fashion designers communicate more effectively with factories.

The platform even won praise from Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, as StartUpBeat, a tech news site under Hong Kong Economic Journal, noted in a recent article.

Fashion designers often come up with great ideas, but in the end, the ideas must be implemented by someone else -- the garment factories.

Let's take a look on how a designer and a factory normally work together.

To start with, the designer would send a pile of design sketches to the factory. The factory usually can't figure out what the designer wants exactly by looking at the sketches alone. It will have to send emails to the designers and ask for clarifications.

After a series of email exchanges, the factory will send the first clothing sample to the designer. The designer would identify the problems and ask the factory to make a second, sometimes third, samples based on the changes required.

The process wastes both money and time.

According to Tam, Techpacker will minimize the chance that the communication between fashion designer and factory will go wrong.

After a designer uploads his or her design on the platform, a manufacturing list will be generated automatically. The list will help the garment factory understand what needs to done.

The application combines information on materials, sizes and measurements with sketches to allow the specifications down to the details, like the length and the position of the zipper and so on.

With Techpacker, the communication between the two parties can be facilitated on a common standard platform.

In fact, the app is said to have has received positive feedback from well-known fashion brands such as Victoria's Secret and Ralph Lauren.

At the moment, major target clients of the local venture are independent fashion designers and small fashion brands in the United States, but not Hong Kong companies.

Why is that so?

According to Tam, Hong Kong firms are reluctant to try out new ideas quickly, unlike their US counterparts.

Techpacker is now open to users free of charge, but the startup plans to impose fees within six months.

Tam revealed that Europe will be the app's next target market. She hopes that sometime in the future, Techpacker will also play a key role in the development of the Hong Kong fashion industry.

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EJ Insight writer