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Sample lines

Gaining insight into the use of sample lines as a sales tool used by fashion brands and sales representatives.
A lady between two racks of clothing. There is a spotlight next to her.

As introduced in the Product Design and Manufacturing Processes in the Fashion Industry course, fashion brands create a sample line, a set of samples for the line(s) being presented to merchandisers and retail buyers. The samples include an example of each style in the line in one colorway.

When selling through a sales representative, some companies require the sales rep (usually independent multiline sales reps) to purchase the samples. In these cases, the sales reps are generally allowed to sell the samples at the end of the selling season.

Other companies provide the samples to the sales rep (usually company sales reps). In these cases, the sales rep generally returns the samples at the end of the season. The line catalog or line sheet is used in conjunction with the samples to provide information about the line to the retail buyer. They include photographs or drawings of the items in the line, along with style numbers, sizing information, colors (some even include fabric swatches), and information about ordering procedures and guidelines.

A black and white image of a line sheet for men’s workout apparel. Images of t-shirts, shorts, tank tops, their angles, details, and sizes are included. (Take a closer look)

Line sheets, used by sales representatives, show all of the styles, colors, and sizes available for a particular fashion line.

Product life cycle management (PLM) applications have altered the way many fashion brand companies create sample lines. Three-dimensional computer technology is used to show a line (including intended material and colorways) with virtual samples, which are viewed on a computer screen. Merchandisers, sales representatives, and retail buyers can view the line and place orders without creating actual prototypes or samples. Pieces of the line can be combined in a video presentation to show a variety of coordinating combinations.

Benefits include the ease of communication, convenience, reduced paperwork, security of using usernames and passwords, and simplification of order tracking. A number of companies use web-based and/or cloud technology systems that allow retail buyers to also place orders for merchandise online.

In selling within the fashion industry, much as with the purchase of any merchandise, there are terms of sale which are negotiated and agreed upon in finalizing the sale.

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Introduction to Fashion Brand Marketing and Retailing

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