Product Development role

Been a designer for 20 years and looking other roles… production and product development seem like good options. However, I would like to know if a Product Development role is ever well defined or is it like doing B!T@h work for designers? would love to hear about your experience in different companies for that role!

In my experience, Product development entails pattern making and/or technical design, spec development, tech pack creation and maintenance, and sample measuring to verify TOP samples. Production development requires knowledge of production sewing methods and factory workflows, I guess its related but it is very different from design. I am not sure what you mean by B**** work for designers, you work with designers, of course, but both are separate and typically well defined positions. When I think of B work for designers, it brings to mind something more like an assistant designer, not either of the roles you listed.

hi muumuu, thank you for your reply! makes sense, though I feel like the term is sometimes loosely used especially when I see job postings for this position.

Hi there! What you’re describing sounds a lot like Technical Design- which includes measuring ALL samples/creating and updating techpacks/checking TOP’s/writing specs and grading/fitting and also possibly adjusting patterns.

Product Development usually involves a lot of coordination and adherence to calendars, and usually includes the following:
-Setting up development schedules (Asia/US/China/Mexico schedules all differ a lot) and creating a T&A calendar in accordance to our company’s launch dates-- and keeping everyone on track

  • Working with multiple mills and factories from initial concept (techpack) through TOP
  • Coordinating with all relevant teams (design/production/tech design/patternmaking, etc) to keep them on track
  • Sourcing new fabrics and trims, and tracking MCQ/MOQ
  • Coordinating all sample submissions/labdips/strikeoffs/testing
  • Initial and sometimes finalized costing
  • Onboarding vendors and mills
  • Sometimes involves elements of production including PO’s, fabric liability, etc
  • Knowledge of techpacks/factory capabilities/sewing construction/ fabrics and trims/ production processes is key

A great Product Developer is an key liason who supports multiple departments and makes the process between design and production-ready product seamless… but each company has their own job descriptions… and of course not all companies treat their product developers well :confused:


Um kinda insulting to hear someone call it b**tch work. Obviously you don’t understand what responsibilities and expertise are required for these roles. Personally I love it. I started out in my career in design but also did pd work alongside it. But depending on the company pd and production are separate roles from design. I’ve have over 20yrs experience and love pd because it’s a left brain/right brain role. If you’re creative with a pragmatic critical thinking side you will enjoy it. You gotta love getting into the details of the whole process.


Every company is going to be different in how they define “Product Development”-- much will have to do with the size of the company and their priorities.

I think for most, Product Development is that bridge between Design and Production. While designers focus on being hyper creative, presentations, and what’s happening next season, product developers translate the design concept to production. In many companies, product developers support design by initiating 1st samples, salesman samples, and follow those samples to the production and TOP approvals. Other companies have the product developers take over after 1st samples are created and really there to support a Production team who is watching deliverables, bulk orders, and cost. And in very small companies (or companies with minimal head count) there is a lot of overlap and team members wearing multiple hats. It’s not unheard of for PD to be responsible for creating line sheets, tech packs, ordering raw materials, doing fittings, etc… There are a lot of brands where there isn’t a design team at all but instead a team of product developers who were responsible to “translate” store bought inspiration.

PD requires a lot of follow-up, time management, and being a team player. If you are able to think with both your right/ left brain, you will be very successful at Product Development, but being in the middle, almost feels like you have two bosses b/c you have to support your designers while bearing in mind production’s needs. It’s important when you’re looking at job postings or interviewing to find out what that company’s expectations are and KPIs.