The ultimate guide to Bill of Materials (BoMs) in the apparel industry 

One of the cornerstones of any manufacturing business, the Bill of Materials (or BoM) is the unsung hero that ensures the seamless translation of design concepts into tangible, market-ready products.  

In this ultimate guide, we will explore the intricacies of BoM creation, management, and optimization, shedding light on apparel industry-specific challenges and offering practical solutions. Whether you’re a technical designer, a procurement specialist, a production manager, or anyone involved in the complex web of apparel creation, this guide will serve as your trusted companion.  

The world of Bill of Materials in the apparel supply chain is as fascinating as it is complicated, and this guide will be your passport to mastering it.  

What Do You Mean by Bill of Materials (BoM)? 

Whether you’re manufacturing a tailored garment or a state-of-the-art electronic device, the Bill of Materials (BoM) serves as the foundational document that organizes the entire production process. Think of the BoM as the production recipe and shopping list rolled into one, with the overarching goals of optimizing efficiency, reducing waste, and accurately calculating the cost of materials. 

At its essence, a Bill of Materials is a comprehensive inventory of all the raw materials, components, sub-assemblies, and parts that are required for manufacturing a product. It outlines not only what goes into the final product but also the exact quantities and specifications of each material.  

What Is a Bill of Materials (BoM) In the Apparel Industry? 

A Bill of Material in the apparel industry is a detailed list of all the materials, trims and their quantities that are required to manufacture a specific garment. It’s like an inventory list, which also serves as a crucial reference and planning tool for every stage of the garment production process, from design and sourcing to manufacturing and quality control.  

Let’s understand BoMs better with an example: Imagine you’re a fashion designer preparing to launch a new clothing line. Your BoM would include descriptions and quantities of the fabric, buttons, zippers, threads, labels, costing sheet and measurements, and any other components needed for each garment.  

The BoM helps you track what components are being used in production and is created as part of the fashion tech pack. It also helps you calculate your estimated production costs early on enabling you to make smart decisions about which fabrics or materials to use to make production cost-effective whilst upholding quality and stylistic aspirations.  

    What To Include in a Bill of Materials 

    Here’s a breakdown of what a BoM typically includes in the garment industry: 

    • Fabric and Materials: The BoM specifies the type of fabric(s) required for the garment, including details such as fabric composition, color, weight, and texture. It also lists other materials like buttons, zippers, threads, labels, interlinings, and any additional embellishments. 
    • Cutting Instructions: This section of the BoM provides precise instructions on how to cut the fabric to create various garment components, such as front and back panels, sleeves, collars, and pockets. It includes measurements, CAD drawings, and cutting layouts. 
    • Sizing Information: BoMs often includes sizing details, specifying the measurements and dimensions for each size of the garment, ensuring consistency across the production process. 
    • Quantity Breakdown: The BoM outlines the quantities of each material or component required to produce one unit of the garment. This helps in calculating the total material requirements for a production run. 
    • Cost Breakdown: It includes the estimated cost of each material and component, as well as the total production cost for each garment. This information is crucial for pricing, budgeting, and cost analysis. 
    • Quality Standards: The BoM may specify quality standards and requirements for each component to ensure that the final product meets quality control criteria. 
    • Assembly Instructions: For more complex garments or those with unique features, the BoM may include detailed assembly instructions, specifying how different components are sewn together and in what order. 
    • Supplier Information: In some cases, the BoM also includes information about the suppliers or vendors providing the materials and components, helping in procurement and supply chain management. 
    • Regulatory Compliance: In industries with specific regulatory requirements (e.g., labeling and safety standards for children’s clothing), the BoM may include information on compliance with relevant regulations. 

    How Do You Make a Bill of Material in Fashion? 

    Creating a Bill of Materials in the fashion industry is a meticulous process that involves documenting all the information required to manufacture a specific garment or collection. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a BoM in fashion: 

    1. Start with a Template: Begin by creating or obtaining a BoM template that suits your needs. You can use fashion design software such as WFX PLM or ERP that includes columns for item names, descriptions, quantities, unit of measure, cost, supplier information, and any other relevant details. 
    2. Identify the Garment: Clearly define the garment for which you are creating the BoM. Specify the garment type, style, and any unique characteristics that differentiate it from others. 
    3. List the Components: Enumerate all the components and materials that make up the garment. This includes fabric, buttons, zippers, threads, labels, interlinings, and any embellishments or accessories. Be specific about the type, color, size, and quality of each component. 
    4. Determine Quantities: Specify the quantity of each component required to produce one unit of the garment. Be precise in your calculations to avoid over-ordering or shortages. Consider sizing variations if your garment comes in different sizes. 
    5. Calculate Costs: Estimate the cost of each component and material. Include the unit cost and, if applicable, the total cost for the quantity required for one garment. This cost breakdown helps in calculating the overall production cost and pricing. 
    6. Include Supplier Information: If you have specific suppliers or vendors for your materials, include their information in the BoM. This is helpful for procurement and supply chain management. 
    7. Mention Quality Control Measures: If there are specific quality standards or requirements for any component, mention them in the BoM. This ensures that all materials meet the desired quality criteria. 
    8. Add Construction Details: For more complex garments, include assembly instructions or construction details in the BoM. Describe how different components are sewn together, specifying the stitching techniques and any other relevant information. 
    9. Size and Sizing Information: If your garment comes in multiple sizes, provide sizing information in the BoM. Specify the measurements and dimensions for each size to maintain consistency across production. 
    10. Add Compliance Information: If your garment needs to adhere to specific regulations or standards (e.g., safety labels, care instructions), ensure that the BoM includes all the necessary information to comply with these requirements. 
    11. Review and Update: Regularly review and update your BoM as needed, especially when there are design changes, material substitutions, or pricing adjustments. Keeping the BoM accurate and up to date is essential for efficient production. 

    Creating a BoM in the fashion industry is not a one-time task but an ongoing process that evolves with your designs and production needs. It serves as a crucial reference point for all stakeholders involved in the standard manufacturing process, ensuring that your creations are made with precision, quality, and efficiency. 

    How To Audit a Bill of Materials in Fashion 

    Creating a comprehensive Bill of Materials is essential but not enough; it must be audited to ensure it meets industry standards and is user-friendly. Here are some valuable tips for auditing a BoM in the fashion sector:  

    • Simplify Terminology: To enhance understanding and communication across your business, maintain consistency in terminology. Ensure that terms used, such as “tag” or “pocket,” have the same meaning for everyone involved in the process. 
    • Adopt Consistent Naming Conventions: Assign names to individual components in the BoM using a consistent naming convention. For instance, if you opt for a 2-digit numbering system (e.g., 01, 02), apply this consistently to all components throughout your business. 
    • Embrace Standard Abbreviations: Utilize standard abbreviations wherever possible to avoid confusion. For example, if you use ‘AP’ for Assembly Process (i.e., assembly line), refrain from changing it to ‘AC’ or ‘AS.’ Consistency in abbreviations streamlines communication. 
    • Employ a Consistent Format: Establish a uniform format for your BoM. Create an organized outline or table with rows and columns, representing each component and its relevant attributes, such as size or color code. This format ensures clarity and consistency in the presentation of information. 
    • Prioritize Readability and Comprehension: Make sure that your BoM is easy to read and understand. Any person who needs to work with the BoM should be able to grasp its contents without the need for extensive explanations or cross-referencing with other documents. Clarity is key. 
    • Ensure Ease of Updates: Implement an efficient system that makes updating the BoM straightforward. Having the capability to modify data easily not only simplifies maintenance but also allows you to adapt to changes swiftly, accommodating evolving design requirements or material substitutions.  

    A well-audited Bill of Materials in the fashion industry serves as a cornerstone for effective communication, precision in production, and adaptability to market dynamics.  

    Benefits of BoMs for Fashion Businesses 

    Understanding the significance of a Bill of Materials in garment manufacturing reveals four compelling reasons for its crucial role:  

    • Reduce Production Time: A well-structured BoM cuts down production time by clearly itemizing each component and its quantity. This precision empowers you to optimize your production schedule, ensuring timely deliveries—a significant advantage over competitors lacking robust BoMs. 
    • Improve Cost Efficiency: A reliable BoM equips your company with superior budget planning capabilities. By knowing the exact material, component, and labor requirements for each garment type, you can manage costs more effectively. Moreover, any changes made during the process are promptly updated, eliminating confusion among team members regarding the next steps, thus promoting cost control. 
    • Streamline Inventory Management: BoM reduces over and understocking of inventory by enabling strategic production planning. It allows you to prioritize the production of items based on demand fluctuations, such as seasonal variations or the end of a product’s lifecycle. This dynamic approach prevents overstocking and ensures resources are allocated efficiently. 
    • Minimize Waste: BoM plays a pivotal role in waste reduction throughout the production process. When design modifications occur, only the affected components require updates. This targeted approach reduces material consumption, resulting in cost savings and a greener, more sustainable operation.  

    Why Use WFX To Manage Your Fashion BoMs   

    Here’s why you should check out WFX PLM’s in-built BoM module to create and manage BoMs:  

    • Automated BoM Handling: WFX eliminates manual BoM preparation from scratch, saving time and reducing errors. 
    • Effortless Factory Collaboration: Share BoMs directly with factories through WFX, ensuring uninterrupted workflow. 
    • Component Insights: Access detailed information about garment components easily. 
    • Simplified BoM Creation and Updates: Create or update BoMs with just a few clicks. 
    • Automatic Change Tracking: WFX tracks BoM changes, making it easy to spot discrepancies. 
    • Flexible Viewing and Management: Organize BoMs by product type or category. 
    • Seamless Team Collaboration: Team members can access component information simultaneously, fostering better communication and efficiency. 


    Effective Bill of Materials (BoM) management is paramount in the fast-moving and detail-oriented world of fashion. As we’ve explored the benefits of using WFX for BoM management, it’s evident that this modern and user-friendly solution can revolutionize your garment manufacturing operations.  

    From eliminating human errors to ensuring uninterrupted workflows and facilitating real-time team collaboration, WFX proves to be an indispensable tool for fashion design teams striving for excellence. 

    So, why settle for outdated, manual BoM management when you can embrace the future with WFX? Embrace the change, optimize your processes, and propel your fashion business toward new heights of efficiency and success. Your journey to streamlined BoM management starts here, with WFX.


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    About the author

    Vishakha Somani

    Vishakha Somani

    Vishakha Somani is a Fashion Tech Analyst and Communications expert at WFX - World Fashion Exchange. She is a Fashion graduate from Polimi Italy, and has been actively reporting on the fashion industry since 2016. She's an expert in analyzing trends, market shifts and new technologies. Her work spans forecasting and research on the global luxury and retail supply chain, emerging markets, and the circular economy.

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