Issuing Style Numbers When You Start a New Clothing Line


When designing a clothing line, one needs to assign style numbers to each design. Style numbers help you and everyone in your supply chain keep track of your designs.  Can you imagine a Chinese sewing factory trying to read “Urban Chaos” or “Hot Kitten?”  Or what about a boutique calling to order 3 “Delicious Wet Seals?”  If you name your styles, then everyone in your supply chain would have to remember the names (and it will show what a newbie you really are).  It’s best to keep it simple.

Fashion Incubator says we should use numbers only.  Liza D says you could use both letters and number system such as the letter F for Fall and S for Spring if we want.  Let’s examine this:

Fashion Incubator says we shouldn’t use names for our styles as it’s not for our benefit, but for those that will work with us (pattern makers, sewing contractors, etc.).  Kathleen points out that not all sewers speak English, but EVERYONE SPEAKS NUMBERS.  I can’t stress this enough.  Numbers are the way to go.

Now don’t go issuing random numbers.  Each digit in your style numbers should have meaning and enable you to grow.  Use 4 digits at a minimum.  However, 5 digits are even better.  Code by categories such as:

First number for gender:

10000 – boys

20000- girls

30000- unisex


10000 – men

20000 – women

30000 – children

If you are making children’s clothing in a range of sizes, you might instead want to allocate your first number like this as your infant size 3 months patterns will be different from your boys’ size 8 patterns,etc.:

10000 infant size newborn – 18 months

20000 toddler size 2T – 4T

30000 children size 5 – 8

second number for type of garment:

01000 – pants

02000 – shorts

03000 – dress shirts

04000 – knit shirts

05000 – jackets

06000 – accessories (hats, belts, etc.)

then you can further code it by fabric type:

00100 – cotton woven

00200 – cotton knit

00300 – denim

00400 – silk

But I’m not going to divide by fabrication as most fabric costs are similar in my line.  You would only do this if there is a significant price difference in fabric costs.  Though really, it isn’t necessary as you’d probably be using a different pattern if you were using different fabrics.


What about seasons?  Liza D. suggests we use letters to identify Fall and Spring (ie., F for Fall and S for Spring)…so your style number would look like this:

F23003 = Fall Toddler Dress Shirt Design #3

I’m thinking it would be better to incorporate a Fall or Spring category into my style numbers by designating a set of numbers for the particular season like this:

23001 to 23004 = Toddler Shorts Fall Designs #1 through #4

I’d know that my next season (Spring) would start with Design #5:


So my Third, fourth and fifth numbers would be actual design numbers:

00001 – first design

00703 – 703rd design (can you imagine how old I’ll be when I get up to the 703rd design?  OMG…LOL)

11503 – Infant Pants Design #503

I’m going to go with the 5 digit style number as I could easily outgrow the 4 digit system in a few years.  A 4 digit system would limit me to 99 designs in a category.  It would be a safer bet to use the 5 digit system and be able to incorporate up to 999 designs per category.


Here’s so more info about issuing Style Numbers:

Fashion Incubator’s Style Numbers Revisited

Fashion Incubator’s How to Issue Style Numbers Part 127

Fashion Incubator’s How to Issue Style Numbers Part 128

Fashion Incubator’s How to Issue Style Numbers Part 129

On the home front, we just got back from Philadelphia where we had a successful Kidney Transplant meeting.  Things are going along as planned and My Sunshine Girl is doing well.  Thanks for your continued prayers!



  1. You’re amazing. With everything you have going on with your daughter you still are starting a clothing line. You are inspirational. You go, girl! And I’m still praying for your daughter and your family.

  2. That is a great review on assigning style numbers! Best wishes for you and your daughter.

  3. So glad to hear everything is going good with your Sunshine Girl:)

    Funny about the style numbers, I was just reading this on Fashion Incubator this morning researching for my next project.

  4. hi lisa,
    haven’t commented in a while, but have been reading. sending very good wishes for sunshine girl’s transplant. cannot even begin to imagine the stress and worry.

    it is fun to watch the development of your clothing line. people often do not realize how much work it really is. it takes more than just sewing up some cute clothes. people have asked why i don’t do my own line. i tell them that it is too work! 🙂 thanks for letting me live vicariously.


  5. Hi Lisa
    then you can further code it by fabric type:
    00100 – cotton woven
    00200 – cotton knit

    I know a lot of people do this but I strongly discourage it. It makes it way too complicated. I think many people missed the nuance in the entrepreneur’s guide to sewn product manufacturing (one of the things I’ll be changing). When I said to code to fabrication, I meant if the cost difference was extreme. The example I used was leather but it was NOT the cost of leather per se that was the issue. It was the cost of DIES. Like I said, I think most people missed the nuance. Most people think of leather as being very expensive and to be sure it costs more than cotton but it is costly for a reason few people realize. It’s because of DIES. I don’t know what they cost lately but over ten years ago, they were $5,000 for a short leather jacket. Iow, it’s a cost above and beyond fabric; an infrastructure cost for custom made tools you’ll need which requires their own time line and production schedule to have them made in time.

    I also think one shouldn’t code to season for at least two reasons. One is unnecessary complexity. KISS (keep it simple stupid). Two, what if you’re re-running the style for subsequent seasons, the only thing that’s changed is the fabric you’re using but it’s the same pattern? You’ll have to change the style number for the exact same product when you really didn’t need to do anything. That it is being re-run for another season is obvious from costing sheets, line sheets etc.

    An additional sub-reason to not change style numbers according to season is guidance to buyers. Buyers notice style numbers. Numbers SAY something. Let’s say a buyer sees style no’s 21034, 22045, 13068, and also stuck in there is 21001, 31001 etc -iow, all low numbers. What do you think that says? To buyers (and service providers) it says that these are strong sellers, maybe your signature pieces, pieces that consistently sell well for you and have from day one. If a buyer is considering picking up your line, they will view those pieces with low numbers as less risky. That you’re obviously rerunning those because they’ve sold well in the past and that they should probably buy those too being solid performers. Iow, if you reassign numbers according to season, the buyer has no way of knowing that those styles have a good track record and have performed consistently season in and season out.

    On a personal note, glad to hear the transplant meeting went successfully! :).

  6. Thanks Claire!

    Amy…miss ya! So what are you making now? Don’t have enough hats to juggle? LOL! You’re productivity makes me look lazy!

    Hey Teri!…thanks! Ya know, you’re smart enough to know this is way too much work…but I’m a glutton for punishment.

    Kathleen…you rock! I knew I could count on you!

    P.S. Kathleen wrote a great post about the subject on Fashion Incubator today…go check it out:

    With friendship,

  7. Way to think ahead and be organized right off the bat. Think big I always say. Looks like everything is going great for your line -congratulations. Even though I don’t sew your information and site is a great resource…..thanks for being a real entrepreneur! I am not a huge fan of entrepreneurs that never give out information – but you always do! I hope you are doing well….

  8. Glad the meeting went well, Lisa!!! Still sending prayers.



  1. […] product should have style numbers that follow a consistent layout. Ex: Style #-Main Category-Sub Category- Color […]

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