How to Classify Garment Defects


Before starting to check over a garment, we need to remark what is a defect. We must also evaluate it depending on the type of defect and its position on the garment. In order to do this, it is necessary to have a Garment Defect Classification document.

However, how do you decide what is a defect and the level of it? What guideline should the inspector follow to consider a defect? 
The purchasing company is who determinates the list of defects and their importance. Either in a specific document (“Classification of Garment Defects”) or including it in the Quality Manual.

The document “Classification of Garment Defects” consists of:

  1. A list of defects: The list of all the penalised defects and their importance according to the area where it is located.
  2. Illustrative photographs of the defects.
  3. Graphics identifying the importance of the garment areas.


The defects list contains all the defects that may occur during garments production. In addition, to each defect is assigned its level of importance depending on the position in which it is located.

The same defect would be more or less important, depending on

how visible it is on the garment

The level of importance is established in three categories: CRITICAL, MAJOR or MINOR.
 Usually, the defects list is organised according to its type, correspondingly to:
  • Fabric
  • General appearance of the garment
  • Confection
  • Finishing, iron
  • Labelling
  • Packaging
For instance, this could be a sample of a fabric defect list:


Fabric defects
Stitch or seam defects


To help to define the type of defect, the list is usually together with a picture of it.

Fabric defects

Oil stains
Needle failure
Speck on the fabric
Broken lycra
Contaminated tissue
Barred fabric
Hole on the fabric
Knot on the fabric

Sewing defects

Open seams
Retained seams
Stitch jump
Loose threads


 In addition to the defects, this list must include a graphic of the areas of visibility. This graphic shows the areas either on a standard style or on a style that belongs to the company.

The areas are divided into three categories: VISIBLE, LESS VISIBLE, AND NOT VISIBLE. Depending on the type of defect and the area in which it is located, it can be considered as important or not, or it can even be considered as non-defective.

Areas of visibility for styles in general

Areas of visibility according to the type of garment

The Garment Defects Classification is also used as a supporting document for inspection reports. It is the guide that the inspector uses to determine the defects, to quantify them. And, together with the AQL, it helps to determine if the inspection is approved or not.

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