Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) in Apparel Industry

What is AQL in Apparel Industry?
AQL is an abbreviation for Acceptable Quality Level or Acceptance Quality Level. AQL is one of the most used terms in the apparel industry when it comes into consideration to quality garment inspection. AQL refers to the maximum number of defective items that could be considered to accept during the random sampling of pre-shipment inspection. To reduce risk before accepting a shipment, AQL sampling is a practical and effective approach to undertake quality assurance on an order of produced items. Generally, for clothing items 1.5%, 2.5%, 4.0%, 6.5%, and 10% AQL values are used depending on the type and price of the clothing.

AQL in apparel Industry

AQL depends on percentage defective or defects per 100 units. Percentage defective is used in the apparel industry for simply made products, components, and materials. It is calculated by taking the number of defective products, multiplying by 100 and dividing by the number of units inspected. Defects per 100 units is a more exact way to find acceptable production lots. Defects per 100 units is calculated by taking the total number of defects, multiplying by 100 and dividing by the number of units inspected.

Before checking goods, always be prepared and have the approved sample, color swatches, specification, and all relevant information at hand. It makes your job much easier if you are always methodical, and this applies especially to inspection. You must be meticulous but also quick if you have many deliveries to check in a limited amount of time. It is also crucial to remember that large-scale inspections are frequently expensive, unneeded, and time-consuming.

It is very unlikely that you will have a delivery with no faults, so you accept that a percentage of the production will have some major faults. The factory should always do a 100% inspection of the goods before packing and to what degree can vary from each factory (this is an important point to check when doing a factory assessment).

Often, it can just consist of trimming cotton ends and a brief glance at the garment. Other factories do a more detailed inspection. As the customer, you should not have to do a 100% inspection of every delivery, as it is very costly and time consuming, and it is the responsibility of the factory to check that the delivery is acceptable. However, it is essential that you do a check on the goods before accepting them.

Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) Inspection Chart in Apparel Industry:
Acceptable quality level (AQL) sampling plans are an internationally adopted method of determining the level of quality of a delivery by checking a percentage of the total quantity. A sample size of garments to inspect is determined by the quantity in the delivery and then the number of faulty garments you find after the inspection that you consider acceptable. If the number of faulty garments exceeds the acceptable level, then a 100% inspection is required. The following AQL inspection chart is the most commonly used in the apparel industry.

Table: AQL inspection chart in apparel industry


Acceptable quality level

The AQL inspection chart was developed by the military during the World War II to check munitions and has now been adapted for deliveries of all types of products, as the level of rejection can be loosened or tightened, depending on the requirements of your business. Here, we have an example of three levels of inspection used in the textile industry, and you can see that the 2.5 level allows less faulty garments than the 4.0 and 6.5 levels. You may decide to use 4.0 AQL for all your deliveries or, for example, use 2.5 AQL for more expensive luxury items.

It is important that your factories are aware of the level of inspection you will be using when checking deliveries at your warehouse or at their factory. Ideally, the factory should do its AQL inspection on each delivery before it is shipped. It is common today for companies to use independent inspection companies or, if you have a local office, use your own representatives to do the AQL inspection at the factory before goods are shipped. If the delivery fails the inspection, it can then be rectified before shipping. Whichever method or whomever we use for the inspection, our goal is ultimately to work with factories that build in quality checks at every stage of design and production, so that an AQL on their products becomes more routine than essential.


  1. The Fundamentals of Quality Assurance in the Textile Industry By Stanley Bernard Brahams
  2. Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye
  3. Noor Ahmed Raaz, “Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) in Garment Industry”

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  1. Sampling Plan in Apparel Industry with Example
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