As an entrepreneur or a budding designer, finding the right garment manufacturer can be challenging. Most of the time, finding the right one will allow you to secure good quality garments at a reasonable price if you have done your research and due diligence.
Starting your own brand and finding the right producer is not a simple task, especially if you are not in this industry, however there are key points that you can research further to place you on the right path.
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Getting started in the apparel industry is an essential step for anyone wanting to become successful. There are many resources out there that can help you get started, but without a proper education, you may not be able to access them. Therefore, research online, check out the influencers, network on LinkedIn, check where the next industry shows will be and keep checking our Industry Calendar for the new 2022 show dates.
Firstly Find Out Your Factories (MOQ) Your First Question
When starting out, lower order quantities are required and its not easy to find the right factory willing to take a new customer on. Generally when starting if your initial orders will be low in quantity then you need to try to find local manufacturing. Once the brand develops and you have started to build your business with increasing orders then you will be able to take the production offshore. So always, start by finding out what the factories Minimum Order Quantity is (MOQ).
The small runs are costly for a factory no matter the size of the facility, so initially you will be paying more for your product. The cost of producing locally is due to higher salaries, unsubsidised energy costs and employees contributions as an example.
When producing a garment its all about the time it takes to produce that item, the more complicated, the more time, hence a higher cost. However, by producing locally there are many advantages
- Hugely reduced shipping costs
- No import costs
- You will be able to check regularly on your garments production
- You can save costs by checking the quality of the product being produced yourself
- Quicker lead times
- React quickly to repeat orders (that’s where the money is made)
Domestic or local production should be considered when producing under 300-500pcs. It is possible to find factories who produce less offshore, however transport, importation costs etc will not really make it worthwhile unless your brand fits into the luxury area where you have a high selling price like a designer brand.
What Garments Can The Factory Make ? What Restrictions Do They have ?
The next step is to make sure the factory can produce the product that you need. Firstly, do they make knitted or woven garments? Do they make both? What types of garments do they make ?
Remember not every factory can make every type of garment, there are factories that are multi product, however you will find in the main that they produce only certain garments and that’s what they are experienced at. Do not push them to make a other garments unless they have experience producing it, otherwise you could have potential issues.
Check the garments they have made for other customers, check the showroom if they have one and discuss clearly your requirements.
Obviously you are going to need fabric, most domestic or local factories offer only a CMT service (Cut Make Trim) this means they want you to give them the fabric and trimmings (aka accessories, labels, pos tickets) try and find your own supply base to ensure you have total control where possible.
The factory will give you a CMT price for cutting the fabric, constructing the garment, finishing and packaging it for you.
In terms of fabric if you need more understanding about fabrics, check out our guide on
Digital Printing 101 where you will get a simple understanding of how easy it is to print a design with very small or no minimum order quantity.
The Production Process
The critical part of this is ensuring that the garment you are going to get made fits in every size correctly and that the fabric you are using is the correct fabric for that product that will give it the “Wow Factor” you are looking for.
You will also need a pattern cutter who will do the initial pattern, then a grader (generally the same person) who will make the different patterns for each size. Testing is important, you do not need to do this on every size, however don’t get this wrong, if it don’t fit you will get returns, so be on point and ensure you get the fit right.
Make sure that you go through each point with the factory; they should help you in some areas and can advise freelancers and companies that can supply what you will need to get your garment made, however just make sure you work independently with any supplier so you control everything from the price to the deadlines you need.
Industry Insider Tips
- When you find a good factory, keep them and look after them as they are very hard to find.
- Do not try to send your orders offshore until you have proved that the product you will be making can sell, as explained on small quantities there will not be a huge saving and new brands need to be on top of their first orders especially, so producing locally should be how you start.
- Networking at trade shows, fabric and trimming suppliers is very important. Everyone knows someone, has had the experience and maybe can recommend good companies and freelancers to work with.
- Check out the Drapers Record online which is the industries go to trade magazine that gives you all the latest info on whats going on in the industry and is a good resource for understanding the sentiment of the market.