6 Tips to Find the Right Clothing Manufacturer



Finding the right clothing manufacturer for your product and your business has never been easier and harder at the same time. Entering the world of fashion manufacturing can be a mix of initial excitement followed by angst, unnecessary expense, and frustration.

But if you give up now, then you never will know the joys of seeing your idea become a product you can touch and proudly show and sell.

By thoroughly researching the market you will find the right type of manufacturer. One that can do all they profess, for a fair price and the quality you require.

But in order to find THE right manufacturer, you need to forget all you think you know. In fashion manufacturing as in life in general, appearances can be deceptive.

What may look like an amazing factory at first glance, can bring your business down later. And one that looks small and not so “professional,” can be the best thing that happened to your business.

Let’s show you what to look out for in order to make the right selection.

1. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

The most important rule to always refer to and remember is to never assume anything.

Do not assume that all manufacturers can do everything that they say they can.

Do not assume that a sample you see is how the production will turn out to be.

Do not assume that they can meet your target price, execute to your standard, turn around your order on time, etc.

It is always a good idea to investigate further and visit many potential factories.

Ask lots of questions, look at the work they are doing and observe how they deal with customers and problems.

2. If They are Good at Everything, They are Good at Nothing

The fashion manufacturing industry is vast and diverse. There are so many product categories that factories can specialise on such as coating, separates, sportswear, knitwear, and tailoring, to name a few.

It’s important to select the right fashion manufacturer for your product and business stage.

If you are looking to make T-shirts, for example, you wouldn’t necessarily find the right manufacturer if you were to search for a womenswear factory.

The same applies to everything else.

Most factories specialise in the manufacture of certain products. Finding the right one for your set of specific needs can be a daunting experience.

If you are ever told by the owner or factory representative that they can make everything – let this be an alarm bell in your ear. Drill down for more information by asking many and varied questions.

Find out what they are really good at making.

One way to find the right fashion manufacturer and to check what their speciality is.

Ask to see examples of the work they do most of. Ask who their clients are – past and present, and enquire or see the type of machinery they have most of. Look at what they are working on now, while you are visiting them.

3. Factory Appraisals

If you are new to the world of fashion manufacturing, visiting as many factories as you can humanly do, to begin with, is invaluable. With every visit, you will learn something new.

No two factories are the same.

These visits will help you build a list of criteria in your mind that will help you with your future assessments and find the right fashion manufacturer.

When you visit factories, don’t be shy. This is your time to learn, observe and enquire.

4. Quality Control

It should be important to you that the factory has some quality control systems in place.

Ask to see some items that they have made for instance.

Secondly, enquire whether they have employees or external resources to check the product at key stages in its production.

If they don’t have a system in place, ensure that they’re open to you making visits to the factory, at key stages of the production process. This will enable you to leave with a good quality product.

5. Your Soft Skills Matter

The fashion industry is a very personable industry.

Much of the problems and successes can be found in the human relationships between the designer and manufacturer.

Yet often – the soft skills are overlooked and don’t make the checklist.

Do you feel comfortable with the manager and find communication straightforward and relatively seamless?

Spend some time at the factory to establish rapport and if you click with the factory manager, building a long-term relationship with them will be easier to navigate.

 

Fashion manufacturing is like dating. Sometimes you meet the right one right at the beginning and other times – it takes a while before you find your match.

6. Know Your Product

You cannot and will not find the right maker if you are unprepared and unfamiliar [enough] with the industry, your design and business.

Try to be as well informed as possible about the manufacturing processes used to make your products.

Your understanding of this necessity will enable you to gauge whether the factory knows what they’re talking about.

If the manufacturer is sourcing something on your behalf, make sure that it meets your quality criteria before it is used.

Conclusion

Fashion manufacturing is like dating. Sometimes you meet the right one right at the beginning and other times – it takes a while before you find your match.

But, if you begin the process early enough if you are clear on your needs and expectations and leave yourself plenty of time to visit factories and even sample with a few that made the short list – you will find the right manufacturing partner.

And remember – arm yourself with good common sense, networking skills and an open mind. These are the must-have qualities that will serve you well on your journey. And a journey you’ll have for sure.

Despite the many directories and contacts available online, an in-person visit will be the only sure way to get closer to finding THE ONE.