What To Note When Manufacturing Your Brand's Clothing In China

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We often hear how important it is for us to support the local economy, so why would you choose the option of manufacturing your brand's clothing in China? Let's take a look at the pros and cons and see.

What are the benefits of manufacturing clothing in China?

  1. Cost. It is undeniable that the cost of manufacturing clothing in China is less than it would be in the US. Even when you factor in the cost of shipping and import duties, the overall cost can often be significantly less. Unless you are a high-end luxury brand, price is everything and the less it cost you to make your clothing, the higher profits you can make.

  2. Quality and Service. Just because the cost is lower, there is no reason to believe you will be compromising the quality of your goods or the service you will receive. The Chinese people are big on respect. This means they will respond to your emails promptly and do their best to meet your needs. The quality of the products will be dependent on your initial brief, and it is during the product specification, testing and trial period that you need to iron out exactly what you are expecting. If you approve a high-quality product, then that is what you will receive.

  3. Faster Turnaround Times. Chinese factories and work ethics are based on efficiency. If you want the product delivered promptly in a short time-frame, then you will be far more likely to achieve it by using a factory based in China rather than one in the US.

  4. Higher Output Rate. The faster turnaround times are achieved by a more substantial output rate. The number of employees at a Chinese factory will usually outstrip the number in any US factory. This means more product produced faster.

  5. Replication. The Chinese factories are experts at replication. This means if there is a brand of shirt or pants that you particularly like, the Chinese can replicate the same type of fit for your own brand. Obviously directly ripping off other brands will bring down a hailstorm of grief, but merely utilizing other brands you like, to use some of the features you enjoy, is not a problem.

What Are The Downfalls Of Manufacturing Clothing In China?

  1. Sourcing. It can be more difficult to source a suitable factory that is a clothing manufacturer in China. The logistics are that China is a long way from home and it's easier to go with what you know.

  2. Communications and Language Barriers. Mandarin, or Putonghua, is the official language of China and over 70% of the population speak it. There are other dialects too; these include Cantonese or Yue, Hunanese or Xiang, then Min, Gan, Wu, Kejia and Hakka dialects. When dealing with a Chinese factory, they won't expect you to speak any Chinese and will converse with you in English – well their form of English, which you will quickly learn to understand. It is possible for things to get confused during translation, so be very sure you both understand everything thoroughly before moving forward with anything.

  3. Prejudice. Both the US and China are proud nations, with different socio economic beliefs and backgrounds. Historically, some of the products being produced in China were of low quality. This has brought about an element of prejudice against products made in China. Chinese manufacturing has come a long way since then, and they will produce exactly what you ask for. So if you ask for a product of low quality, then that is precisely what you'll get. If you make the effort to ensure your product is made well, with good quality specifications, then you will receive what you ask for.

  4. Minimum Order Quantities. Due to the meager profit margins in the Chinese factories, they work in high volumes to offset this. This means that for the most part, their minimum order quantities are quite high. This differs from factory to factory, so shop around.

  5. Shipping and Import Duties. Shipping from a factory based in China in comparison to shipping from another place in the US will be dramatically higher. Then you have to factor in import duties and the length of time shipping and customs will take to process your goods before you eventually receive them. This said, if your volumes are large enough, and your timescale long enough, then you can still make significant savings by manufacturing your brand's clothing in China.

  6. Quality. The quality of your goods can sometimes be compromised. It's difficult to stay on top of quality control when you can't drop in and check your items. Correct sizing is often one of the most significant issues. For this reason, using an agent who is responsible for this can be a useful asset. They are tasked with ensuring the quality of the goods produced is up to the standard you specified. Problems with quality can happen in any factory, anywhere in the world. It is a matter of ensuring quality control safeguards are implemented to counter this.

  7. Economic and Political Unpredictability. This is a factor wherever you are in the world and however stable you consider your economy or political situation to be. Unexpected changes occur and can have a significant impact on the price of raw materials, labor costs, exchange rates and so on.

Deciding if manufacturing your brand's clothing in China is the best choice for your business isn't always an easy call. However, you can experience just as many problems working with a factory based in the US. It depends on what you need from your manufacturer.

John Tay