Factors To Consider When Choosing A Clothing Manufacturer For Your Fashion Line

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It's an exhilarating time when you're ready to start choosing a clothing manufacturer for your new fashion line. There are so many factors to consider, getting it right is critical to your success.

Finding the right balance between product quality, price point, minimum order quantities, logistics, manufacturing speeds and reliability all constitute part of your decision making. To help make this simpler, and ensure you end up choosing a clothing manufacturer that is right for your fashion line, we have the following suggestions.

How To Locate Potential Clothing Manufacturers.

Always start with word of mouth. Referrals are always the best way of choosing a clothing manufacturer. If the number you can source is limited, then you may also want to consider other options such as researching other companies who make similar products to your own. Ask them who they use to manufacture their products. Lastly, you can try searching for suitable manufacturers on your own by using Internet searches. If you do find manufacturers who seem promising, ask for contact details of other companies they work for so you can get references. Having located your potential manufacturing companies, you now need to give them a full vetting.

Decisions such as whether you want to work with a manufacturer who is local to you, in your own country or based abroad are important. Small local manufacturers - although convenient - are also likely to be expensive, whereas those located overseas are liable to be a great deal cheaper. But they may also be a lot more inconvenient.

Key Factors To Consider When Choosing A Clothing Manufacturer.

The following list details what points to consider when choosing a clothing manufacturer.

1. Agents. Is it your intention to work directly with the manufacturer or would you prefer to work via an agent? Working direct will be less costly, but using an agent will free you up to concentrate on other areas.

2. Facilities. One of the tricky areas if you are looking at foreign factories is ensuring they are up to producing your designs. If quality is of high importance, as it should be, then this is a crucial area to get right. Many factories may be prone to exaggerating their competence just to get the work. If your clothing line is couture and requires specific expertise or equipment, it is as well to ensure you find out about every aspect and ask for samples of their work.

3. Referrals. Get a list of companies that the manufacturer works with, contact these companies and ask as much as you can about the competency, timekeeping, quality, delivery services and any other aspect you consider essential.

4. Honesty. Ensure the manufacturer will sign an agreement not to copy your design for themselves. This will give you recompense should you find a cheaper version of your design on the market.

5. Shipping and Customs. Clarify how shipping and customs will be handled. Are they to be your responsibility or the manufacturers?

6. Order Quantities. The minimum order quantity is likely to be a key area of concern depending on if your design is to be a small run, exclusive, designer garment or one for broad distribution. The smaller the MOQ is, the higher the ‘per unit’ cost will be. Many large factories have quite big MOQ's. This can work to your advantage if you plan on doing a big run, as price breaks are often given on specific trigger volumes. Be sure to find out what they are.

7. Samples. It is advisable to get samples sent from the manufacturers to show their workmanship, any specialist skills you require and general proficiency. Don't expect to get these samples for free. At the very least, you must be prepared to pay for shipping and customs, if not for the sample itself.

8. Timescales. What sort of turnaround time are you expecting for each product run? If you need your order by a particular date ensure the factory can complete it. Remember that shipping will also delay the arrival of your finished items. A first time order will often take longer, as the factory must be set up to create your specific design. Subsequent orders can usually be fulfilled more speedily.

9. Payment Terms. Find out about the factory’s payment terms. Is it 50% in advance and 50% on completion, or 100% upfront? If you are told the payment must be made 100% upfront, avoid using the factory.

10. Delays. Make sure that the contract you sign with the factory protects you against delays. There should be a penalty clause built into the agreement. If a factory is unwilling to provide you with this, then don't choose them.

When you have your final short list, choosing a clothing manufacturer should be quite simple. Think about which of them made you feel special, were interested in your product and gave a friendly and professional service. Compare them to each other and choose the one that is the best fit for your requirements. Remember, it isn't just about finding the factory offering the lowest prices! The overall attributes must be given due consideration for a happy partnership to be forged and maintained.

Mohamad Latiff Bin Rahim