Starting a clothing line is no easy task. There are many elements to consider, from designing the clothing and sourcing materials, to marketing and selling your products. But, one of the most important aspects of starting a clothing line is understanding the production process and preparing for manufacturing.
In this article, we’ll explain the key steps and factors in the clothing line production process, and offer tips for you on how to prepare for manufacturing. So, whether you’re just starting out, or you’re already well on your way to launching your own clothing line, read on for essential information on how to make the manufacturing process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
What Does the Manufacturing Process for Clothing Include?
The manufacturing process for clothing can be broadly divided into five key steps: design, sourcing, samples and prototypes, mass production, and sales to customers.
- Design: Designing the garments is obviously the first step. This is where you’ll decide on the styles, silhouettes, fabrics, and colors that you want to use for your clothing line. To get some inspiration, you can look at other clothing brands, fashion lines in other countries, or conduct trend research.
- Source Materials: Once you have a clear idea of the designs you want to create, you’ll need to source the materials. This step involves sourcing fabric, trim and other materials from suppliers. To find the best suppliers, you can search online directories, attend trade shows, or get recommendations from other clothing designers.
- Samples and Prototyping: With the necessary materials in-house, it’s time to create samples and prototypes. This step is important because it allows you to test the clothing designs and ensure they are feasible to mass produce. It’s also a good opportunity to make any necessary changes or adjustments to the designs.
- Mass Production: At this point, you will need to contract with a clothing manufacturer to mass produce the clothing. To accomplish this, you’ll want to negotiate the best pricing and ensure the clothing is made with the best quality under ethical treatment of the workers involved.
- Sales. Finally, after manufacturing, you’ll need to market and sell your clothing line to customers. This can be accomplished through your own website or ecommerce store, brick-and-mortar stores, or online marketplaces.
What Are the Key Manufacturing Factors to Consider?
There are a few key manufacturing factors that you need to take into account when planning for clothing production. These include lead time, minimum order quantities, manufacturing, shipping and cost.
- Lead time: The amount of time it takes to produce your clothing, from design concept to delivery, is considered your “lead time.” You will want to carefully assess your necessary lead time because customer demand for your clothing line may require you to manufacture clothing again and again. You’ll want to meet customer demand and keep up with fashion trends.
- Minimum order quantities: The minimum order quantity (MOQ) is the minimum number of clothing pieces that a manufacturer is willing to produce. This is important to consider because economies of scale come into play: the higher the quantity of items you order; the lower the price per item. Conversely, the lower the quantity of items you order, the higher the price per item. The quantity you order will definitely impact your total cost of production, the wholesale and retail price of the clothing line, and your profit margin after costs.
- Manufacturing: To find a manufacturer, start by asking associates if they know of a trustworthy, quality-driven manufacturing facility. Research the industry in the US or internationally, looking for manufacturers who produce clothing similar to your clothing line. When you inquire, be sure to ask for the lowest pricing possible and be willing to negotiate for rates that benefit your company. Don’t be afraid to negotiate! Negotiating is a common practice, as is courtesy to others in this process, as well. Be fair and firm about your pricing requests. Add discount requests if you follow with another order within a certain amount of time (3-6 months, for example). Use your position as the buyer to define the relationship. Finally, get a signed agreement with all details in writing before sending any deposits or agreeing to terms.
- Shipping Costs & Schedule: Depending on the location of your manufacturer, you will need to factor in 1) shipping costs for either US (domestic) or international delivery and 2) shipping schedules for your clothing line. For international deliveries, you can expect to pay a freight forwarder, ocean freight costs, US custom costs and shipment from the port of entry in the US to your location. At a minimum, this will take 4-6 weeks. For domestic deliveries, you will need to confirm with the carrier the length of time needed before your delivery will arrive, typically around 2-3 weeks, depending on the method of shipment.
- Cost is obviously a very important factor to consider when manufacturing clothing. The cost of production will depend on several factors, including the type of clothing to be manufactured, the materials used, the quantity produced, and the manufacturing process. Design, prototyping and shipping costs will add to the total cost, as well.
Preparing for the Manufacturing Process
There are a few key steps that you need to take in order to prepare for the clothing manufacturing process.
Have A Clear Vision For Your Clothing Line
Before you even start sourcing materials or looking for manufacturers, it’s important to have a clear vision for your clothing line. This means knowing exactly what type of clothing you want to produce, who the “customer” represents in your target market, and how your brand identity conforms to the manufacturing process.
This might seem like a lot of work, but having a clear vision for your clothing line will make the manufacturing process a bit easier. It will also help you to stay focused and avoid making any costly mistakes.
Do Your Research
The next step is to do your research. This means learning as much as you can about the clothing manufacturing process and the different options available to you. It’s also important to research clothing manufacturers and compare their prices and services.
To find the best manufacturer for your clothing line, it’s a good idea to get recommendations from other clothing designers. You can also search online directories or attend trade shows.
Create Detailed Specifications
Once you’ve found a clothing manufacturer that you want to work with, the next step is to create detailed specifications for your clothing designs. This means providing the manufacturer with information such as the type of fabric to be used, the colors, the sizing, and the desired finish. You may also want to specify the number of stitches per inch that you require, depending on the fabric and sewing thread being used.
Creating detailed specifications will help to ensure that your clothing is produced exactly as you want it. It will also help to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications between you and the manufacturer.
Know Your Budget
Before you start the manufacturing process, it’s important to know how much you can afford to spend. This will help you to choose the right clothing manufacturer and avoid any unexpected costs.
To get an accurate estimate of the cost of production, it’s a good idea to get quotes from several different clothing manufacturers. This will allow you to compare prices and choose the option that is most cost-effective for your clothing line.
The clothing manufacturing process can seem daunting, but if you take the time to prepare and do your research, it will be a lot easier. Just remember to have a clear vision for your clothing line, research your options, and create detailed specifications for your clothing designs. Proceed with manufacturing when you are satisfied that you are partnering with the best facility and know the costs for shipping before you begin. With these tips, you’ll be sure to have a successful manufacturing process for your clothing line.