6 Mistakes To Avoid When Getting Your Clothes Made
Now that you have a Tech Pack, the next step is of course getting your clothes made. But first you need to find somewhere to make them.
Where to start?
The options for manufacturing your clothes are endless. The production process, although not always easy... Will be worth it on the other end, once you're holding your custom clothing.
It's important to choose factories that are right for you and your products. Like any relationship, the foundations you put down will reflect in the final product.
1. Choosing The Wrong Factory
You’ve got your Tech Pack in your hot little hands - now you have to choose a factory.
Think about choosing a factory like this: You’re not going to hire a trained chef to do your digital marketing. If you want something done right, you hire the right person to do it.
Same goes for factories. Different countries and provinces specialise in difference things For example, India is known for their silk, dyeing and detailed embellishment work. Australia for their Wool. Bangladesh for their Cotton. And Countries such as China, for their ActiveWear skills.
So when you see a Made in China care label, know this…
China is at the forefront of innovative textiles and garment manufacturing. Their fabrication and construction of activewear is some of the best in the world.
You just have to know where to look.
There are a few things to check off your list when finding the right factory for you.
Why a higher factory MOQ is better for you.
A high MOQ will generally indicate better internal processes such as quality control. Whereas smaller MOQ factories probably don’t have the resources to support quality control.
We understand that when you’re starting it’s not commercially viable to have huge MOQs, however it’s just as important to think about the bigger picture. When your brands starts to take off, a factory with low MOQ’s quickly becomes a problem, rather than a partner.
Instead of searching for a factory with a low MOQ, find a large factory and convince them to produce a lower quantity to start off with.
Alternatively… Find a company with established supplier relationships, and you can use their buying power. This means you won’t have to compromise quality by using lesser factories. And you most likely won’t have to order 3000 of one style when starting out.
When you start to grow, you want to have started with a higher MOQ factory. This way you won’t have to go through the painful process of finding a new factory to handle larger orders.
Like any good relationship, communication is key.
You don’t want to be working with a factory that is lax on letting you know what’s going on. It’s important to have active communication with your factory. You need this across sampling, production, accurate timelines and much more.
A factory that doesn’t talk to you, is probably one that doesn’t care about producing a quality product either.
What you see, is not always what you get.
For peace of mind, it’s important to know where your products are being made.
Many factories will show you photos of one place, but your products may not be getting made there. If you can, try to visit your chosen factory. This is vital if you are to ensure your products are ethically manufactured.
If you don’t have the luxury of dashing overseas for a sneaky production and sourcing trip. Be mindful that who you choose to work should have visible ethical life-cycles. And are aware of their social responsibility. Find a company who offers the full service, design through to manufacturing. These companies will have great supplier relationships already for you.
Be wary of mass manufacturer websites.
If you’re going to source manufacturers solo, be wary of finding your own factory online.
You want a factory that is transparent about what they’ve produced and where. If there is no way for you to cross check this, with the information they’ve provided - stay away.
2. Your Social Responsibility When Starting A Custom Brand
Social Responsibility is an ethical structure that is beneficial for society at large. Think of it as a symbiotic relationship between the economy and ecosystems. It is a duty for us as both individuals and organisations to maintain.
Like activewear has become a huge fashion phenomen, ethical awareness has also blossomed.
Consumers aren't only concerned about the final product. They are concerned about how it got there too. Any good brand will outline their Social Responsibility for you to find on their website. Same goes for good factories.
This way you know your factory’s textile workers are earning fair wages. And working in a safe environment.
Transparency is key.
You need to think about this when launching your own custom activewear brand.
People will ask, and you better know where your products are coming from. If not for your customers, but for your own peace of mind.
3. Understanding The Importance Of Sampling
The Important Of Accurate Tech Specs
The whole point of getting a tech pack made is so your garment is constructed correctly. You have spent all this time ensuring everything on paper is right. Now it’s time to see that it all fits right.
The tech pack will be the universal language between you and your factory.
It is your point of reference. The factory will be cutting a pattern from your specification files (included in your Tech Pack) to make a fit sample.
Once you receive your fit sample, you will be measuring it against your specs to check accuracy. This is where you will be able to make minor adjustments - such as a shorter hem, straps, moving pockets. It’s also a chance to see whether your factory has paid attention to the tech packs.
It’s normal for your fit sample to not be in the colour you ordered. It’s purely to get a feel for fit and fabrication. Swatches are generally supplied of your chosen colour and fabric.
Pre Production Sample (PPS)
Once your Fit Sample has been approved, and if needed, adjusted. You will need to make sure your Tech Pack is adjusted accordingly as well.
You can now move into bulk production. Bulk Production will provide you with a PPS, which will be made from your chosen fabric & finishings. This will be the closest thing to a finished product. Now is the time to ensure all your branding and construction is 100%.
Think of samples as testing a new recipe. You want to practise & perfect it, so you can serve it to all your friends.
4. Good Things Take Time.
Don’t expect that you’re going to have a Tech Pack and have your finished product the next week.
Be prepared for sampling and production times. You may not get your fit sample right the first time around. Sourcing your perfect fabric might take longer than expected. Custom dyeing your fabric might add weeks on to production.
Communicate with your factory about timelines, and stay on-top of it.
I know at this point, we’re repeating ourselves - but make sure your Tech Pack is perfect. A well constructed tech pack will mean easier communication with your factory.
5. Production & Quality Control.
It’s important to have in place proper quality control processes during & after production.
You want consistency across the board for your product.
As your Custom Activewear is going to be hand-made, mistakes will occur. It’s important to have QC processes implemented. Both in the factory, and after you receive bulk stock.
Factory acceptable standards might not be as high as your brands standards. It’s important to communicate what is going to pass the mark.
Cue TECH PACK.
A well made Tech Pack will have all your fabrications, construction and size measurements. Along with your PPS & Fit Sample, your finalised Tech Pack should ensure what you want created happens seamlessly in bulk manufacturing.
Once you receive bulk stock, you will need to check to see if your garment is correct against your Tech Pack.
6. Being Prepared For Shipping & Customs.
When planning to receive your product its important to budget shipping and customs. This also goes for pricing your product (but we will go into that later).
If your factory or production company has provided you a quote, what does it include? There are many different types of shipping to consider. Some of which are not ideal to use.
Or you could get yourself a production company who can handle it for you.
Not only do you want to check prices - you will need to check times.
Air Freight is quicker, but more expensive. Sea Freight will be more cost effective, but can push back delivery into weeks - even months.
Just kidding, it’s far from simple - but there’s help out there to make it easy for you.
Make a check-list of the following, and ask yourself each of these as you move along.
Do I Have The Right Factory?
If you don’t know how to choose the right factory - choose a business that does know.
Am I Happy With The Ethical Life-cycle Of My Activewear?
Does this product reflect my social responsibility in a positive way?
Are My Fit Samples Right?
Have my Tech Pack’s been correctly used by the factory?
Am I Aware Of My Timelines?
Do I know when my products are going to be with me? Is this being properly communicated?
Do I Have Quality Control Processes In Place?
Are my garments meeting my Tech Pack specifications - before, during and after bulk manufacturing?
Am I Prepared For Shipping & Customs?
Have I factored this into timelines & costings? If so how do I add this successfully?
If you make the first mistake of choosing the wrong factory, the rest will surely follow. That’s why sometimes you need to partner with a company that takes out all the unknowns for you. Starting out, there’s no way that you’ll be an expert at manufacturing clothes. It sometimes takes years to build solid supplier relationships.
If you’ve gotten this far and you’re afraid to take the next step into manufacturing - don’t be. We can take your design & tech pack and bring your vision across the line.
Sally Cordukes - Slyletica Brand Associate