FABRIC SELECTION AND SOURCING

When creating a clothing line one of the most important decisions that you will have to make is fabric selection and sourcing. Before you begin searching for a fabric supplier, decide on the materials that you want to use. Is your clothing going to be made from natural fabrics? Are you looking for a specific fabric such as pineapple leather? Once you have chosen your fabrics you will need to source them. You may need to conduct extensive research to source specific textiles that are not so readily available. It is important to understand the different sourcing options in order to decide on the most appropriate supplier for your fabrics.


To purchase textiles directly from the source you will need to source fabrics from a textile mill. This is where fabrics are weaved or knitted before they are sold to manufacturers or wholesalers. A fabric converter takes an unfinished product and finishes the garment to the buyer’s specifications. This includes processes like printing and dyeing to create the final product.


Whilst some designers choose to shop locally, many designers import their fabrics from other countries. It is important to note that the lead-time for receiving these fabrics can be three-to-four months so it is important to place your orders early if you are planning to import fabrics. Using a stockist wholesaler to source your clothing is an advantageous option as most wholesalers offer short lead times and ready-to-buy fabrics. Wholesalers buy finished products from manufacturers and sell these to retailers and manufacturers. Jobbers are fabric suppliers who purchase left over excess materials from manufacturers and textile mills. This is a great option for small manufactures as jobbers usually have very low minimum order requirements.


FABRIC SOURCING

Once you have decided on the type of company that you are going to source your fabrics from it is wise to collect as much information about the manufacturer as possible. When using a fabric manufacturer it is imperative to ask them for details of production and delivery lead times. This will enable you to schedule when you need to place your orders to make sure that the manufacturer is able to meet your deadlines.


Many clothing manufactures stipulate a minimum order quantity. If you are a start-up brand it may be worth searching for suppliers who require lower minimums. Make sure that you are ordering the correct amount of fabric by checking the sizes. Don’t assume that all material is sold at a standard width as this can vary across hand-woven and wholesale materials therefore it is important to check the sizes.


Before placing an order it is worth thinking ahead. If your product is a success you may wish to repeat the order and replenish your stock. Discuss stock availability with the manufacturer to ensure that you can reorder the fabric. Always check the pricing with your manufacturer by asking if they offer tiered or wholesale pricing. It is also important to make sure that you take into account your profit margin before purchasing your fabrics.


It is worth finding out about the manufacturers ethical considerations as you want their views to reflect your own and those of your brand. There are many different angles to consider when sourcing your fabrics and choosing a manufacturer. Make sure that you retain as much information as possible about the manufacturer and the fabrics that you are purchasing before placing an order.


By Taylor Ann Vaughan

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