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Fabric is one of the most critical components of any garment. Whether you’re designing your own line or working with clients to bring their designs to production, you’ll need to find the suitable fabric for your project.
Sourcing for fabrics can be a complicated process. Understanding your needs, exploring your options, and reaching out to the right vendors are essential.
Make a List
Identifying your needs, exploring the various options available to you and then making a decision is no small feat. It might be a good idea to consult a professional to help you through the fashion fabric sourcing process. After all, finding a supplier that understands your unique requirements and is on the lookout for your next big idea is essential. And remember to consider the costs in terms of money and time.
This will help you choose the most appropriate supplier for your project and avoid a costly disaster. Finally, be sure to take into consideration repeat orders. This will save you the dreaded headache of wondering where to turn when your supplier goes under.
Understand Your Needs
You must understand your needs before starting the fabric-sourcing process. Please do this to avoid unnecessary delays and costs.
First, identify the type of garments you will be making. This will help you narrow down the kinds of fabrics you need to source.
Next, look for suppliers that can meet your budget and timeline. Check the minimum order quantities for the fabrics you are interested in.
Many manufacturers have clear order minimums for specific fabrics. These may be several hundred yards of fabric, which is too much for a beginning designer to afford.
Also, remember that some fabric manufacturers will discontinue their inventory at their discretion. This is an important consideration, especially for brands who plan to repeat a particular fabric season after season.
Finally, finding fabric suppliers that offer a reliable, long-term supply of fabrics is crucial. This can help ensure that you have a consistent line of gorgeous products for your customers to wear and enjoy.
Explore Your Options
Fabric sourcing can be overwhelming, no matter where you are. It’s a lot of work to research the market, get prices and samples, reach out to factories and suppliers, and figure out what you’re looking for!
There are several methods to circumvent this problem. One is to go directly to the manufacturers. They will often hold large – usually discontinued – fabric lots in stock and be ready to ship them to you as soon as you need them.
Another option is to visit trade shows. This can be a helpful way to interact with other designers or brands and get a sense of various fabrics.
Many of these shows also feature low minimum suppliers.
Some suppliers have a minimum order quantity of a few hundred yards. This may be too much for a start-up to order, so look for alternative options with lower minimums or negotiate terms and settle on a compromise that works for you.
If you have a few choices for your fabric, try reaching out to them to find out more. This can be a lot of work, but it can help you better understand your options and the fabric that will suit your needs best.
The best way to approach a fabric supplier is to send them a quick email with a photo of the fabrics you like and a description of what type of construction you need it for (knit, woven, etc.). You can even ask them to send you a professional fabric suggestion!
This is crucial when sourcing your fabric because it will help you know what questions to ask and what red flags to look for. You can also use these proven email templates to help you make sure your message gets read and that they take you seriously. Taking the time to do this will be worth it when you’re ready to reach out! This guide covers the entire process and gives you a zoomed-out view of all the steps.
Make a Decision
Choosing the right fabric supplier can be tricky, but with the proper research and creativity, you can make the process as seamless as possible. It all starts with understanding your needs and how to best leverage the industry’s shifting trade landscape.
One thing you’ll want to look at is pricing. It can significantly impact your overall profit margin, so it’s essential to check out wholesale and tiered pricing options.
Another factor you’ll want to consider is fabric quality. This includes how it’s treated during manufacturing, whether the supplier is committed to on-time delivery and what kind of response they’ve had to quality issues.
Now that you’ve researched, drawn up a list of potential vendors and spoken with them, it’s time to decide. There is no more effective way to achieve this than by determining your company’s precise needs and objectives and then consider your options. This will enable you to reduce your chances and give you the clarity you need to make an informed decision that will benefit your company.