product development

560 315 Zack Hurley

Get started with our one-stop guide to clothing design & development

It’s one thing to dream of being a fashion designer, and another to take the first steps towards making that dream a reality. The truth of fashion design and entrepreneurship is that a lot goes on behind the seams (see what we did there?) and top fashion designers do a good job of making it look easy even when it’s not. But, that doesn’t mean fashion design has to stay a dream. Fashion design – like anything else – can be broken down into steps, and we’ve written up a 2000-word primer on getting started. If you want the quick and dirty version, download our one-page cheat sheet. Once you have that ready, you’re ready to approach development houses and manufacturers to get started on your first fashion collection.  

What do you mean by ‘development’?

Development is one of three stages that goes into producing a fashion collection. The first is design, which we cover here under the assumption that you didn’t graduate from design school, the second is development, and the third is production. The difference between fashion design grads and people like you and me who didn’t graduate from design school – but still want a collection to call our own – is that design and development get more blurred.

Here’s an example. A fashion school grad will arrive at development with fleshed out designs (never mind that they’ll undergo a lot of modifications). A woman who already has a career in finance but wants to start an athleisure line might approach a development house with just a concept or idea – and the development house will work with her on setting the stage for development. The challenge is that the financier might not know how to get started on those specifications, and that’s where this guide comes in.

Let’s put it this way: design is the summary of specifications that describe your collection, development is the building and engineering of your designs, and manufacturing is producing designs affordably at scale. Consider this guide technical design for non-designers, a nitty gritty guide for the rest of us. Let’s get started and, if at any point, you need to take the dog for a walk or start dinner, you can always download our cheat sheet in an instant.

Inspiration

Get your inspiration together. Whether it’s Evernote, Pinterest, or a scrapbook, start collecting the bits and pieces that will describe your brand and first collection. Be methodical about gathering your inspiration and honing your idea. You’ll want:

  • Colors – what colors will define your concept? Do you have a sailor motif with navy blues and whites, or is your swimsuit line playing homage to spring with soft pastels? Go as specific as possible with Pantone color codes, but also get ready to be flexible if superior fabrics in other colors prevail. Either way, have a color palette in mind.
  • Construction – how do you see your styles being constructed? A navy motif might require jackets to be double-breasted, a maternity line will need extra give at the waist. Are you inspired by the zipped up propriety of the early 60s or do you prefer the loose lines of the 90s?
  • Fabric – what fabrics are you in love with? Your athleisure line may require moisture-wicking polyesters, your male beach line might be a natural fit for the briskness of linens, or your eco-friendly line might need all materials to be locally and sustainably sourced.
  • Trims – whether it’s convenient pockets or frilly lace, start collecting examples of trims that are essential to the designs that inspire you.
  • Reference samples – Reference samples, or physical examples of colors, construction, fit, or fabric, will be immensely helpful. Maybe a dress from Zara’s summer line captures the fit you want around the hips, or a thrift store jacket gets the collar you want exactly right. Don’t be afraid to go out and hand-pick clothes that inspired your collection and bring them to your development team.
  • Artwork – do you want to incorporate graphics, appliques, or embroidery? If you don’t have anything specific in mind, at least have a general idea of what you’re looking for so a development time can help you source it.

Throughout the process of gathering your inspiration, you might note that designers or specific themes and pieces pop up repeatedly. Pay attention to those: the designers will help you understand target market and marketing strategies; the themes and pieces will help you put together your collection.

Target Market

As you look over your inspiration, you’ll start to understand who you’re designing for. Pay attention to this because it will become the foundation of your future marketing. Is it linen suits for vacationing, well-to-do men? It is a party line for partying twenty-something women? Is it eco-friendly, organic clothes for toddlers? Your target market, especially in the beginning, should be as specific as possible, and can help you hone your collection in the beginning. Ask yourself, what do men vacationing in the Hamptons look for in their summer wardrobe? How can you help a woman stand out at an LA club? What do eco-minded mothers who like to dress up their kids look for in clothes? Encourage this back and forth until you hone a collection that both inspires you and makes sense to your target market.  

Competitive Research

Now, take those designers who keep inspiring you and ask yourself two questions: how well are they doing and what can you do better than them? What are the competitors price points, trends and value propositions. Review your competitors success as a brand along side your potential sales and market potential.

Hone it

Now it’s time to come up with a collection plan. You want to approach your development team with a cohesively designed collection of possible outfits. While you don’t necessarily need good sketches of all the garments – a full-service development team can help you with this – you will need a detailed concept.

Timeline

Now, let’s take a step back and get into the nitty gritty. What’s your timeline for development and production? Every project needs a goal. Fashion collections are typically developed over 6 months in time to be ready for the new season. To get moving towards your goal, you’ll want to have a sample delivery date, a production delivery date, and you’ll want to time these with any investment rounds or marketing initiatives you have planned, for example a website launch or a Kickstarter campaign. As always, work backwards from important events, but make sure to allocate at least 6 weeks for development and 6 weeks for production. If you approach a manufacturer in May looking to launch a swimsuit collection in June, the manufacturer will first laugh at you on the inside and then charge you exorbitant rush fees.

Priorities

Decide, what are your priorities for your line? Price, quality, or speed. Rank them in order of importance and recognize that any two will require you to sacrifice the third. If you must have that swimsuit collection in a month, go big or go home, you’ll likely sacrifice price and to some extend quality. On the flip side, if you approach a development house in December for your summer line, you won’t have to sacrifice quality and you’ll be able to manage costs too. Ask yourself, what’s most important to you and what are your priorities given your timeframe?

Word of advice: “Always care for high quality and don’t compromise the sewing process.” -Meir Yamin, Founder of Donnatella Dresses

Budget

This is the hard part and requires a deeper dive which we will be releasing soon – sign up here to receive it. What’s your budget? Are you self-funding your collection, raising angel funds, or doing a crowdfunding campaign? Put another way, how much are you willing to risk on a new venture? Once you have a number, you can start putting together a development, manufacturing, and marketing budget.

Production Numbers

How many styles will you produce and how many units of each? A word of caution – it’s always better to start small and test your market. Even with competitive research, even with target market feedback, even with crowdfunding campaigns, there are a lot of variables that go into marketing and selling a new collection and you can never be certain how your first launch will go. It’s better to sell out than get stuck with extra inventory. Of course, the smaller the run, the more expensive your cost per unit, so you will want to find a happy place that gives you the data you need while allowing you to take advantage of some economy of scale.

Sizes

How will you size your collection? Does your collection require 10 sizes, or will a baseline of S, M, and L suffice? For new collections, simpler is always better.

Style 1

Now is the time to get into the specifics of your individual styles. Repeat this step for each style you’re planning.

Name & Description

Give it a name. Give it a description. This will smooth communication and guide your team.

Target Retail Price Point:

The simple yet not so simple question which must be answered: what is your customer willing to pay for your product? Here’s where the above market research comes into play by looking at other products in your market, their price points and the people who buy those products. Once you know your retail price points you can start to build out a budget for manufacturing costs, operations, marketing, and more.

Manufacturing Target Cost

Generally, the manufacturing target cost is a standard fraction of how you retail price each style. To arrive at manufacturing target costs, you can look to your competitors to see how they price their pieces and then work backwards to a cost. These numbers will help guide you as you choose materials, trims, and more.

Reference Sample

Reference samples are existing clothing pieces that are similar to what you eventually want to design. Whether you have one or several, reference samples can help shorten the design time-frame and speed up development, especially when you approach a development team with a concept rather than refined specifications. The reference sample can guide you in:

  • Base sample size – what a small or size 2 will look like
  • Sample fits – how your first sample will fit
  • Fabrics and trims – target materials for sourcing

Think of your reference sample as a baseline for your designs.

Sourcing

You will do the physical sourcing of fabrics during the development stage, but the more you know about the particular fabrics you want, the better, especially if your reference samples don’t quite capture it. Pinpoint information on any of the following:

  • Main fabrics including color, weight, composition, and type
  • Contrast fabrics including color, weight, composition, and type
  • Dyeing or washing directions
  • Trims, i.e. buttons, closures, and elastics

Word of advice: “To save time and money during the design phase, don’t work with too many fabrics or trims.” -Meir Yamin, Founder of Donnatella Dresses

Labels

Would you like your label to be printed or sewn in? What about the care label – should it be tear away or something custom?

Artwork

Is any artwork essential to your styles? If so, specific in much detail as possible what you’re looking for:

  • Type, i.e. silkscreen, sublimation (custom dyeing), patches, embroidery, or something else
  • The location of the artwork
  • The size of the artwork
  • Graphics or colors

Pattern Making & Fit Instructions

This is where you’ll share with your development team how much you want your final design to differ from your fit reference sample. What kind of changes do you want to make to it? Do you want to change any shapes, add or reduce length, remove or add details. At the end of the day, the reference sample is just a reference sample. Why did you pick it and just how meaningful is it to your final designs?

Construction & Sewing Notes

Do you have any final notes on style construction or sewing. Do you want to add or remove any seams, or match how sewing is done exactly on the reference sample?  Do you want to add or remove any details, like pockets, zippers, drawcords, or patches? Are there any details that are non-negotiable? Different sewing methods have varying time

Decide on your team

Now that you have a good idea of your styles, it’s time to get your team in place for development. Generally, smaller businesses can go one of two routes in choosing a development team: they can select and coordinate their team by hand or go to a development house. There are, of course, pros and cons to each:

  • Team: a team should include in the least a patternmaker and a sewer/cutter, preferably in one place to save on time and money. The benefit to putting together your own team is that you will save money; the drawback is that it is inherently riskier and will require much more time and management. You’ll need to oversee everything and design a system that encourages good communication and minimizes costly mistakes. This can be extra challenging if your first collection is a side pursuit in addition to a full-time job.
  • Development House: a development house is an in-house team of experts in sourcing, pattern making, cutting, sewing, and printing, etc. The benefit is that they likely have a wealth of experience and established relationships within the supply chain. They will be able to consult with you while expediting the development and manufacturing stages. The drawback is that they will be more expensive, but they’ll also be less risky.  

Next up? Development!

Once you have all of this down, your development team can get started on the hard work of sourcing and preparing samples of your styles – and you will start the hard work of guiding the whole process until your vision becomes a reality. That’s what we call development! At the end of development, you’ll have a tech pack, or final design specifications, and a salesman sample. Are you ready to get started? Download our cheat sheet today and start channeling your inspiration into your very own fashion collection.

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5 Budget Mistakes To Avoid As a New Designer

Costing and pricing are among the most difficult – and most crucial – decisions new designers undertake in building their first line. The financial logic that goes into launching a successful fashion line can be counter-intuitive and sometimes requires that we readjust the way we approach costing and pricing. After many years helping burgeoning designers get started on their brands, I’ve come up with a list of the 5 most frequent false starts that hinder new designers.

1. STOP ASKING: “How much does it cost?”

The problem with the “how much does it cost”question is that costs are just one part of the equation. Costs alone won’t tell you if your business is viable. Is $1,000 a lot? Or is $10,000 more realistic? Do I really need $100K to start this line? When you look at costs first without understanding your business and how your business fits into the market at large, you’re really only thinking about your current spending habits. But starting a business isn’t the same as shopping at Forever 21. Comparing a capital investment in your business to the cardigan you bought last week isn’t the best way to grow a lucrative business.

Instead, everything comes down to risk. The question isn’t, “How much does it cost?” but “How much am I willing to invest – or risk – in the business?” If that number is identifiable as one part of your overall business objectives, and you’re clear about it, then congratulations, you now have what we call a budget. Your budget will drive your decision making and, once you decide your budget is the #1 priority over price or quality, then you will find a way to either:

  1. Make costs work within your budget, or
  2. Realize this business is not for you and you want to start a service business that requires less startup capital

2. START ASKING: “What is a customer willing to pay for my product?”

Many new designers fall into the habit of looking at pricing as “cost plus”: understand the costs and then add a profit margin, but there are two main problems with this approach. First, this approach mentally chains you to the product, rather than to the customer, and leaves you vulnerable to changes in customer preference. Second, when costs increase, and they will, you will suffer from established prices and lower profit margins. “Cost plus” leaves you doubly at the whim of the market. Instead, the question is, “What is a customer willing to pay for my product?” and for that you have to roll up your sleeves and do some research. The first follow-up question is:

“Is there something comparable in the market to my product?”

If YES, we’ve got more to figure out:

  1. What products in the market are competing with your’s and how are your’s different?
  2. What are the price points of the competing products on the market?
  3. Who is buying these competing products? Is it a different demographic than you expected?

List out these answers in an excel document to start putting together your market research. This is preliminary, but will give you a great starting point for pricing your product. Once you know your retail price points you can start to build out a budget for product cost, operations, marketing, and more.

IF NO:

Then, good news!  You now have the opportunity to pave the way for something unique and entirely different than anything in the market.  With no competition, you’re in a great position! On the other hand, you may not have a market for your product either. Your job will be to make your prototype sample and take it out into the market to test viability before you begin to produce at scale. For steps on how to do this, see last week’s post on how to start a fashion line that sells.

3. Remember that developing your product has a cost separate from production

While you may be excited to get started, try not to get ahead of yourself! Before producing 300 units to turn a profit, you need to build prototypes and samples of your products. This stage is called the product development stage. It is the most important phase in the creation of your business. This is where you get to source fabrics, engineer your fit, and create the styles you’ve envisioned. The product development costs vary according to how many products you’re developing, the complexity of the products, and the source materials. At the end of the process, you’ll understand exactly how much your cost per unit will be when going into the next big stage: production.

4. Build a budget for your Proof of Concept (PoC) and Market Fit Testing

If your company wants to stay lean, the best recommendation is not to rush into production after creating your samples. Instead, go to the market and talk to your consumers to gather insight. It would be even better if you can get pre-orders! Take this time to create strategies to build awareness and buzz for your product. Use brand ambassadors, social media advertising, and sampling events to create demand and test marketing channels and messaging. While these ideas can be costly, it’s better to lose a few thousand to find out that your idea isn’t viable than to spend a hundred thousand only to realize nobody wants to buy your product. Include in your budget line items for market fit testing and decide what success would look like.

The ideas below will cost you almost nothing:

  • Convince retail shops to let you put your samples in their shop and watch how customers react to your product
  • Give out gift cards and other promotional goods to potential consumers to take surveys about your product
  • Go out and earn your first paying 30 customers and make them excited about your product. Give them something special for believing in your vision and pre-ordering. Just make sure you and your manufacturer are very clear about how many weeks production will take so you can keep your delivery promises.

5. Invest 100% of the profits back into your company

When starting out, it is absolutely important to put any profits back into the company. By putting every cent that you make back into your business, the business revenue has a chance to stabilize. A stable business can pay dividends throughout your life. In addition to having a marketing budget from the get-go, use the profits from your sales to invest in more marketing, development, and production where needed. Remember not to overproduce and, once you have a hold on inventory, make sales and marketing your number one priority.

How To Create a Clothing Line Budget in 5 Steps
560 315 Jesse Dombrowiak

How To Create a Clothing Line Budget in 5 Steps

One of the first questions we ask our new development clients at the beginning stages of creating a clothing line is “what is your budget for the project?” Most new designers and entrepreneurs have no idea. We know that creating a budget can be overwhelming when you’re first starting out, so we decided to outline a few important budget components that we share with all of our clients.

Here are five steps for putting together a budget for your new clothing line.

1. How much can you spend in total?

It might seem elementary, but the first step to devising a budget for your project is to look at your finances and determine how much you can spend in total. Lots of new clients will say they do not have a budget, and that they are willing to spend whatever it takes to get their clothing brand up and running.

But, let’s be honest, most of us do not have an unlimited pile of cash to funnel into a new business. So sit down and take a look at your finances to see just how much money you are willing to invest in your new brand. Once you have your total budget, you can then decide where to allocate your funds and how to utilize your resources best.

2. How much do you want to spend on product development?

Once you have an overall budget, the next step is to split it up into a handful of different buckets, including product development, manufacturing, and marketing. With international production and larger orders, these buckets get more complex, but we will assume you are starting small and your clothing line will be USA-made.

As for what to budget for product development, you can use our in-house Product Development Program as a guide. For fabric sourcing, trim sourcing, pattern making, and cut and sew for your samples, clients typically spend between $1,500 to $2,000 per sample. We recommend that you devote at least $2,000 to each sample to create a quality product that will be successful in the marketplace.

3. Decide on your target price per unit for manufacturing

Once you have allocated funds to product development, calculate how much you can spend on manufacturing by focusing on the cost per unit to produce in bulk. To determine your target price per unit, start by learning the industry standard retail prices for similar products and work backward. Find out who your competitors are and what they are charging for their products. Their prices will allow you to hone in on a target retail price and get closer to how much you could reasonably make off of the sale of each unit to earn a profit. From there, you can determine the target price per unit.

4. Choose your method of distribution

How will you be selling your product? Will you be selling your clothing to stores or will you be selling on your e-commerce site? Many new businesses start out with a Shopify site to keep web development costs down, but some hire a web developer to design an e-commerce site for them. Decide how you want to sell your product and figure out how much you will need to spend to make distribution happen.

5. What is your marketing strategy?

For a startup clothing brand, we recommend allocating a significant amount of time and resources to marketing your product. Clothing moves when there’s buzz. If funds are tight, we recommend utilizing free social media marketing tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to get started.

If you have extra budget for advertising, Facebook and Instagram ads are a great way to jumpstart your company’s social media audience and promote your brand name. Alternatively, PR is also possible with little to no budget if you are willing to come up with angles yourself and do the legwork of finding and contacting writers; and influencer marketing on Instagram is a marketing channel that many budding designers have used with success.

We hope these steps get you started on your clothing line budget. Is there something you think we should add to the list? What unexpected costs derailed your budget? Leave us a comment below with any questions or comments. We love feedback.

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Your Kickstart to Entrepreneurship!

Amongst the many doctor and actor aspirations, lays an ambition many are not equipped to commence: creating their own business. As many start up’s disappoint before they’re fully able to thrive, a middle ground of uncertainty is present: how does a novice idea meet the demands of initial costs, provide a product worthy of consumer demands yet provide an opportunity to gain loyal customers willing to purchase at my inauguration? Enter Kickstarter, the crowd-funding platform that provides potential entrepreneurs with the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality.

There are many variables contributing to the success or deemed failure of companies; some externally or internally known while others are not. Whether or not the variables identified to the failure are presented, it’s best to reflect upon the factors contributing to success. I had the pleasure to speak with two very successful brands– one that has had recent achievement and the other still in the process of a Kickstarter triumph. Whether you’re planning the next great funded project or simply looking for inspiration from relatable businessmen, Ryan Beltran from Original Grain and Jake Joseph from Jake Joseph Underwear are idyllic.

Before investing in inventory and product development to begin any business venture, research and adequate testing are needed to determine if your product is in demand. With that said, Ryan Beltran believes “Kickstarter is a great avenue for testing products and gauging potential demand” as it develops a platform for advancing decisions to determine to continue or not. It’s also a great platform due to the audience – “an overflow of people who appreciate creativity and I wanted to reach and work with those people” reveals Jake Joseph.

As one of the most funded fashion projects to date, Original Grain fuses local wood inspiration from their Pacific Northwest hometown and modern eminence that results in a captivating timepiece. “Our primary goal when launching Original Grain (OG) was to develop a product unlike any other on the market. We wanted to create a watch that would ‘turn heads’, but was top notch in terms of its quality. That’s to be great at making our watches and provide a good experience for each and every customer we have.” With plans to solidify OG as household name and eventually expanding into a lifestyle brand, “the only way I can get there is

to focus on making a high quality product and continuously innovating our product offering.”

Original Grain

Jake Joseph elevates a traditional, hidden piece and “adds quality and workmanship to an often neglected garment”– underwear and proves that internal details and value of the first layer of adornment is equally vital. Insight to this piece was gained as this was in the process of development just as his project was launching. “We are constantly looking for ways to design products that are not just beautiful, but offer a solution too. Kickstarter is a terrific platform to introduce the The ZenSho Collective – the first underwear to never rise.” Ultimately, passion is vital Joseph believes, “be passionate about the product you want to introduce and illustrate that passion in your product and its benefits.” Genuinely understand your audience while developing an approach to providing them with a highly unique outcome, just as the exclusive underclothing of Jake Joseph has done.

jakejosephco

Passion coupled with an essential connection with your audience and quality product, all combine to make both of these company’s successful Kickstarter projects. “Kickstarter is an amazing community of people that want to help companies get off the ground…you just gotta go and do the dang thing.” Provide an experience for the consumer by revealing your story; when done effectively, the generated buzz will appeal to the need of your consumer now while also illustrating ideas for the future. “People love helping others achieve their goals, especially when they’re genuine” concludes Beltran. Therefore, the highly advantageous and mutually beneficial Kickstarter are highly recommended for the inner entrepreneur in all.

Original Grain: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/originalgrain/original-grain-all-natural-wood-and-stainless-stee

Jake Joseph: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/678444944/jake-joseph-redefining-mens-underwear?ref=discovery

By: Storm Tyler

***Update: Check out one of our brands NAMAKAN FUR: they just ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and we’re now in production – product to be completed January 2017

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IndieViews: Meet Johnny Quintero

Our IndieViews series highlights the talented and committed people who power Indie Source.

In our interview with Indie Source’s trim specialist Johnny Quintero, he shares his wisdom, experience, and excitement for what’s next.

What inspired you to work in fashion?

I would have to say the artistic part of fashion. I’ve always been attracted to fashion growing up. Seeing people express themselves through clothing always puts a smile on my face!

What advice would you give an aspiring fashion designer?

Do your research and think your design through to the end. Think about how your garments will be produced in production and design thoughtfully! I’ve seen so many times, designers “make it happen” or alter trim, sewing or cutting for samples and when the garment goes into production everyone scrambles to figure out how to reproduce the sample. You do not want to sell your garments one way and then in production find out you can’t do the same.

JQ2-for-webWhat has your career path looked like? 

Most of my experience has been in production. I started out as an assistant for development and production, then a production trim buyer, to domestic production manager and import coordinator. What brought me to Indie Source was the opportunity to be part of a development team again. I love working with a team to bring peoples designs to life.

What sets Indie Source apart from other places where you’ve worked?

The wonderful people here! Everyone has an entrepreneur attitude and we all work so well together. It’s a great team to be a part of.

What’s the best aspect of working at Indie Source?

The best aspect of Indie Source is meeting like minded people and always developing new and exciting garments! Every client is different and the work is always changing.

Any amazing Indie Source moments? 

Right now is the most memorable moment! We are growing the company and partnering up with so many great brands. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us!

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Watch Indie Source In Action On BET

Indie Source delivers for Damon Dash’s Poppington on BET’s Music Moguls.

Damon Dash’s vision for his Poppington apparel line is 100% independent and made in America using the highest quality materials and construction. On BET’s Music Moguls, Dash finds the key to his vision in Indie Source.

The BET crew captures Dash and partner Raquel M. Horn’s visit to Indie Source and meeting with Zack Hurley and Emily Meaker, where they review sketches and discuss samples. Dame’s reaction when he receives his samples from Indie Source? In a word – LOVE!

“To make something in America, at the quality and level that you like it … to me that’s real fashion,” says Dash. “With a group like Indie Source, I can make my samples, I can cut to order. I don’t have to hold a lot of inventory, because inventory’s what kills you in the fashion business.”

As a company that was created to help support independent designers, Indie Source is excited to be manufacturing Dame Dash’s vision for Poppington. We help designers like Dash develop their initial product. They bring us their sketches and we make modifications, source the fabric, and put together a collection for them. Once they’re happy with samples, we take them into production. And we manufacture it all here in Los Angeles. Indie Source is transforming the fashion industry in LA and making dreams into reality for indie designers.

Check us out in the Music Moguls episode below and find out more about what Indie Source has to offer independent fashion designers.

https://youtu.be/J2zSE6jDnrI?t=13m50s

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Ace Your Indie Source Intro Meeting

Ready to work with Indie Source? Your Intro Meeting is the first step. Here’s everything you need to know.

When you’re ready to transform your daydreams and sketches into a clothing line, Indie Source is the resource to make that happen. As a full service clothing manufacturer, Indie Source takes your ideas and makes them into something wearable by combining the right materials, fit, and construction. Our experienced, knowledgeable and passionate team will transform that overwhelming feeling of “where to begin” into the sense of delight that comes from manufacturing your line and bringing it to market.

The Intro Meeting

Your first step in working with Indie Source is the Intro Meeting. This is your chance to introduce your brand to us and share your vision for your business, as well as the specific products we’ll be creating with you. In your Intro Meeting meeting you will:

  • Meet your project manager, who will be your direct point of contact. They’re going to supervise, manage, and ensure the overall success of your project.
  • Meet our fabric specialist and trim specialist, who will be sourcing the perfect fabric and trims for your products.
  • Meet with Indie Source’s pattern maker, who will take fit notes (if you already have a prototype sample) .

The Indie Source team is experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated to making you and your brand a success and helping you along the way.

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To get the most powerful results from your Intro Meeting, you’ll need to be ready to discuss a broad range of topics around your label, as well as go into detail about each one.  Here’s a rundown of all the info you should have at the ready.

About Your Brand

  • Have a strong vision and goals, and know the values of your brand
  • What makes your brand unique or special?
  • Who is your competition?
  • What are your specific goals for your brand?
  • What is important to you in the development of your brand?
  • Are you price or quality focused?
  • Do you have a logo? Tag line? Mission statement?

Have A Brand Business Plan

  • How are you going to sell your product? Will you have a website? A storefront? Sell wholesale to retailers?
  • How are you going to market your brand? To who?
  • What are the price points for your products? How much do you want to pay to produce them versus how much do you want to sell them for?
  • How many units are you going to order? We have a minimum of 3 style and 250 pieces per style.
  • What is your budget for development? For production?

Have A Product Plan

  • Remember – we think of you as the designer! We are here to bring your ideas to life. Think through all the small details. We’re happy to make suggestions and help, but this is YOUR brand!
  • What are your sizes going to be? XS-XL? S-L?
  • What size would you like your samples to be made in? Think about who would come and try them on. If it is you, have the samples made in your size so you can make sure it’s the perfect fit.
  • What are the grading rules for your production? This means how much bigger do you want each size to be from the last? It is usually 2’’, but look at a line in a store or do some research and compare.
  • Will there be artwork on your products? This includes your logo.
  • What will your main label tags look like? Will they be printed or sewn in? They should have your name, logo, tagline, where it is made, and size. What will they look like? You send your tag artwork before your first meeting!
  • Are you going to have a hang tag or any other tagging or labeling on your products? Think about what they’ll look like in the store.
  • What colors do you want for your fabrics? Bring a color sample with you. We will find similar colors in in-stock fabrics. If you absolutely need a specific hue, we will need to dye it! Bring the exact color sample or find it using the PANTONE color finder. Keep in mind that colors might look different on a screen than in reality.

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Have A Timeline

  • When do you need your samples done? The development process usually takes around six weeks. However, the more custom and detailed your products are, the longer it will take (i.e. custom elastic and prints).
  • When do you want full production to be done? Production usually takes about 4-8 weeks depending on the complexity of your designs.
  • Set dates from start to finish! When do you want your clothes ready to be sold?

Have Patience

If we’re starting your line from scratch, it might take a round or two of sample making and fittings to get everything perfect. Indie Source wants to make sure you love your line and fits how you want. Be prepared to make more than one sample.

Now that you know what you’ll need to get started, are you ready to call Indie Source? Let’s manufacture your dream line!

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A Zero-Waste Fiber Is Brewing

Kombucha tea is the source of a new fiber aimed at creating sustainable fashion.

A new fiber made from tea is being developed as part of the fight to decrease waste and pollution in the fashion industry. An article published by Iowa State University details a new cellulosic fiber that’s a byproduct of Kombucha tea and is being grown in a lab by Young-A Lee and her research team. The cellulose fibers grow as a gel-like film that feeds off a mixture of vinegar and sugar. Once harvested and dried, the material is similar to leather, and can be made into clothing, handbags, and shoes.

Lee, an associate professor of apparel, merchandising, and design at Iowa State, received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop sustainable clothing and shoes from the new fiber. The global environmental impact of fashion manufacturing is far-reaching. Non-biodegradable clothing ends up in landfills, use of nonrenewable materials depletes natural resources, and chemicals used to manufacture and dye synthetic fabrics contaminate water and soil. One fact recently published by Forbes starkly illustrates the devastating environmental impact of manufacturing and, inevitably, disposing of synthetic fabrics:

Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.

Lee’s new cellulosic fabric is not only 100% biodegradable, it represents the possibility of a “cradle-to-cradle” design cycle of continuous reuse and regeneration. The material is grown in the lab using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), and when discarded, it goes back to the soil as a nutrient. It’s hard to imagine a greater contrast to the fashion industry’s current reliance on synthetics!

There are definitely issues to work out in developing this novel fiber before it will be ready for mass production and marketable to consumers. Lee’s team is working on shortening its growth cycle as the material currently takes 3-4 weeks to grow in the lab. Tests of clothing made of the fiber show that moisture makes it less durable, while cold makes it brittle. A survey of college students about a new cellulosic fiber vest revealed concerns about the color, texture, comfort, durability, and ease of care of the material. Lee is confident that these concerns can be addressed through the development process to ultimately produce a fiber that works for fashion companies and consumers while providing the universal benefit of contributing to sustainable fashion.

540 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

Smart Fabrics – New Functions In Fashion

Smart fabrics are bringing fashion design face-to-face with technology, and the possibilities are unlimited.

Smartwatches and activity trackers are on wrists everywhere. Virtual and augmented reality headsets give us a new modality of entertainment and learning. By 2020, wearable devices will represent a market worth of $40 billion with over 240 million annual unit shipments. A growing segment of wearables that integrate technology into fabrics in a visually seamless way is opening up a massive creative space for fashion designers in this highly technical market.

With their invisibly embedded technology, smart fabrics make donning wearables as second nature as throwing on a jacket before heading out the door. Invisible sensors and intelligent analytics provide what we’ve come to expect from wearable tech – communication, health data, exercise stats – and perform more advanced functions such as monitoring one’s emotional state, stress level, and ergonomic posture.

Embedded On The Go

Google’s Project Jacquard enables interactive technology to be woven into any textile. The tech giant has announced it’s partnering with Levi’s to create connected, interactive garments that combine the authentic feel and durability of denim with embedded technology that allows the wearer to interact with mobile devices in unprecedented ways. Scheduled for release in 2017, the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket is designed to enable bicycle commuters to wirelessly control mobile devices through gestures and touch.

Jacquard is a conductive fabric technology developed by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. Tiny components and conductive yarns attached to connectors and circuits allow the wearer to seamlessly interact with embedded technology. The fabric wirelessly transmits touch and gesture data to mobile devices, allowing users to control apps, manage calls, and use other smartphone features.

Jacquard yarns and fabrics can be produced using standard equipment already in use in mills around the world, and the fabric looks and feels just like the fabric consumers already wear every day. Fashion designers can use Jacquard in any garment without any knowledge of technology. This level of versatility means there is essentially no limit to who can use Jacquard in their designs, nor to the types of clothing that can be created.

From Physiology To Physicality

The possibilities of the intersection of wearable technology and fashion design don’t stop at wireless interaction with mobile devices. While most wearables detect physiology, BeBop’s smart fabrics sense physicality: presence, movement, weight, shape, force, location, and size. These measures are rendered as 3D maps of pressure, bend, location, rotation, angle, and torsion. The Berkeley, California-based company’s fabric contains embedded sensors, traces, and electronics using their proprietary Monolithic Fabric Sensor Technology. The only known viable fabric with these capabilities, it is also durable, lightweight, thin, washable, and more affordable than other sensor technologies.

BeBop’s main vertical is the automotive market, with applications in autonomous cars, safety, HMI (Human Machine Interfaces), and OCS (Occupant Classification System required for better airbag performance). BeBop’s other active markets are consumer health and IoT (Internet of things). With over a million sensors in daily use and $5 million in funding secured this month, BeBop’s smart fabric sensor technology has potential applications in almost every type of industry.

With a 67% increase in sales in the past year, wearables are one of the biggest emerging technology markets. As technologies become embedded into the very fabric of the clothing we wear, the potential for innovative and inspiring wearable tech apparel is unlimited. Powerful collaborations between fashion designers and product developers, component makers, electrical engineers, investors, medical device developers, textile manufacturers, and others will dramatically change the function of fashion in years to come.

540 301 Jesse Dombrowiak

IndieViews: Meet Jenn O’Mahony

In our IndieViews series, we get an in-depth look at the extraordinary people who make Indie Source work.

Inspired by Indie Source’s unique mission and culture, Development Project Manager Jenn O’Mahony creates outstanding results for clients’ fashion lines.

What is your role at Indie Source?

I’m a Project Manager within the Product Development division. Designers come to us with their ideas, and we help bring those to life through sourcing materials, making patterns, and hand sewing. Development is the beginning stage of creating your own line, and we help clients make their prototype and/or sales samples. I work with new designers and manage their development projects. This includes managing each step of the process: coordinating with them for our introduction meeting and planning, sourcing materials, pattern making, and sample making. I communicate with the clients on a constant basis to make sure we are creating exactly what they want and ensuring to keep us on schedule to have their samples done by their due dates. I also work with them to help meet their target price and get them fully prepared to move into production when they are ready. Additionally, I oversee the internal team that make all of this happen, including our fabric specialist, trim specialist, pattern maker, and sample makers.

How did you choose Indie Source?

Zack [Hurley] and Jesse [Dombrowiak] have a great vision for where they want the company to go, and I was on board from the moment they explained it to me in my interview. They’re two very down to earth guys but know exactly what they’re doing. Business savvy and genuine, these are the kind of people I like to work with – and I think our clients feel the same.

Client meeting with Arthur of FitScrubs. From left: Arthur, Jenn, Jesse.

Client meeting with Arthur of FitScrubs. From left: Arthur, Jenn, Jesse.

 

What sets Indie Source apart from other fashion companies you’ve been involved with?

What drew me to them at first, and why I’ve stayed – positive vibes. Everyone makes an effort to be happy. We all get stressed out from time to time, but everyone makes sure to keep positive about all of it. It’s very refreshing in this industry!

What inspired you to work in fashion?

I’ve always been interested in the fashion industry. I majored in Apparel Merchandising at Oklahoma State University and moved to LA after I graduated knowing that I wanted to get into the fashion industry here, but had no idea how. So my first job in LA was working as a Visual Merchandising Manager for a national women’s clothing store. Then I moved to work for a women’s contemporary dress line as their Pre-Production Assistant and later as Marketing and PR Coordinator.  I held each of those roles for two years respectively, but I’d say that the Pre-Production Assistant job is what most prepared me for what I do now.
It’s been a windy road with time spent in all areas of the industry, but I think that well-rounded experience gives me a unique perspective when working with the designers that come to us!

What’s the range of clients and fashion markets you work with?

Here at Indie we’ve worked on a little of everything! Clients range from very green young artists who just want to get a line started, to celebrities who want help starting their own brand. Garments we’ve worked on include: lingerie, baby clothes, women’s contemporary, men’s street wear, athletic, aprons, scrubs, and recently a fur collar. We’ve done almost anything you can think of if it has to do with apparel!

What advice would you give an aspiring fashion designer?

Do your research. Know what your target market is and find a niche to go for. You don’t want to get lost with everyone else making printed t-shirts. Do something unique! And have a budget. Take the time to plan out how much you want to spend on each piece of the puzzle and see what your total budget will need to be. This is a huge part of getting started in the industry and people will take you much more seriously if you know your target prices and have money saved to make your dream happen.

Launch party at The Reef. L to R: Jesse, Emily, Nara, Zack, Jenn, Lana.

Launch party at The Reef. L to R: Jesse, Emily, Nara, Zack, Jenn, Lana.

 

What’s the best aspect of working at Indie Source?

I’m always learning about something new because our clients are constantly coming up with new ideas and we have to figure out how to make them happen. The building we’re in is great as well because we are surrounded by creative people. It’s very inspiring.

What’s your favorite Indie Source story?

My favorite memory so far is when my first development fashion brand went into production. They were so excited to be producing the garments and super happy with the outcome. It was great to see all of our hard work together pay off and see their dream come true!

 

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