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Clothing Manufacturer: How to select a Clothing Manufacturer
560 315 Zack Hurley

How to Select a Clothing Manufacturer

Pairing up with a clothing manufacturer for the first time is a bit like online dating. First you offer up some information about yourself. Here’s an example of an excellent bio:

“Hi, I’m Natalie. I’m a former Olympic volleyball player. I’m creating a line for tall women like myself who get excluded by most athletic wear brands who don’t carry tall sizes. This is my first collection and I have a very limited fashion background. I do have a background in marketing and worked at a large agency for many years. I am planning to leverage many of my athlete friends’ voices to promote my brand, as well as the many media contacts I’ve accumulated over the years. My first collection will consist of 3 styles: tanks, leggings & track jackets. I’d like the tanks to retail at $45-50, the leggings at $92-98, and the track jackets at $119-127; and, based on my research, I’m aiming for manufacturing targets of $14-16, $22-27, and $29-32 respectively. I don’t want to produce more than 300 units per style for my first collection. That’s all I’m comfortable selling in the beginning.”

You may not be there yet, but this is the kind of information that’ll land you a solid first date. We’re talking:

  • A general description
  • The number of styles you’d like
  • Retail price points
  • Manufacturing price points
  • Target number of units per style

If you don’t have these, take a look at our other blog posts that’ll help you get started – and then come back here:

After you share everything about you, the next step is to make sure they know what your needs are. Sounds exactly like a date, right? Just maybe a bit more straight-forward…

“I’m looking for a manufacturer who has the time to show me the process and is okay with me being new! They won’t just take orders from me but will also give me advice on the best way to achieve price and quality targets, providing their professional opinion at each step. They are transparent with me about their operation and will give me insight into the products we are creating together. They will allow me to keep any patterns, samples, or other IP that I have paid to create. They are great communicators and do what they say they are going to do.”

Next, ask yourself, what do you need in a manufacturing partner?

Just as in the dating world where you’d want a guy who’s attractive, funny, and rich, but usually have to compromise, there are important characteristics to look for in a manufacturer. In the manufacturing world, it’s weighing between speed, price, and quality. While great manufacturers will have all three, it’s usually best to prioritize your needs and rank prospective manufacturers so your final decision will be easier.

Here are your options:

Speed: Made Here, Sold Here – Fast.

Imagine you have a big trade show, fashion event, or meeting with a buyer that is paramount to your brands success. You MUST have samples by then. Speed, then, is your choice. Or consider that you’ve just arrived from a trade show with a stack full of purchase orders (PO). Your buyers require delivery on a certain date. This means you’re under the gun and your delivery requirements must be communicated to your manufacturer upfront. Be clear about whether your manufacturing partner has the capacity and bandwidth to move at the speed you need or if they’re too busy dating other brands and can’t commit.

That said, it is wise, even without hard deadlines, to have a plan for when you’d like to launch your product. From there you can work with your manufacturer to create a timeline for production and development. Because you may not know all the processes involved (i.e. garment dye or stock fabrics?), your lead time will vary based on important decisions you make with your manufacturer. Keep communication open and chose someone who will give you time commitments for every deliverable, i.e. “Patterns will be completed by this Friday 9/15 @ 4pm.”

Quality – The American Craftsman

With thousands of fashion brands starting up each year and the many already established brands you’ll be competing against, we highly recommend that you place quality as a key priority. The best way to show a manufacturer your quality standards is to bring in samples that you absolutely love from other brands. You can show them the sewing work that you love and even which areas you think can be improved. Work with your manufacturer to understand how different sewing constructions impact your price points. Ask them to explain how they will ensure quality and what their quality control (QC) standards are. Their response will tell you a lot about how they will protect your product and you will know if they are a quality match for you.

PriceThe Commodity Play

Contrary to what the media will tell you, producing in Los Angeles is still an extremely viable move. Especially for brands that choose to sell direct to consumer, dependence on retailers who squeeze margins should be avoided. To determine your price points it’s best to start with your retail points and work backwards to understand target wholesale and manufacturing price points (See 5 steps to an apparel line budget).

Good manufacturers will ask you about your price points, and great designers will know their price points. Do not be frazzled. They ask this so that they can get you to where you need to be. By working clearly within a budget from the get-go, your manufacturer can make material, fit, and construction decisions that allow you to hit your target price points. Be clear, be honest, and, if you have a price point you need to hit no matter what, a good manufacturer will tell you one of three things. Be prepared:

  1. “NO. No possible way can you hit that price point – try Bangladesh and make sure you’re producing over 10,000 units.”
  2. “MAYBE. You could hit this price point but you’ll have to strip some things. Maybe use a less expensive fabric, do only one color screenprint and up your quantity to 500 from 300.”
  3. “YES. We can make that happen based on the information given.”

One final note on price via the old adage, you get what you pay for. I’ve been practically harassed by production teams demanding prices that can only be attained from overseas countries with very poor working conditions. These same companies complain about poor quality and bad communication while aggressively requiring prices that would put the manufacturer out of business. There is a large underground network of manufacturers exploiting their workers by paying them below minimum wage. If you go this route, you will likely not be able to establish a reputation of quality clothing and it will be much harder for you to build a sustainable, growing brand.

Now that you’ve given some detail about yourself, what you’re searching for, and what you value most in a partner, it’s time to play the field a bit and see what kinds of manufacturers are out there. What is the difference from one to the next, and how can we identify a “player” from someone looking for a long-term relationship?

Know the difference:

Sewing Contractor

This is literally just a sewing house. They do not source materials, make markers or cut fabric. They expect all materials delivered to them to be organized and they will only sew what is cut and ready to go. By working with them you’re committing to managing the other portions of production yourself.

Cut & Sew Manufacturer

This is slightly more extensive in support. These manufacturers do not source any materials and sometimes require that you provide completed markers. If you don’t know what markers are, continue below for a better fit.

Full-Package Manufacturer

Full package is the whole enchilada. These manufacturers are setup to support the entire process from procurement of materials to marking, grading, cutting, sewing, printing, finishing, folding, and packing. They are setup to support organizations that want to streamline their production and don’t have money to pay a full-time production manager running around the city overseeing all productions.

*PLAYERS – A WARNING

A traditional manufacturer, the player, is entirely focused on the end game. This can apply to any of the above, sewing contractors, cut & sew manufacturers, or full-package manufacturers, so be sure to sniff it out as soon as you can and stay away. Traditional manufacturers care only about big quantity orders and expect a purchase order (PO) prematurely – they want to take you home before buying you dinner. This is because they have experience working with larger brands who come to them with already developed products and a PO for substantial units. Here’s a conversation that I have witnessed dozens of times.

You: “Hi there! I have a collection of 6 styles that I’m looking to produce.”

Manufacturer: “Great, send me an order of 500 units and we’ll make you a sample.”

You: “Um, OK, I can’t place an order of 500 because I don’t have a sample yet. Actually, I have no tech pack, patterns, or materials either. If you can help me with these things, I will put in an order.”

Manufacturer: “You place an order and we will help you. No order, no deal.”

*CLICK*

This manufacturer clearly specializes in production only and does not have a service that supports new designers. Make sure that if you need a manufacturer that provides guidance, mentorship, and a complete service, you make it clear upfront.  

A Match Made in Heaven

After taking these steps, we’re sure that you and your manufacturer will be a match made in heaven. The key is to focus on the needs of your brand while taking into account your goals and your budget. Just like a relationship, you’ll want to end up with somebody honest and transparent who complements your strengths and weaknesses; and, just like in the real world, it’s best to go in with an understanding of what the industry looks like and all of the shady characters that you’ll want to avoid. Luckily, there are lots of great manufacturers out there. Isn’t that what your grandmother always told you?

540 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

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

540 301 Jesse Dombrowiak

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!

540 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

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

American Apparel Crowdsourcing New Products

Los Angeles-based fashion company launches crowdsourcing campaign to discover new product ideas.

As one of the largest apparel manufacturers in North America, American Apparel has made its mark on the fashion industry with its anti-sweatshop values, entirely made-in-USA manufacturing, and controversial ad campaigns. The company’s new “Made In” crowdsourcing campaign calls for vendor submissions of new American-made accessories to be sold in its retail stores and online.

American Apparel crowdsourcing“Made In” is seeking submissions of leather goods, canvas goods, footwear, jewelry, paper goods, fragrances, and small home furnishings. Products must be made in the USA, priced at $100 or less, and vendors must be able to ship 500 units in a 30-day period. Vendors may submit their products for consideration by uploading an up to 60-second video to American Apparel’s website. Submissions are due June 17.

American Apparel opened its downtown Los Angeles factory in 2000, a seven-story 800,000-square-foot facility where it produces more than 55,000 products. The company has seen major highs and lows, from being on Inc.’s 2005 list of the 500 fastest-growing U.S. companies, to ousting its controversial founder and CEO Dov Charney in 2014, and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. American Apparel is faced with turning around a company challenged by financial losses and leadership upheaval, and its “Made In” crowdsourcing campaign is an effort to revitalize its offerings while supporting small US accessory manufacturing projects.

While American Apparel must cut costs as part of its turnaround strategy — according to the Los Angeles Times, experts say the company may eventually move all of its manufacturing to another U.S. region where production costs are less — the company continues its commitment to American apparel manufacturing. Senior vice president of marketing Cynthia Erland says, “We want to continue to support manufacturing in the U.S. by giving small businesses the opportunity to thrive and succeed.”

 

540 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

Blue Jean Baby, LA Label

What difference does Indie Source make for its clients? We asked Blue Jean Baby’s Lola Rogers.

Lola Rogers gives us a real world look into how Indie Source delivers on its commitment to designers developing and producing their lines in Los Angeles. Lola has a commitment to Made In USA and a passion for the success of her eclectic and inspiring brand, Blue Jean Baby. In our interview, she reveals how partnering with Indie Source is making the difference in having it all come together beautifully.

Tell us about your line and what sets it apart.

Blue Jean Baby is the name of our line. My sister, Taylor, and I are from Texas, where the American classic – blue jeans – are a staple from farm girls to fashion girls alike! We love the easy going, care free vibe that a pair of blue jeans give to an outfit, but we have also always been drawn to luxurious fabrics that make up vintage lingerie, like silks and lace. Our line is a combination of these elements. We curate vintage as well as manufacture our own line.

A big part of our vintage line is our denim, predominately Levi’s 501’s, 505’s, and 517’s, but we also pick up Wrangler, Lee’s and any other unique looking denim we find when pulling vintage. The redline and selvedge Levi’s, we sell as is, in order to keep that authenticity, as some are from as early as the 1930’s. The later era denim, we rework with patches, embroidery, rosettes, etc. Our rework process is constantly evolving and it’s a lot of fun!

for-web-vintage1On the other side of things is our capsule collection, a vintage-modern twist on classic pieces like the slip dress, slip camisole, wide leg trousers, blazer with shoulder pads and a contrast hem, ruffle bloomer shorts, and a muscle tee. Our line is predominately silk, with a few cotton and rayons thrown in the mix. It is also all ivory, a simple neutral that we love because it can mix with anything … especially denim!

We love clothes that feel soft and easy, so that’s what we aim to create. Our Spring/Summer 16 line is mostly made from washed silks, linen, and cotton. We will continue to put an emphasis on quality fabric, as we believe that is what will set us apart from competing brands. High-quality fabrics are timeless.

We’re curating vintage, which we sell on Etsy currently, and once our line is being manufactured, we’re going to launch our vintage on our site, as well as our line. We’re hoping to open a storefront in Texas in the next year or so, and in the meantime we’re planning some pop-up shops in malls around Texas and possibly the LA area. We’re hoping to get on the festival scene or even get an airstream truck to sell our line on the road. We’ve done Flea Style in Houston and Dallas with our vintage collection and received a great response.

Who is your target customer?

Our customer is your laid back all-American girl who is inspired by culture, art, and music. She’s always down to try new things and meet new people because through these experiences she learns, finds new passions, and falls in love with what the world has to offer. On the other hand, she feels most at home in a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt.

Blue Jean Baby will be a fusion of exactly that. Our vintage Levi’s are a focal point of our brand because they are a base on which any style can be built, like the first coat on a canvas.

for-web-me&tay-copyWho or what inspired you to create your line? 

Growing up with a very fashionable and creative mama – although she would probably tell me not to say that – and we learned a lot from her sense of style! She was always re-decorating our house and we would tag along to vintage shops around Dallas finding amazing pieces of furniture, sometimes she would re-cover chairs, or re-work vintage furniture. As we got older, we developed our own taste in vintage clothing and loved the adventure of finding new shops, scavenging for the best pieces, etc. We knew from a young age that we would love to have our own store.

We are most inspired by the craftsmanship of vintage clothing; the delicacy, quality, and thought put in are impressive. As customers, that matters to us. So, we want to deliver that same standard with our clothes.

What is your fashion background and what type of work were you involved in before developing your line?

I went to college at Arizona State University, and Taylor went to Texas State University. After I graduated, I went on to FIDM because I wanted to learn everything about the fashion industry. My first job out of college was at Topson Downs of California, a large scale manufacturer in Culver City. I was doing accessory design and development as well as sourcing for a 20 person design team, in multiple divisions. Working at Topson really gave me the tools and confidence to begin the basics of design, which starts with conceptualizing the line, and sourcing the right fabrics and trims.

Taylor went on to work in retail at Aritzia in the Chicago area, and I went to work for Versace after I left my job at Topson. Once we’d gained substantial knowledge in multiple aspects of the industry, we felt prepared to take on this adventure of our own line, Blue Jean Baby.

for-web-boutique-neonWhat stage are you at in the development process?

As far as our capsule collection goes, we are in the last stages of the development process, which is so exciting! As far as designing and sampling and getting everything right, the process is not quick, most the time things need a second sampling, as it’s hard to get everything just right. Even the smallest details cannot be overlooked to bring together a precise and inspired collection that flows just right. We should have all our complete and perfected samples done by the end of this week. From there, we’re going to do our photo shoot, look book and then we’re going into production.

With our vintage line, the development process is never really complete, because each piece is one of a kind, it requires constant searching for the right pieces. We have reliable sources for most items at this point, but there are always more places to scour! The embroidery on denim trend is really hot right now, so we’ve had a great response to that, but we try to be innovative and fresh, so we’re never really done finding new ways to rework those pieces.

What challenges did you face before working with Indie Source? How has Indie Source made a difference for your success?

We just started conceptualizing our line and brand as a whole around October 2015. So once we knew we wanted to start with smaller runs, we began looking for a boutique full product manufacturer in the Los Angeles area, as Made in USA is a crucial aspect of our line. We visited with a few, and Indie Source just stood out.

Our first meeting with Emily was great, she was able to answer all the questions we had and calm any fears we expressed to her, all the while being extremely down to earth and easy going! It felt like a great fit.

It has been amazing to work with a team that is
really just there for us, isn’t too pushy, and has been willing to both collaborate and completely sit back and let us do our thing. Having done sourcing for one of my previous jobs, it was really important to me that I was able to collaborate in this aspect- and when I expressed this, they did not hesitate to meet this expectation. I was able to spend a morning sourcing alongside Nara, which allowed me to assure that she understood what exactly I was looking for. Some places won’t give you the time to work with them side by side like that.

So the biggest challenge in designing and developing a great line is always going to be time. Everyone is always going to wish there was more time in the day to get everything necessary done, especially when you’re working with different sources that all must work together to get one style done. Our project manager, Jennifer, has played a huge role in keeping us organized and on track. Having someone like her assures that little parts of the process, like care labels and hangtags, that can easily be overlooked in the craziness of creating and developing a line, are completed and ordered on time.

As far as production, we are just getting started, but I know that having someone work out our costing, is a huge, huge plus for us. Building our brand is the most important thing to us, but making money is obviously what we came here to do. So having someone we trust to crunch those numbers and assure that we are on track is a big factor for us.

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Is there anything you would have done differently?

The only thing we think we can improve on is just timing. When we decided to actually do this thing, we were in between seasons and new to the whole process, so we were designing with a certain season in mind and ended up having to adapt and change certain things to meet deadlines and ensure our product will hit the market at the ideal time to sell. When you are a creative mind, things can kind of take off in the direction of your art, but in the end, this is a money game, and staying on track is essential!

What has been the best surprise along your journey so far?

I think just the genuine response we’ve gotten from friends, family, and our vintage buyers thus far, has been the biggest victory! Having sorority sisters, and old friends reach out telling me they have told boutique owners about us, and not only that, but that they have gotten great responses, has been unbelievable!

 

for-web-neonWhat advice would you give to aspiring designers?

Follow your dreams! The marketplace may seem intimidating these days, everything is oversaturated and there is seemingly endless competition but staying true to YOU is what will set you apart from the crowd. You have an idea that you think is brilliant and you start Googling and you see it’s already been done. Fashion is always going to be a “knock off”. There’s no new silhouette you can come up with; everything’s been done. It’s all about putting your own flair on things. Confidence is key. My sister and I were very nervous at our fist show and the more you’re in the moment and making things happen and hearing people respond to things, it changes everything 100 percent. You have to just start doing it.

Not feeling the pressure to know it all is important. My dad was CEO of a company and he would say, “I don’t look to hire people who I’m smarter than; I want to hire people who are smarter than me”. He wanted to bring people onto his team who could teach him things and provide a new, fresh point of view.” That gave me a lot of insight. In my first meetings I felt nervous and shy about not knowing everything. But I realized the reason for working with other people is to learn and hear their ideas and get inspired from that. Knowing your strengths, and knowing when to sit back and listen to other people is key.

Everyone is afraid, no matter what people say. It’s scary to invest in yourself sometimes, but that’s the best thing you can do. Take the time to learn as much as you can before you go out on that limb, but there is no way you can know everything. Once you take that leap, you learn that you must be willing to adapt and learn as you go. Things will be thrown at you and you will be forced to make big decisions, but you will rise to the occasion, I promise!

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FIT Scrubs: Revolutionizing Medical Scrubs

Indie Source brings FIT Scrubs’ innovative design concepts to life – a real life success story.

 

Founded by 14-year emergency department paramedic Arthur Lucero, FIT Scrubs (a division of PurFit) intends to revolutionize medical scrubs by creating performance garments that work for medical professionals. Discouraged by the typical scrubs that saturate the medical field – uncomfortable, poorly-sewn garments made of impractical fabrics in gimmicky prints – Lucero had a vision of creating moisture wicking, antibacterial, antiodor, comfortable scrubs that truly perform for the professionals who wear them every day.

As a new dad, full-time undergrad student, and former paramedic, Lucero was completely new to the fashion business. His motivation and inspiration to create something new that would make a huge difference in his profession compelled him along a challenging product development and manufacturing journey that (luckily!) brought him to Indie Source. We are thrilled to partner with FIT Scrubs in the production of their line.

Below, we’ve excerpted Lucero’s blog post Concept to Creation, which details his inspiring journey from burned-out paramedic to fashion innovator.


In November of 2013, I resigned from my position as an ED Paramedic at Providence Tarzana Medical Center due primarily to burn out. Fourteen years of emergency medicine had taken its toll and I was developing some very unhealthy coping mechanisms, which I’ll dive into greater detail in another post down the road. I’d instruct CPR/ACLS/PALS, part time, here and there but that wasn’t enough. I can’t really describe it but my breakthrough moment was some internal voice, that I use to rarely listen too, tell me I can make scrubs better than anyone else can, and after further investigation of what was currently available in the medical uniform world, I felt there was a deficiency in the scrub market with regards to active wear scrubs . However, I knew nothing about starting a business, intellectual property, flat sketching, tech packs, concept boards, manufacturing, sample development, business scaling, distribution channels, social media and so on. In fact, the only subjects I really knew was the hospital culture (the consumer), and textiles.

Ever since the conception of FIT Scrubs concept, I had began researching the science and technology that went into a “performance” fabric. How was it constructed? What properties made it moisture wicking? What are the different types of blends and how are these blends made? Whats the process? What’s the difference between knit, woven, non-woven and laminates? Essentially, I wanted to know the anatomy and physiology behind the fabric. Ends up, textile science is just about as deep as medicine when it comes to the education and research that goes into textiles. And for a good reason, performance textiles, like our skin, do a whole lot more than just have a nice color and feel to them, they are working for you. The moisture wicking, fluid resistant element is similar to the dermal layer of our skin.

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My mission was to find all the pieces out there by knocking on as many state of the art textile companies and bio tech doors I could, in hopes that I could convince them to help me create a blend of fabric that was moisture wicking (hydrophilic), antibacterial, anti odor, anti wrinkle, fluid resistant (hydrophobic), breathable, comfortable, stretchy and felt protective, just like our skin. Not as easy I thought it was going to be, however.

I realized pretty quickly, I had no clue as to how to even go about approaching an advanced textile company, let alone a bio materials corporation. But if this was going to be my trump card, the core of my apparel, I knew I was going to have earn it. Because if it was easy, it would have been done already. I knew my biggest challenge was just getting my foot in these places door. There are fabric reps who do this for a living btw, and its not to uncommon for these reps to make six figures a year for the work they do considering fabric sourcing is an instrumental component to every successful apparel company, so little ol’ me, had his work cut out. Finding the mills was one thing, getting them to engage with a young, inexperienced, start up business owner with a great concept was another. So I took to LinkedIn, updated my profile, got it streamlined and began searching the companies through there. I’d get some hits by directly InMailing the key players but the bottom line was that I had no skin in this apparel game. I had nothing to offer other than risk and liability. I’d send multiple emails to the company’s “inquiry” web page but nothing. It wasn’t until I came across a site called www.materialconnexion.com that really helped catapult my progress. It had a pricey subscription fee to utilize its services but it was insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The greatest feature was that it gave me direct contact to the folks responsible for creating the blends I needed, in addition to providing a vast network of technical mills that were willing to work with small start ups such as mine.

To make a long story short, I found what I needed, that find was this respective start up called PurThread Technologies based in the textile hub of Charlotte, North Carolina. I went through the antimicrobial gambit of companies all providing an effective product but this company had the winner. Similar to the silver antimicrobial thread used in yoga/active wear brands like Lululemon uses for its long lasting odor control (their slogan is “Get the funk out”), PurThread had developed a proprietary process of utilizing the EPA approved silver from their partner, Kodak, and embedded it within their thread to produce a long lasting, integrated antibacterial fabric, which has been clinically proven to kill MRSA, Staph and other Hospital Associated Infections (HAI) upon textile contact within 2-4 hours with a 99% efficacy, backed by a surplus of clinical trials.

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To my surprise, they were willing to work with me and we partnered up since we both share a common goal in providing a functional and protective medical uniform for both the military and civilian sectors. Two fields I also share a common ground with being a USAF Veteran and health care professional. However, I still needed to find a fabric mill that was able to weave their silver embedded thread with a performance blend that had all the other bells and whistles as I mentioned in the third paragraph. It was around this time I hired a full package manufacturer called Indie Source here in my hometown of Los Angeles and with our collective efforts, we’ve partnered with a state of the art fabric mill that had made the perfect blend of fabric we had been searching for. Through this joint effort, we are able to implement an all inclusive approach to the product development process by having everything done locally and

  • Obtain feedback from working health care professionals with a functional driven perspective on uniform performance
  • Collaborate with textile specialists at our fabric mill, as we convey our wants and needs in the fabric we feel will be the most effective to meet the demands of our job duties
  • Describe and demonstrate our work tasks to designers who have a background in outdoor and active wear for the design process

This forward thinking, solution driven approach is the mindset we are taking in developing, what we feel is the next generation of medical scrubs
. By actively collaborating with all the mechanisms that are involved in creating innovation in regards to bio technology, performance, consumer feedback, science, design and implementation, it’s happening.

To read the full version of Lucero’s post, please visit the FIT Scrubs Blog.

 

 

 

Jesse Dombrowiak

Production minimums….wait…what?

Production minimums are the smallest number of units that a manufacturer can (or is willing) to go into production on. Most manufacturers set their minimums by body style and color way. For example, at Indie Source our production minimums for most custom work is 250 units per style, per color. This means that a crop top in maroon jersey fabric will require 250 units or a mens french terry sweatshirt in blue will require 250 units. These units can then be graded and divided into any number of sizes that the client requires.

Why do we do this?

While there are many things that go into this calculation such as fabric minimums, sewing minimums, etc. the main reason manufacturers need to set a production bar is to protect themselves. There is an inherent setup cost for a manufacturer whether they are running 100 units or 10,000 units. That cost is absorbed (in most cases) by the manufacturer and divided by the total number of units.

Using this same example, lets say the setup cost is $500. This could come from the cost of sourcing fabrics, sourcing trims, gathering artwork, making patterns/samples, and collaboration with the brand to understand exactly what they need.

If we divide $500/100 units, then there is a $5 per unit cost for each item to be made before any profit is calculated (manufacturers actually need to make a profit to stay in business). This does not even take into account the COGS (cost of goods sold) like fabric, trims, and printing materials let alone costs for labor and quality control.

Alternatively if the order is 10,000 units we’ll divide $500/10,000 = $.05 This is much more manageable for a manufacturer to absorb.

The trick here is finding a balance. Everyday there are thousands of new designers eager to go to market. Our goal is to afford them the least amount of risk as possible while still maintaining a business model that keeps our doors open. The more designers and new brands can understand the challenges of manufacturers the easier collaboration between us will become. We love to see new brands thrive and want to support them whether they come to Indie Source or go elsewhere. Good luck!!

Jesse Dombrowiak

Fashion Incubator & Production Dev. Hub Opens in DTLA

Apparel manufacturer and fashion consultancy Indie Source is teaming up with Manufacture New York to establish a new Made In USA product development & fashion incubator hub at Maker City LA @ The Reef in Downtown Los Angeles. The official opening is November 13th, 2015

This groundbreaking partnership between The Reef, Indie Source and Manufacture NY will establish vertically integrated support for LA fashion brands. Indie Source will provide businesses with streamlined product development including fabric sourcing, pattern making, cutting, sewing, and finishing, while Manufacture New York will provide a fashion + tech design incubator, complete with a shared designer studio, industrial equipment, mentorship, classes and events.

All brands will have access to state of the art photography studios, media lab, sales showroom & a world class event venue at The Reef.

A launch party for industry influencers, entrepreneurs, local designers and other creatives interested in touring the new facility will be held on Friday, November 13th from 6pm-9pm.

Jesse Dombrowiak

From Design To Production: Starting a Fashion Line

The public relations team at Indie Source asked me to explain in basic terms what Indie Source does. There is a good understanding in the world about what other industries do to make their finished product but, little understanding as to all of the work that goes into fashion from design to production.

Starting a fashion line begins with a vision to build a fashion house and brand which is much like building a house, your dream house. The difference between building a house and a fashion house is not much different but, the finished product and know how that are used to build the fashion house are longer term and require more information, education and team building than building a home. An architect alone cannot build a house. He can draw up the vision, lay out the plans but, then he needs a team to actually build the house.

A fashion designer is an architect and engineer of fabric, drawings and history. A fashion designer combines their knowledge of history with their inspiration for a collection designed on mood boards with fabric selections and then designs a full collection. The collection is made of croquis sketches which show the designs and illustrations that are loose interpretations of the design. From there, a designer will need to draw technical flats with specific measurements to create a pattern block and a pattern to go into production. Often, the process is lengthy and not all designers know what a tech pack is or why it is needed. It is also important to understand through the design process the production calendars and timelines so product is delivered on time and in season for buyers to buy at market and editors to publish before market for customers to buy. This is where Indie Source comes in.

As a full service development and production manufacturer, Indie Source provides all the details that designers need to see their designs and dreams come to life. Production is a complex process that like building a house, requires a good team of people. A designer (architect), construction manager (project manager) who manages budgets and timelines, building manager (textiles and fabric production) who sources materials and insures their delivery for construction, and of course, construction (pattern makers and graders, cutters and sewers). Indie Source is a designer’s dream team bringing designers drawings to life and allowing the designer to live the independent life they love. For more information on our services or a price quote on production and public relations please e-mail: info@indiesource.com

Get social with us and follow our social media.

Instagram: @indie_source

Twitter: @indie_source

Facebook:www.facebook.com/IndieSourceApparel

Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is architecture,” and she was right. It is the architecture of building a long lasting vision from brand to consumer. With the production and public relations built with Indie Source one collection and each season at a time with high American made quality control standards, your designs and brand will be built on a strong foundation enabling it to last through time with the changes in fashion while creating a style and lasting vision of your own.

The production team looks forward to hearing from you and answering your questions to get your vision started from start to finish, season after season. We deliver independence to independents, one design into production at a time.

@oliviapalermo #fashion #style #blogger #designer

@oliviapalermo #fashion #style #blogger #designer

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