Establishing a custom clothing line can be one of life’s most exciting, exhausting, and yet rewarding endeavors. But while you may have everything figured out from original ideas to exacting measurements, there are some common pitfalls that entrepreneurs encounter when it comes to putting their brand into production. When choosing a clothing manufacturer to produce your clothing line, it is essential to be aware of a few common issues.
Obstacle #1: Finding the right level of support for your experience in the fashion industry
Most people expect fashion designers to be lofty visionaries who can execute their ideas from concept to final product in all aspects of garment production. But as much as we WISH we could have a thousand of ourselves executing down to the last detail, it simply doesn’t translate to when it comes to scaling custom clothing manufacturing for a brand’s community—hence the need for working closely with a supportive clothing manufacturer.
Every entrepreneur will have a different idea of what their perfect manufacturer can do, and it’s typically tied to their own level of experience and industry expertise. Some brands have been around the block and primarily value quality and technical expertise, the ability to take factory-reach tech packs and crank out high quality garments to spec with minimal input. Others are just getting their start and will benefit from more collaboration on the technical aspects of their clothing line. But overall, everyone benefits from clear communication and collaboration on both sides.
The ignition for a successful clothing business is finding a perfect fit with your manufacturer. So be ready to ask and answer honestly with what best supports your experience.
Obstacle #2: Keeping your supply chain lean and adaptable
Young fashion brands may be tempted to develop far flung supply chains in pursuit of the best possible costs on materials or production. While it can be exciting to dream of having production partners around the world, the reality is often less glamorous when you’re taking calls at all hours trying to reconcile a missing fabric delivery in one time zone with customs delays in another and looming deadlines in your own.
In this case, startup brands often encounter a considerable amount of risk by spreading themselves too thin before they have the infrastructure in place to do business on a global scale. Even big brands can fall prey to this, as we learned when the pandemic turned global supply chains on their head and destabilized some of the biggest names in the industry.
Ultimately, due to the unpredictable nature of global economies and logistics, startup fashion lines will benefit most by seeking established manufacturers who can help them plug into pre-existing, responsive, and reliable supply chains rather than sourcing manufacturing overseas.
Obstacle # 3: Being prepared for the reality of clothing manufacturing
Poor planning and lack of communication can lead to missed opportunities for both the fashion entrepreneur and the manufacturer. The most common problem is that manufacturers and designers fail to communicate the production details of a design.
Those seeking to obtain samples and estimate production costs, for instance, may expect to rely on sketches devoid of precise details. This leaves room for a lot of assumptions and inaccurate cost projections, resulting in an unpleasant experience for both parties. It is important to choose a manufacturer with whom you can speak the same language from the onset.
There are no predetermined formulas for choosing the right clothing manufacturer. Each clothing line has distinct needs that require a tailored solution. That’s what we provide at every level with Indie Source, where our extensive industry knowledge and connections can help you get from A to Z with starting your own custom clothing line. Want to see what we bring to the table? Head over to our Product Development page to schedule a Kickoff Meeting!