Manufactering Resources

Development Costs
1024 683 Zack Hurley

A Deeper Dive into Development Costs: Part 2 of the Budget & Pricing Mini-Course

This is part 2 of a 4 part mini-course on budgeting and pricing for designers working on their first clothing line. Sign up here to be emailed the remaining 2 parts and we’ll also give you access to the costing template we use for all of our customers! Read part 1 here.

Let’s dive into the development costs that will go into your development and production budget.  It is crucial from the get go to learn how to manage cost of your garment. These 7 important factors will help you understand sample and production costs as well as your eventual pricing.

Development Costs 1: Fabrication

60% of your garment cost comes from the fabric chosen. When designing and planning pieces, the most important element is the fabric price point per yard. As an example, if it takes 2 yards per shirt and fabric is $8/yard, the cost for fabrics is $16 per shirt.

The trims are another important factor. Being aware of the price added by each buckle, bow, and binding placed on the garment will help you control costs from the start. For example, if you’re making a button-down shirt, you will need:

  • Fabrics
  • Buttons
  • Interfacing

Each of these items will have a specific price per unit that will need to be added to the overall cost of each garment.

Development Costs 2: Additional product elements

Fabric, cut, and sew are obvious items to include but don’t forget about things like care or size labels, hang tags, and poly bags. Also, think about the interior of your product. Is there interfacing or a stabilizer needed to hold shapes or a button placket? Make sure to  include every tiny item into your costing!

Development Costs 3: Construction

Taking into account the finishes, specialty stitches, and amount of seams within a style will help to control your price point.There will be times that the more seams you add to a piece the price will increase (in labor cost), and sometimes the lack of a seam will cause a higher price (in fabric consumption). Adding in French seams, baby merrow stitches, 5 needle flat locks, all take specialty machines. These types of construction, also dictate where your line is produced.

When it comes to construction, it’s likely you’ll need to work with a professional pattern maker with experience in creating production ready garments. The pattern maker should have access to work directly with the sample team to ensure that pattern specifications will be executed correctly. For example, you could budget $15/hour for easy cost calculation and start by allocating 40 hours to create the first pattern and first fit sample. If you have ten styles, multiply the cost of of the pattern and sample by 10.

Development Costs 4: Location

Fully lined garments with inner support construction, and hand work will most certainly be produced in a different factory location than a 4-way stretch legging with 5-needle flatlock seaming. Identifying a factory that specializes in shirt making, for example, before you hire a technical designer or pattern maker is good business practice. It is not uncommon for sewing factories to not have every kind of machines and skilled labor. The more efficiently the factory can make a shirt, the better pricing they can offer your brand in production.

Alternately, you can partner with a full-service production and manufacturing house to help you source pattern makers and manufacturers. The price may not be higher than doing the legwork yourself since the business will have in-house employees and established relationships with specialty manufacturers. They may be able to offer some of the benefits of scale that you as new designer lack.

Development Costs 5: Quantity

The amount of items that you are purchasing from a contractor will always affect the price of that garment. The higher the quantity, the less the price. Learning how to produce apparel with your intended aesthetic, fit, finishes, and market level, while simultaneously staying within your price point, are invaluable to a designer’s success.

Development Costs 6: Packaging

Are you selling directly to the consumer, through resale channels, or both? If you’re selling direct, you’ll need to account for packaging costs. Whether it be a hanger or polybag for an apparel item, custom boxes, tissue paper, ribbon, brand information inserts, or luxury mailing containers, there is a cost. There will be fewer packaging costs if you’re going through resale channels, but of course the middle retailer will also take a cut of your profit margin.

Development Costs 7: Shipping

This industry is global, so your fabrics and trims could be coming from Japan, Italy, India, or any number of places. Without knowing the exact price of shipping, you can always take the total cost of your materials and multiply it by 10%. This estimate will work initially. When you get your final invoices from the vendors you can update the price per yard or piece with the actual amount, including shipping.

Once you understand these 7 items, you’ll be able to start putting together a cost for your sample – and look into cost-saving alternatives. Next comes the equation for pricing your garment. Sign up here to be emailed the next two blog posts in this budget & pricing mini course. Plus, we’ll give you access to the costing template we use for all of our customers! Read part 1 here.

first clothing line
560 315 Jesse Dombrowiak

Your First Clothing Line: Part 1 of the Budget & Pricing Mini-Course

You have an idea for your first clothing line. You know what you want your collection to look like, and you are ready to make the dream happen. Next comes the uncomfortable step that most creatives dread: how do you budget and price your first clothing line?

Fashion lines are typically developed on a 6-month cycle. It takes six months from concept to floor. For new designers who are usually developing fewer pieces on a smaller scale, that timeline can drop down to 6 weeks.

Even so, A LOT needs to happen between the design and delivery of the question. The truth of the fashion business is that you will incur many costs before you see any revenue, so budgets are king – and how you price your garments queen. This is part 1 of a 4 part mini-course on budgeting and pricing for designers working on their first clothing line. Sign up here to be emailed the remaining 3 parts and we’ll also give you access to the costing template we use for all of our customers!

What can you afford for your first clothing line?

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

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. Fashion designers generally look to three different possible sources of funding for their first clothing line.

Equity

An equity investment is an investment that others make into your business in exchange for part ownership. Equity investors will expect some level of decision-making authority after they buy in.  While angel investors, like friends and family, may be easier to land, the best equity investors will also give you expertise and contacts and serve as high-level advisors to your growing business.

Debt

Debt financing, otherwise known as a loan, means you need to pay back any money you borrowed plus interest according to the fee schedule you arranged with the bank or institution. If you decide to take on debt, it means you will have upfront money without giving up any control of the business, but you will have an additional monthly expense in the form of interest payments.

Other Income

Of course, there are many other options for financing too. You might start your fashion line as a side hustle and be able to finance it through another line of work, whether it is a full-time job or part-time consulting or freelancing gigs. As well, there are many awards, competitions, and grants available to new designers. The benefit of this financing is that you do not have to give away control. The drawback, however, is that these commitments can sap your time and energy and slow down development of your business.

Whatever you choose, it is important to get comfortable with an element of fundraising from the beginning. The more successful you are, the more your funding needs will grow. You will take bigger orders and need more cash upfront to front collections before buyers or customers pay you. If you want to expand aggressively, and who does not, money earned from previous seasons will not be enough to fund the next round. Even if you can finance your first collection from your own bank account now, this may not be true in the future. Every new collection will pose a challenge, and you will need some financing to bridge the gap.

The three major expenses of your first clothing line

Once you have an overall budget, the next step is to understand how to allocate your funds. The first step is to split the budget into three main buckets, product development, production, and marketing. With international production and larger orders, these buckets get more complex, but we will assume you are starting small and your first clothing line will be USA-made.

Product Development

For product development, you can use our in-house process 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.

Product development costs depend on a few factors, including how many products you are producing, each product’s complexity, and the quality of the materials you are using. At the end of the development process, you will understand exactly how much your cost per unit – and how much you plan to price your items – as you move into the next big stage: production.

Production

Development has a cost separate from production. Development means getting your samples perfect; production means manufacturing them at scale. Unfortunately, there are no simple guidelines for manufacturing costs. Manufacturers are famous for charing retailers different costs even for the same products. Ultimately, the price depends on volume, leverage, and even relationships. The general rule is that volume is king. The more you buy, the cheaper the cost per unit.

That said, you shouldn’t produce more just because you get a lower price per unit. For designers working on their first clothing line, lower volumes are important. You need them to test demand, experiment with marketing, and create buzz. You will end up paying more, but you also don’t risk having unsold inventory. That, more than lower margins, is the largest challenge you will face – and it won’t go away as your brand grows.

As in most any industry, relationships in fashion are crucial to pricing. Building relationships with buyers, retailors, and manufacturers will help you negotiate better prices. Of course, it takes time to build relationships, but a great network is a valuable piece of the pizzle. Ultimately, keeping down costs is a constant balancing of high and low volume prices while keeping in mind the margins you need to keep the business healthy.

Marketing

Marketing is another topic that should be addressed from the beginning, no matter how uncomfortable. Luckily, marketing a first clothing line these days does not have to be expensive. Websites through Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, or WordPress are fairly inexpensive to set up and maintain. As well, it is possible to test ads on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest without a large outlay of cash.

If you have already identified influencers that cater to your audience, reach out to them and see what they charge. We also recommend signing on a free or inexpensive email marketing service, like Mailchimp, so you can start list building. No matter what, it is important to allocate some amount of money to marketing, so you can start building an audience and testing the market.

You made it! This is just part 1 of a 4 part mini-course on budgeting and pricing for designers working on their first clothing line. Sign up here to be emailed the remaining 3 parts and we’ll also give you access to the costing template we use for all of our customers!

Fashion Production 101
1024 682 Zack Hurley

Get the 101 on Fashion Production Basics

Tо undеrѕtаnd whаt fаѕhiоn рrоduсtiоn is, we first have to look at what the term “fashion” really means. Fаѕhiоn rеfеrѕ tо different ѕtуlеѕ or practices in сlоthing, mаkеuр, ассеѕѕоriеѕ, and еvеn furniturе. In a vеrу strict ѕеnѕе, the term оnlу rеfеrѕ tо trеndѕ in wеаrѕ or apparels; and, since we are a clothing manufacturer, we are going to limit ourselves here to the fashion production of сlоthing.

When it comes to clothing, fаѕhiоn production has come a vеrу lоng wау. The earliest clothes were likely furs and vegetation adapted into protection from the elements. Once strictly practical, clothing has since then also become an important reflection of culture, tradition, and technology. As early as the late stone age (50,000 years ago!), people invented textile production, spinning fibers into yarn and netting, looping, knitting, or weaving it to make fabric. That thread (pun intended) continues, and people clothe themselves today based on a range of textile technologies.

Thеrе wаѕ a vast improvement in fashion production during the industrial revolution, when textile development was mechanized with machines powered by waterwheels and steam engines. Production, once local and scattered across villages, moved to factory assembly lines, and sewing machines continued to streamline production. Alongside an explosion in fashion production, the 19th century also witnessed the beginning of several fashion manufacturers and brands that still exist today. That said, much of clothing production was and is still made individually by hand – but that may soon change.  

In соntеmроrаrу times, thе рrоduсtiоn оf fashion has gone global at an ever-increasing pace. Dramatic changes in transportation alongside open trade and the rise of fashion empires have made it possible to manufacture, ship, and sell clothing around the world at an incredible speed. Technological innovation continues to impact the industry, and fashion designers now have a range of synthetic fibers, manufacturing shortcuts, and ecommerce tools to add to their toolbox. The industry is bigger than ever, but it has never been easier for budding fashion designers to enter the trade with their own ready-made garments, men’s, women’s, and kid’s wears.

Fashion, not surprisingly, has become fashionable. Shows like “Project Runway” have popularized the profession and countless kids dream of becoming fashion designers. The education industry has kept pace and courses in fashion designer are now common at colleges and universities around the world. However, much like many other degrees that teach theory and critical thinking while avoiding the nitty-gritty, many new graduates come away from their degrees knowing the history of fashion like the back of their hand, but not, for example, the basics of fashion production. Let’s break it down.

Tуреѕ оf Fаѕhiоn Production

There are many reasons people choose to wear what they wear and great fashion designers know exactly for whom they are designing clothes and what needs they are meeting. In addition to the age-old need for protection, pеорlе use fаѕhiоn and clothing tо hеlр idеntifу with a certain social grоuр, ѕhоw status, and as a mеаnѕ of ѕеlf-еxрrеѕѕiоn. Mаnу реорlе rely on thеir сhоѕеn ѕtуlе оf сlоthing to share thеir реrѕоnаlitiеѕ. Fаѕhiоn varies with rеgаrdѕ to the ѕосio-economic group, occupation, status, age, region, соuntrу, religion, сulturе, and a host of other factors. Fashionable сlоthing is certain tо fall into a vаriеtу оf сlаѕѕifiсаtiоnѕ аnd categories–and this is where new fashion designers can start–inсluding:

High Fаѕhiоn

High fаѕhiоn (also rеfеrrеd tо аѕ Haute Cоuturе) is the most еxсluѕivе of clothing lines and revolves around custom-made оutfitѕ made-to-order around body type, taste, color, and specific measurements. Because of the high cost, high fashion is typically created bу fаѕhiоn designers аnd design houses that have established brands and clientele. Many оf thе materials are саrеfullу sourced to hеlр рrоvidе a more uniԛuе аnd diѕtinсtivе finiѕh. High fаѕhiоn сlоthing iѕ of соurѕе еxреnѕivе аnd this limitѕ its аvаilаbilitу in the fаѕhiоn wоrld. New fashion designers, as much as they might like, shouldn’t start with high fashion.

Rеаdу-tо-Wеаr

Thе rеаdу-tо-wеаr clothing line (аlѕо саll рrêt-а-роrtеr аnd off-the-rack) iѕ mоrе ѕtаndаrdizеd сlоthing that is pre-made аnd аvаilаblе in a vаriеtу of pre-determined ѕizеѕ. Ready-to-wear clothing designers use standard patterns, less expensive fabrics, large factory equipment, and faster construction techniques to keep costs low. Rеаdу-tо-wеаr сlоthing will not givе thе precise fit оffеrеd bу thе сuѕtоm-mаkе rаngе. Instead, it is sold in standard ѕizеѕ tо fit thе mаjоritу оf the shopping public. Petite-size and plus-size оutfitѕ аrе also available in this range, but there is сеrtаin to be lеѕѕ choice оffеrеd соmраrеd to thе ѕtаndаrd ѕizеѕ.

A selection of high-еnd off-thе-rack fаѕhiоn оutfitѕ аrе оffеrеd by ѕоmе of thе finеr fаѕhiоn hоuѕеѕ tо mаkе thе wеll-knоwn fаѕhiоn brаndѕ mоrе ассеѕѕiblе tо thе widе mаrkеtрlасе. Think Giorgio Armani’s Armani Exchange or Calvin Klein’s Jeans. This setup allows top designers to capture a larger portion of the market without sacrificing their equity, unless, as sometimes happens, quality noticeably suffers. Most new fashion designers will start with ready-to-wear because they do not have the resources to produce either couture, which requires existing high-end customers, or mass-market fashion, which requires high sales.

Mаѕѕ-Mаrkеt Fashion

Mаѕѕ-mаrkеt is a сlоthing line that iѕ сhеарlу аnd ԛuiсklу рrоduсеd in high vоlumе at thе mоrе ѕtаndаrd ѕizеѕ uѕing large mаnufасturing fасilitiеѕ. Mаѕѕ-mаrkеt clothing is оftеn known bу thе tеrm diѕроѕаblе fаѕhiоn since it iѕ usually seasonal in nаturе аnd manufactured in thе cheapest mаtеriаlѕ аvаilаblе. Mass-market fashion is thе mоѕt rеаdilу аvаilаblе fаѕhiоn сhоiсе аnd оffеrеd аt the mоѕt аffоrdаblе еnd of thе market. Think H&M, Uniqlo, and Forever 21. While these brands get access to the largest segment of the market, they typically suffer from quality–and reputation–issues. Budding fashion designers typically don’t have the cash or relationships needed to do such large manufacturing runs – the risk would simply be too high.

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 clothing 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 clothing manufacturer. In the manufacturing world, it’s weighing between speed, price, and quality. While great clothing manufacturers will have all three, it’s usually best to prioritize your needs and rank prospective clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing manufacturer out of business. There is a large underground network of clothing 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 clothing 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 Clothing Manufacturer

This is slightly more extensive in support. These clothing 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 Clothing Manufacturer

Full package is the whole enchilada. These clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing manufacturers, so be sure to sniff it out as soon as you can and stay away. Traditional clothing 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.”

Clothing 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.”

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

*CLICK*

This clothing manufacturer clearly specializes in production only and does not have a service that supports new designers. Make sure that if you need a clothing 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 clothing 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 clothing manufacturers out there. Isn’t that what your grandmother always told you?

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 how to create a clothing line budget. 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 how to create a clothing line 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.

534 300 Jesse Dombrowiak

Los Angeles Clothing Manufacturer Indie Source is 100% USA-Made

As American Apparel layoffs begin, Los Angeles clothing manufacturer Indie Source is poised to hire.

Today, American Apparel has started the mass layoffs that will leave thousands of Los Angeles clothing manufacturer workers wondering where to turn for work. I know this because dozens of them showed up at our factory this morning looking for employment.

What can we do?

We need U.S. fashion brands to make commitments to moving production here to Los Angeles clothing manufacturers. These workers are extremely talented, loyal and ready to take on a new challenge. While we can support some of the workers, there has been over 2,000 jobs lost all in one day. This requires a massive shift in the way we do business.

Today less than 3% of US fashion brands produce in the United States. If we could bump that percentage up, only slightly, all jobs could be saved. 

We’re asking U.S. fashion brands producing abroad to give Los Angeles clothing manufacturers a shot. But not just for that fuzzy feeling that will lead to more American jobs, but because we believe it’s in many U.S brands’ best interest to produce domestically.

We will perform a cost-benefit analysis using each brands’ current cost structures to show that it makes sense to produce in the U.S. financially. We’ll review the costs associated with overseas and compare them to domestic production in our factory or other Los Angeles clothing manufacturers.  Yes, the cost of direct labor is higher but when you consider taxes, shipping costs, holding costs and the massive cost of inventory that is discounted and thrown away, the total costs of production in China vs. Los Angeles are marginal. Tack on the tremendously skilled workforce and available fabric and trim sitting idle in Los Angeles and you’ve got a sound business case for moving some production stateside.

Don’t believe us? We’ll prove it. We’re asking US fashion brands to send us their overseas made garments and we’ll show them how to produce here while saving a ton of American jobs in the process. 

Once it is clear that Los Angeles clothing manufacturing is viable for each brand, we will create a plan for implementation and will allow each brand to see data on the workers’ they are impacting.

Contact Us Now to see if your brand can make it happen in Los Angeles.

Check out our sweatshop free, ethically responsible downtown LA space below:

FullSizeRender (1)  fabric Indiepg

 

Fabric Indie Entrance Indie Source Logo OFFICE Usable

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Meet Indie Source Client Coordinator Emily Meaker

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

Get to know Emily Meaker, your GO-TO point person to help you organize, plan, and (finally!) get going on building your dream fashion collection.

What is your role at Indie Source?

I am a Client Coordinator at Indie Source. I work with designers who are interested in our sample development or apparel production services and help them prepare for collaboration with us.  Before we dive into things like materials sourcing, pattern making and sample making, our clients need to have the creative components figured out. They need to know what styles they wish to bring to life and have clear directions for us so we know what to develop! I help brands organize their thoughts into the language that we can understand as manufacturers. This ensures the development process runs smoothly. When you call our office line looking for help, I’m usually the one who takes your call! 🙂

What has your career path looked like?

I studied Music Performance and Composition in Australia and then started my first company when I was 19 called The Live Large Project, we ran events that were all about empowering people to live passionately and successfully doing what they love, I spent a lot of time doing business development for our company and we had programs running in over 40% of schools in Melbourne. I spent about four years traveling and exploring as a musician and entrepreneur and didn’t move into fashion until I happened upon Indie Source, I loved the focus and drive of the company and it was a team I really wanted to be a part of.

What advice would you give an aspiring fashion designer?

Educate yourself.  Many new designers don’t understand the amount of work that goes into collection, even if a design seems simple. There are dozens of people that source, engineer, construct, and manage each project to ensure the designers gets what they’ve envisioned.  Use the resources around you and pay attention to the experts you have working for you (that’s why you pay them). Our company has thrived because we have a team of people that work hard and know the industry inside out, so utilize and listen to those people. Lastly, do not begin this process without a clear idea of what you are able to invest in your development and production. It’s much smarter to have target prices and a budget for your business than to fly by the seat of your pants and finance as you go. Planning is key!

Why Indie Source?

I come from a business and music background, so when the opportunity to work at Indie Source came up I was excited because it’s a totally different industry than what I’ve worked in before. I’ve known Zack and Jesse for a long time and I was excited to work with a company that is so dedicated to creating jobs, growing businesses, and making this industry accessible to everyone no matter where in the world you live.

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Any amazing Indie Source moments?

We’ve grown so much in the last 18 months and when we moved into our current office, we had the opportunity to throw a launch party and invite a lot of people within the industry, as well as all our clients. It was wonderful to see so many people in one space sharing and networking with each other where they otherwise might never have met, it was awesome to be part of creating that.

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

We are constantly striving to be as accessible to people as possible. We’ve made it easier than ever to give all the resources of the LA fashion district to everyone, no matter where in the world you are.

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

There is so much room for a person to grow at Indie Source and we have an amazing team! I’ve been here for over a year now and watched it grow from a few full-time office employees in a warehouse, to over 30 people in a big, beautiful showroom. Indie Source works as one unit, if something happens with a client’s project, everyone knows about it and is there for support.

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Crowdfunding: One Way to Finance Your New Clothing Line

Among the many doctor and actor aspirations, lays an ambition many are not equipped to start: creating their own business. As many startups 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 crowdfunding 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 crowdfunding 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 “Crowdfunding 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. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter are terrific platforms 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.

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Passion coupled with an essential connection with your audience and quality product, all combine to make both of these company’s successful crowdfunded 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 crowdfunding campaign and we’re now in production – product to be completed January 2017

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Meet Indie Source Trim Specialist: Johnny Quintero

This 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 specialist, 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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