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  • 08/16/2019

Starting a Clothing Line: Our Unique Development Process for Building Successful Brands

Starting a Clothing Line: Our Unique Development Process for Building Successful Brands

1024 288 Johnny Donovan

We get questions streaming in from all corners about every aspect of clothing manufacturing. We’re often asked about the services Indie Source provides our valued clients. Zack explains how we build successful brands.


“Hey guys, just wanted to reiterate the process of how brands work with us. Just so that there is some clarity. We get this question a lot. How do we work with you, and what happens? How do we build the collection? So as you know, the first step is that kickoff meeting where you’re bringing together the cheat sheet and your reference samples. We sit down, and we go through and plan out the full collection. We talk about timelines, we talk about the fabric that you want, we talk about the price points that you want to hit. We basically plan out the whole thing. At the end of that meeting you will have a quote for your development. Based off of the complexity that you need and the type of work that we’re going to be doing. And that will encompass a number of things. 

(Download the Product Development Cheat Sheet)


So let me explain what that quote encompasses. So what we quote is two rounds of sample development. Usually that is all we need to get you there. Most other companies take three, four or five rounds. And one of the reasons is because they start with that information where we start with reference samples. Now the first thing that you’re going to see on a quote that we present to you is going to be the fixed portion. Now that’s the samples and the patterns on the sample side. You’re quoting two rounds of that, right? And then on the pattern side we’re going to make patterns. And then after the fitting, we modify the sample based off of what you tell us, and we make new samples again. So this is the fixed portion. Then we have a variable portion. We came up with this because we wanted to be able to find a way to provide designers support based off of their need. 

As you can imagine, the need can change some time. So we created a flexible structure so that you guys can use as much or as little as you need on the variable side. Our project managers; they are the people that are from the industry, they have backgrounds in doing this, and they’ve built many, many lines with us. And then before working with us, they were with brands in the industry. What they’re going to do is work with you directly. They’re going to help you throughout the entire process with selecting the fabrics that you want, determining the types of things that you want to achieve, a four price points, and building your tech packs. They basically oversee the whole project. They work with the vendors and our internal team here to build the products. And so if you want to call them, and work with them on certain components of fit fabric, function strategy, you can do that. We also have graphic designers here and a number of other services that you can reach in and use as needed. But the majority of their time will be spent sourcing and putting together your collection. That piece is variable and we just bill hourly for that.

So those are the two portions of what your development quote will look like once you get it. Once you go ahead and make a payment, what happens is we pass you off to a project manager. We do a kickoff, like it’s kind of like an intro call meeting. We give all the information to them so that they’re extremely clear and updated on what you want. And we get started. 


The first thing we do is source fabrics. That’s where we’re going out, and picking out vendors from the many we work with, and then presenting you guys with options. Now the cool thing about the way that we operate is that we decided we want to be completely transparent with our sourcing instead of hiding the information. And so what we do is we not only give you the prices, the actual prices from the vendors, but the actual cost is what you guys pay for. So let’s just say you’re doing an athletic line, and you want some polyester spandex fabric and a couple of different colors, we’re going to bring you a color card. And that color card is going to have prices on it. You’re going to see exactly how much it’s gonna cost and then ultimately choose to use that fabric. 

Say it’s $5 a yard and we need five yards of fabric. It’s just gonna be 25 bucks. You’re going to pay the vendor directly. And what that means is you get their information, you’re going to know exactly who they are. Ultimately, we’re trying to build successful brands, and that means you have to know what your supply chain looks like. And so this is a way for us to give you that access. When you walk away, you’re going to know every single person that you were working with beyond us. In this industry, especially in LA, it’s very fragmented. So we work with lots of different vendors for lots of different portions of this. And we’re the guys that bring it together for you. So we want to make sure you’re left with all the information when you’re done. So after the sourcing is done, we’re gonna begin with the sampling. 


Our pattern makers are going to build the highest level Gerber patterns you have ever seen. It is very clearly organized. We build pattern cards that are digital;  you own them, which means that you never have to build them again. If you’re the type of brand that is going to be a using similar styles as you go. And one question I get a lot is: if we build a set of 10 patterns, and then we want to change some things, do we have to pay for the whole thing over again? No, you don’t. You only have to pay for the work that we do. 

So consider this initial investment where you’re going to be building your first blocks is going to be the most expensive. And then after that, you can really work with the blocks you have, make modifications, use different fabric colors and prints and things like that. Really get good mileage out of it for a number of seasons to come. When your patterns are done, and once everything’s approved, we’ll send them to you. So you have those files again, you’ll have all the information that you need no matter what. And then the last piece is what you guys are hearing in the background, which is the cutting and the sewing of the samples. 


The sewing piece is really, really exciting. It’s actually putting all of the pieces together! Our team here is cross trained in many types of garments. There’s really not a category that we don’t do, and we’ve at this point are up to about almost 350 brands that we’ve developed and produced here. Really excited about that! Hopefully that answers some of the questions that you had about the process. By the time we’re done with our second fitting, we should be ready to go into production. We have a lot of brands right now that are excited to get their stuff out for the holidays. We’re finishing up some really, really awesome samples right now and we’re diving right into production so they have inventory for the holidays. If that’s something that you’re interested in, now’s the time. You can’t wait any longer. We’re not gonna have time to get your product done for the holidays if you don’t start right now. And at this point it’s going to need to be using fabric that is in stock which is totally fine ’cause we’ve got a lot of good fabric here. So if you guys have any other questions, or if this was helpful, please comment below. I really appreciate the feedback and we look forward to seeing you soon.”


We hope this information is helpful, and has clarified any questions you may have had. Should you require further assistance, or if you’re ready to get started, leave a comment or contact us! CLICK HERE

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