For the Fashion Founders: How to find a clothing manufacturer for your apparel line
If you’d like to start your own clothing brand or fashion line and are wondering how to get your merchandise made or printed, then keep reading to find some useful resources to help you get started! Chances are you won’t be making the textiles or weaving cotton yourself, so these resources will focus helping you find a manufacturer or supplier.
Before you set about contacting producers, you have some decisions to make, like:
Where do you want your products made? Locally, in the U.S., in another country with similar wages and regulations, or internationally in a country with lower wages?
What do you need to be produced? Clothing? Shirts? Backpacks? Shoes?
What much are you willing to pay? You may need to pay for upfront costs and the costs of the materials. How much would shipping cost?
How much do you need to buy? Some manufacturers will require you to order a minimum quantity, so make sure you will not be left with too much inventory.
Is the quality trustworthy? Does the manufacturer have credentials or past customers you can talk to?
A plus side to producing domestically or in a country with high wages and more work regulation is that you’ll usually have higher product quality, fair labor standards, and more intellectual property rights protection.You wouldn’t want someone stealing your designs without you knowing! Downsides can include higher cost and potentially less choices in producers.
On the other hand, producing in lower-cost countries has lower costs and a greater selection of manufacturers. Disadvantages can include potentially lower quality of productions, lower labor standards, less intellectual property protection, language barriers, and longer shipping times.
A good way to test your idea might be on Printful, which lets you do one-time printing, so you know what your products will look like before you invest in a lot of inventory! Additionally, professional groups for contract manufacturing may also be a good place to source input from other people who have been in your shoes.
Once you’ve decided on the answers to the questions above and weighted out your pros and cons, check out some directories for finding producers or suppliers below:
https://makersrow.com/ US-based platform for producers/suppliers
https://www.sqetch.co/ EU-based online clothing directory for producers/suppliers
https://www.alibaba.com/ Asia-based platform finding products or suppliers
https://www.indiamart.com/ India-based platform for clothing producers/suppliers
For more resources on starting or growing your business, including our full “Guide to Starting a Clothing Company”, sign up at Skysthelimit.org.