You’re ready to take your clothing line to the next level and start manufacturing custom apparel overseas. It can be a very exciting but also overwhelming process, so let’s go through an overview of what it the process looks like.
How to Design & Spec for Custom Garments
Design of custom garments typically begins with a fashion flat to convey all details about the garment. Depending on your drawing skills, most designers will do these on the computer using Adobe Illustrator, although some will hand sketch. Regardless of how you start out, most sketches are finalized digitally where they transform from fashion flats to tech sketches which include callouts of all garment details. These flats are then compiled into a tech pack which includes everything a factory would need to know about making the garment.
Finding A Factory & Sourcing
This can be one of the most intimidating parts of the process if you don’t already have established relationships or know where to look to find a reputable factory. Many companies will enlist an agency or a service to help them find a factory, as it can be a bit daunting to do on your own and feel confident that you’re working with a factory that will delivery quality product on time.
After sourcing and finding a factory to manufacture your products, the product development begins. The process will include submit and review of many items relevant to your garment. All of these items go through the review and approval/rejection process to ensure the final garment is made correctly and any mistakes are caught and corrected during development.
Challenges: Minimums & Lead Time
Some of the biggest challenges with overseas manufacturing include minimums and lead time. Depending on your product and factory, minimums on the low side will be between 600-800 pieces per style for complete custom work, and if you’re lucky you might be able to break that into 300-400 pieces per color way (for example, 300-400 blue jackets and 300-400 red jackets, both the same jacket style).
Overseas manufacturing can often provide a unit price that is lower than stateside manufacturing, but take into account a few things first. While the unit price is lower, the total price may be higher since you have to buy more inventory, which can be riskier. You’ll also want to be sure to factor in additional costs, such as freight, duty and insurance.
Manufacturing overseas to create your own custom garments is a huge and scary but often necessary step to take for many designers. The best advice is to do your research and don’t try to do it alone. You’re the expert designer, so do what you do best, and hire others to do what they do best.