Getting into apparel manufacturing can be a bit intimidating. Clothes are such a commonplace part of our lives that it’s easy to take the manufacturing process for granted. You just come up with a design, find a manufacturer and you’re ready to go, right?
Not by a long shot.
The further you get into the apparel manufacturing process, the more obvious it becomes that cut and sew manufacturing is anything but simple. A lot of time, thought and work goes into creating the clothes on our backs, and if you want your new apparel or accessories line to succeed, you need to think through a lot of details.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the biggest challenges you’ll need to tackle as you get your new apparel line up and running.
Creating Your Apparel Tech Pack
Designing clothing or accessories and cut and sew manufacturing are two very different things. When you’re putting your designs together, you control everything. You can feel the fabric, try it on your model, adjust the fit, and tweak every aspect of the final product.
It’s a very custom, hands-on process—one that doesn’t translate very well when you send your design ideas overseas.
To bridge the gap between design and manufacturing, you need to create an apparel tech pack. In a nutshell, an apparel tech pack is a standardized, codified version of your design. It breaks down all of the little details that make your design perfect in a way that your manufacturer can easily understand and replicate.
Here are some of the things you may want to include in your apparel tech pack:
- Full-color product sketches
- List of parts
- Dimensions (overall, individual pattern pieces, etc)
- Assembly diagrams
- Size chart
- Pantone colors
- Fabric specifications
- Trim details
- Care label instructions
- Stitching details
- Buttons/hardware specifications
- Artwork placement
- Packing instructions
Without a good apparel tech pack, your manufacturer has to guess what you want, send you a sample, get your corrections, make another sample, get your corrections…and so on. All of this back-and-forth wastes a lot of time and money for both you and your manufacturer, which can create a lot of challenge and frustration for everyone.
So, before you even reach out to a manufacturer, make sure you’ve taken the time to put together an apparel spec sheet for each item you want to create. That way, the manufacturer has a much better chance of getting things right the first time.
If you’ve never put a tech pack together before, you may want to use a service like Techpacker the first time around. Or, alternatively, you might want to hire a company like VOX MG to help you create your spec sheets. Either way, if you want to launch a successful new apparel or clothing accessories line, you’ll want to start by putting together a well-designed tech pack.
Cut and Sew Manufacturing
Creating your apparel tech pack is just the first step in the cut and sew manufacturing process. Once you’ve formalized your designs, you need to find a reputable manufacturer to produce them.
Here, things get a bit more complicated. While the internet has made it a lot easier to reach out to manufacturers across the globe, there are still a lot of obstacles you’ll need to overcome.
Finding a Manufacturer
One of the biggest problems with finding your own manufacturer is dealing with the language barrier. Your tech pack will help with this, but it can be hard to get a sense of the knowledge and experience of a manufacturer when you don’t speak their language.
In addition, without actually visiting the facility or having a feel for the local culture, you won’t really have a sense of the reputation of a manufacturer or how they treat their employees.
Another problem is that factory listings on sites like Alibaba are often a bit misleading. These listings are usually managed by a third party, so even if you feel like you’ve communicated things clearly, you don’t really know what information is actually being given to the factory.
Working with a Product Sourcing Partner
To be honest, unless you visit the factory yourself, it can all feel like a big guessing game. That’s why many businesses opt to hire a product sourcing partner to help them find a reputable manufacturer.
For example, VOX MG has over twenty years of experience sourcing products. We have over a dozen employees overseas who help us ensure that our clients’ apparel lines are produced the right way, by the right manufacturer.
Whether you hire a product sourcing partner or do it yourself, finding the right cut and sew manufacturer is a critical part of the apparel manufacturing process. Get it right, and you can focus on selling your new apparel line. Get it wrong, and you’ll waste tons of time and money dealing with bad product and unhappy customers.
Getting a new apparel or clothing accessories line started can be challenging, but taking the time to create a high-quality tech pack and find the right manufacturer is an investment in your future. If you make sure to get things right in the beginning, you’ll be set up for long-term success.
Once you’ve set up your cut and sew manufacturing, though, there’s still a lot to do to get your line up and running. You’ll need product photography (including lifestyle photography, ideally), a payment system, a retail distribution platform and a lot more.
However, we’ll save that for other posts. For now, focus on getting your cut and sew manufacturing up and running and you’ll be well on the way to making your dreams a reality!
By the way, if you’d like help with putting together your tech packs or finding a manufacturer, reach out to us here! We’ve helped dozens of businesses just like yours navigating the cut and sew manufacturing process and we’d love to make you our next success story!