Apparel Manufacturing 101: Your Guide to Getting Started

Have you always dreamt of becoming a fashion designer but you don’t understand the process or where to start? You are not alone! In fact, the most widely asked questions from startup brands are where to begin and what steps to take. 

Starting an apparel line can seem like a daunting task but with the right research and preparation, you will save yourself a lot of headaches. Designing can be very exciting but when it comes to apparel manufacturing there are some key aspects that you must first consider.

ESTABLISH BRAND GOALS

All you can think of is how you are going to create the world’s best new line of dress shirts, or perhaps you want to design cutting edge activewear. As a clothing line business owner you should also focus highly on maintaining a firm understanding of brand goals. Your product becomes meaningful to manufacturers and consumers when they both understand it’s intended purpose.

 Answer These Questions:  

  • What do you want to make?

  • Why do you want to create this product?

  • Who is your target audience?

  • How will it impact your target consumer?

  • What will set your designs apart from a competitor?

  • Where do you see your apparel brand in 5 to 10 years?

Getting started in fashion manufacturing

KNOW YOUR LINGO

The truth is, successful development comes down to effective communication between the designer and the manufacturer. Familiarizing yourself with common terms used in the industry will save you a lot of time. Here are a few keywords that you should know before getting started. 

Tech Pack

A Tech Pack is essentially a blueprint of your garment. It is a full and accurate detail of how your product should be constructed. Also known as one of the most crucial tools to developing your product, a tech pack includes points of measurements, material allocations, colorways, trim & hardware allocations, labels & tag placement, etc. The more detailed a tech pack, the less room for errors and better communication for the manufacturer.

Patterns

Think of the pattern as the backbone of a well-constructed product. They have a lot of control over the quality of your design. Once a pattern maker drafts your patterns, the next step is cut and sew.   

Prototype

Have you ever heard of the French proverb “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day”? The same goes for the design process when crafting a prototype. Great work takes time, so you may have to go through several different prototypes until you get the perfect one. The main thing your prototype test is true to fit, fabrication, and function of the garment.  

Pre-Production Sample 

After your finalized prototype, the next step is to have your sample made. Samples are used as a guide to manufacturing your garment. They include all of the correct fabrics, trims, label placements and construction details your final product will mimick.   

*Please note that cost for samples and prototypes will often be more expensive than production costs. This is due to the fact that it takes more time to understand the initial construction of your designs. Also it takes more time because you are cutting and sewing single units rather than bulk production.

Grading

Grading is a system of increasing and decreasing sizing. Will you manufacture sizes XXS -XXL? Or 1X- 3X? Either option you choose, this process creates a different size pattern  for each one of your products.

Minimums

The minimum order quantity is the number of products a factory will accept. In some cases, factories will offer zero-minimum manufacturing. If you choose a manufacturer that specialize in working with startup brands then minimum order quantity will be low. On the other hand, factories who only work with existing brands or offshore manufacturers may have a higher number of required units to start production.  

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

As you work through fine-tuning your ideas, you will need to bring your designs from a sketch into a prototype or sample. This process in known as product development. To properly prepare for prototype production, your manufacturer will create a tech pack to outline all necessary components needed to construct a product.

SETTING A BUDGET

Producing a clothing line is not easy, nor is it inexpensive. It takes time, well thought out planning, and money. If you are seriously interested in starting an apparel brand then you should sit down and plan a budget. It’s best to do this before contacting a factory. Below is a list of stages that you must consider when determining a budget:

  • Concept development

  • Fabric and materials

  • Shipping and materials

  • Patterns and tech packs

  • Samples

  • Production Cost

  • Marketing and advertising

     

 

By Covania Washington from The Apparel Agency

Located in the heart of America’s Midwest, The Apparel Agency’s fully equipped team is comprised of industry professionals, creative and technical designers, pattern makers, sample makers, and production facilities to ensure your development and production success. With over 5,000 square feet of pure creativity – we invite you to join our team and become one of our brand partners as we take your business to the next level of success.

To learn more about our services and how we can help you go from concept to consumer, click here to visit our website.