Fashion is one of the most popular niches in ecommerce, and it’s no secret that it’s a difficult one to break into, especially if you’re a beginner. After all, entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe are launching new clothing businesses every day.
If you’re looking into launching your own clothing brand, it’s important that you can find a way to make your brand stand out from the crowd, and selling unique products is a great way to do that.
Of course, the challenge is finding those unique products, and that’s why many entrepreneurs opt to create their own products. Choosing whether to supply clothes to kids, adults, or even both is hard to decide, and you may need some help starting this process.
If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to launch their own clothing business with custom products, you’ll need your own designs, and you’ll likely need to work with a clothing manufacturer to turn those designs into products.
Launching a clothing business can be tricky, especially if you want to manufacture your own clothing, so we’ve created this article to guide you on your way. In this post we’ll cover everything you need to know when you’re looking for a clothing manufacturer for your brand.
Let’s get started!
Do You Need a Clothing Manufacturer?
One of the first questions that you need to ask yourself when you’re thinking about launching your own clothing business is: “do I really need to work with a clothing manufacturer?”
If you’re just getting started with your business it’s important that you know that working with a clothing producer can be a risk – both in terms of finances and your time.
When you’re working with a clothing manufacturer you’ll need to place orders for your inventory in bulk. That means you’ll receive a large number of products that you’ll need to store and manage yourself – this could eat away at valuable business funds if you’re starting on a shoestring budget.
This isn’t a problem if you find that your audience likes the clothing that you’ve created, but there’s no guarantee that this will be the case, and it’s an issue that even the biggest retailers in the world face. The only difference is that they can afford to take the loss if some of their clothing doesn’t hit the ground running.
Like we said, working with clothing manufacturers can be a risk.
If you’re just getting started with a business, or you want to experiment with niches, we recommend that you start lean.
We don’t want you to end up in a situation where you’re trying to clear your inventory out at a discounted price, which could result in you actually losing money.
If you were to start a business with the dropshipping model first, you wouldn’t need to worry about sourcing, managing, or shipping your inventory. There are a plethora of great dropshipping products that you can choose from, and your supplier will ship the products directly to your customer’s door.
Also, you can change the products that you’re selling with just a few clicks – there are no financial repercussions like there would be if you’d already manufactured the products.
All you really need to worry about is growing your business.
With options like dropshipping available, we recommend thinking about starting small to find out if there’s an audience that you can tap into before you start making moves towards working with clothing manufacturers.
Of course, finding a clothing manufacturer for your business and producing your own inventory is a great way to run your business. Let’s dig into the nitty gritty of working with clothing manufacturers.
Choosing a Clothing Manufacturer
When you’re in the market for a clothing supplier, you’ll need to ask yourself whether you want to work with domestic manufacturers in the country you reside in (for example UK, USA or Canada). Or you can source your products from overseas clothing manufacturers, like in China or India.
For reference, when we mention domestic manufacturers we are largely referring to clothing manufacturers in the USA or Europe, and overseas manufacturers refers to countries like China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Of course, both of these options have distinct advantages and disadvantages – it’s up to you to choose the option which suits you best in terms of funding, quality, and your business ethics.
We’ll break down some of the pros and cons of working with both domestic and overseas clothing manufacturers below.
Domestic vs. Overseas Suppliers
Domestic Clothing Manufacturers
We live in a world where buyers are becoming increasingly conscious about the materials that are used to make the products that they’re purchasing and the working standards of the people who are creating them.
When it comes to domestic clothing manufacturers, you’re likely going to receive higher quality products, with much more regulated labor standards. However, these will come at a cost – it’ll be more expensive to source your products from domestic clothing manufacturers.
If you’re going to pay the extra fees to use domestic clothing manufacturers, it’s a great idea to emphasize the fact that you’re working with local industries in some of your marketing material. This can really help you to strengthen your brand image with buyers who are conscious of these things.
Another great benefit to working with domestic clothing manufacturers would be the shipping times – they’re going to be much faster than they would be if you were working with clothing manufacturers from overseas. The shipping is also typically cheaper than it is when you work with overseas manufacturers. Just another benefit to working with domestic clothing manufacturers.
One major downside that you might find when you work with domestic clothing manufacturers is that there is generally a much smaller choice of products that they can produce, when compared to manufacturers from overseas. This might not be an issue for you at all if you’re looking to manufacture generic products, but if you’re looking for something obscure you might find that overseas suppliers are the better option.
Overseas Clothing Manufacturers
There are plenty of overseas clothing manufacturers that can help you to create products for your business, and it’s often at a much lower cost than it would be if you opted to work with a domestic manufacturer.
However, the quality of products from overseas clothing manufacturers might not be as high as something which came out of a domestic manufacturer. This is something which you should always be aware of, as well as the unregulated labor standards that might be employed by those manufacturers. Overseas clothing manufacturers can include manufacturers from China, India, Taiwan and a host of other Asian countries where the majority of manufacturers are from. Clothing manufacturers from China have been the most popular for many years, with companies that produce all types of clothing for dropshipping and resale easily found online.
Also, it’s likely that you’ll experience longer shipping times for your products if you opt to work with an overseas clothing manufacturer, and shipping will likely work out more expensive than it would if you were to work a domestic company.
Finding a Clothing Manufacturer for Your Business
Okay, now that we’ve broken down some of the benefits and drawbacks of both domestic and overseas clothing manufacturers, it’s time to provide you with the info you need to find one for your business.
Industry Meetups can be invaluable for you in your search for a clothing manufacturer for your business.
Attending local events and larger scale trade shows will help you to meet plenty of people with connections to clothing manufacturers.
Directories can provide you with a wealth of clothing manufacturers for your business.
If you’re looking for an overseas clothing manufacturer then Kompass is fantastic for clothing businesses. Once you’ve found a clothing manufacturer you can reach out to them directly and give them an explanation of what you’re looking for.
This will come as no surprise, but search engines like Google are a fantastic resource that you can use to find a clothing manufacturer.
One thing to note is that manufacturers don’t update their websites regularly, so you’ll probably need to trawl through quite a few pages before you find any relevant results. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of legitimate clothing manufacturers out there!
There are plenty of groups on Facebook that are filled with helpful entrepreneurs who are looking to give back to the community.
Also, make sure that you read through the rules of the group and ask any questions that you have about starting your own clothing brand.
Bonus: If you’re interested in dropshipping, there’s a great Facebook group called Dropship Business Masterminds which we recommend joining!
Old Fashioned Research
It’s important to network and ask people already in the industry for advice on how to find the right clothing manufacturer for you. For instance, for clothing manufacturers in China, it’s important to ensure that factories have the correct substance control and compliance with textile regulations within your country. For clothing manufacturers in China, the UK, or USA sizes can be a nightmare if you’re selling in many different markets so having a manufacturer who allows you to create a custom label for your clothes is paramount. Talking to others who have worked with these US and Chinese manufacturers can help you answer all the right questions at the right time.
Choosing the Right Clothing Manufacturer
After you’ve gone through the resources above you’ll probably have quite a few potential clothing manufacturers for your business. The next step is to refine your list.
Take into account the following:
- Shipping Times
You’ll want to choose the manufacturer who can provide you with the highest quality products for a price point that aligns with your current business funds.
You’ll want to find the manufacturer which can provide you with the fastest shipping times (depending on whether you’ve chosen a domestic or an overseas supplier).
And, you’ll want to work with the manufacturer that has the most experience – you want to be sure that they’ll be able to deliver on your requests.
In the above section we gave you a list of ways that you can find clothing suppliers, but all of them are also great for validating the suppliers that you’ve found.
Do your research. Ask around. Try all that you can to find the best clothing manufacturer for your business.
In an ideal world we always recommend going to visit the clothing manufacturer so you can review their processes and their efficiency. We know this isn’t always possible, but if you can we advise that you ask the clothing manufacturer if you can visit before you order any products. This will help you to validate your decision to work with them, and build your business relationship, which is essential in a long-term partnership.
Wholesale Clothing Manufacturers
Wholesale clothing manufacturers can be the way to go if you are looking to start a small or large clothing business. Wholesale is a great business model if you have space to store merchandise easily as you can purchase large quantities of stock for a reduced price which you can then sell to your customers at a marked up price.
If you do not have the availability to store large quantities of stock for any period of time you should consider dropshipping where no storage is needed. After sourcing clothing from a manufacturer you don’t need to order anything — just simply offer the merchandise to customers to buy, normally online. Once an item is purchased contact the manufacturer or supplier to place the order with them. They will then organize to have the product delivered to the customer in an acceptable time frame.
Summary: How to Find Clothing Manufacturers for Your Business
To wrap up, here are the pros and cons of working with a clothing manufacturer:
Pros of working with a clothing manufacturer:
- You have the creative freedom to produce the type of clothing that you want.
- You are able to build a brand image.
- You have more control over marketing.
Cons of working with a clothing manufacturer:
- You have to bulk buy items.
- You increase the business risk.
- You need to make an upfront investment.
Start Your Clothing Business Today
Okay, that’s it – that’s everything you need to know when you’re choosing a clothing manufacturer for your business.
Remember, this is a big decision for your business, so take the time now to do your research and find a manufacturer who fits your business needs. The extra time that you spend now will help you to avoid any larger setbacks in the future.
If you’ve got any questions about clothing manufacturers, or about ecommerce in general, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below – we read them all!
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