Common Issues with manufacturing and why to work with an expert
It is imperative to work with a manufacturing expert when starting a fashion business for several reasons which I will explain below. Much like you wouldn’t want to move into a condo building where it hasn’t passed inspections by a licensed engineer, you also wouldn’t want to put product out in the market that hasn’t been tested and of high value.
Unfortunately, the truth is manufacturers are in it to make money per the unit off your designs. They are not concerned whether or not your product was tested, if the fabric is good quality, or if the fit of the garment is good. Those issues are the responsibly of the designer or brand owner to figure out. They are in the business to get your product mass produced and that is all. This is the number one misconception in the industry.
The good news is there are companies like Design to Produce that will not only teach you the ins and outs of the fashion industry, but they will lead you in the right direction when designing your product and be the face of your company when it comes to managing the factory and will sort out all production issues for you as they arise, which yes 9 times out of 10 there will be a production issue.
Using an expert will help to streamline them but at the end of the day people making your product are human and mistakes are made, but that shouldn’t be your concern, it should be how to get it fixed it in a timely manner where the relationships between you and the manufacturer are kept intact, because let’s face it, it’s not easy to build that relationship with a factory when you are a startup brand.
Like any business relationship you build trust and need them to be able to refill an order should you need to easily reorder product or add new fashion designs. Also, at that point in the game you should have already established your ‘brand standard’ with them.
Some common manufacturing issues that have come up when I designed on the corporate side as well as for my start up brands are:
- Quality of trims used in the apparel was bad, elastics, buttons broke
- Seams were not sewn completely or crooked
- Threads were not cut off
- Logo on tags was incorrect
- Heat transfers on clothing peeling off
- Fabric shrunk considerably when washed
- Hardware or buttons falling off garments
- Elastic peeking through from behind folded edges
As you can see most of these issues can be easily resolved and fixed, it does cause delays but its really the nature of the industry. If your product is properly developed using a fashion industry expert you can usually catch any fabric, fit issues before going into production, then its just a matter of managing the factory to quickly fix any minor issues that come up in the process.
Many of my clients in the past 8 years of having my apparel design and manufacturing company, have come to me after unsuccessfully trying to work with a manufacturer direct. Their typical issues are:
- Not being able to effectively communicate with a manufacturer due to lack of knowledge of the fashion 'industry lingo'
- Not knowing how to communicate with overseas factories where English is their 3rd language causing delays in getting samples and manufacturing completed.
- When issues arise with the factory, were unable to come to a resolution
- Factory pushed their product aside for bigger brands
- Their design vision was never understood leaving them with prototypes that were unusable
- Wasted time and money on clothing samples that they weren’t able to produce
- The factory bait and switched them when it came to quality
- Not able to have access to their proprietary information, tech packets and digital patterns
- Unable to negotiate costs effectively
With all of that being said there is an enormous amount of value received when working with a fashion industry expert to oversee and manage all of your garment production. The value and benefits of working with a 'real' fashion industry design and Manufacturing expert are:
- 20+ years of relationships with large factories from my background designing for big brands like Victorias Secret and Coach, so you work only with and pay me/my company, the price per unit. It includes all shipping door to door, no hidden expenses.
- You will save countless hours not having to manage the supply chain and manufacturing issues. The number one value, of working my company is the guidance in developing original product and not taking on the risk of trying to work with a manufacturer without having any experience in the industry or dealing with manufacturers.
- Another advantage of working with DTP is, I give each of my manufacturer thousands of dollars of business every year which is why I am able to get low cost, low minimums for my clients of 200 units/style, in addition, because of my amazing relationships with them, I get them to pay attention to my client’s product, even when they are producing for big box brands like NIKE and adidas. They also give me discounted costs knowing that I consistently give them repeat orders.
- Having a factory contact alone would not benefit my clients because they don’t know what they are doing and see the value in my guidance, and they are happy to avoid costly mistakes and potentially being taken advantage of by a manufacturer
- When you have never dealt with apparel manufacturers on development and don’t know the industry lingo or how to ask for what you need, it creates a lot of delays, mistakes and ultimately your money. ~ I have had several over the years that have tried that route come to me after wasting a year or two, and needing to start over.
- On manufacturing- I am covered with 30 days trade assurance upon receiving the goods, if anything needs to be fixed replaced. Etc.
- My clients can focus on selling their product, while I handle all the quality control, shipping and manufacturing logistics, which ensures they can sleep at night knowing all the details are taken care of.