Manufacturing is a dream that many apparel businesses have. Often times they start off with blank relabeled t-shirts that they print their designs on, but it’s just not the same as having a product specifically made for you! This is a costly endeavor though since many factories have a minimum of several thousand pieces. Especially overseas, which also means you will have to deal with the headache of customs, freight shipping, and the hard to estimate costs that come with it. You also get that ‘imported’ haze that comes with working overseas. No matter how good the quality of your merchandise as soon as people see it is made in China many of them will associate it with low wage workers, and poor craftsmanship. (Even if it’s not so!) Here’s how to get your clothing manufactured in the United States with low minimums, and a smaller upfront investment!
I’ve been looking into this for a while now, and it really interests me. I’ve always been fascinated with business, and my previous market just didn’t pan out due to small profit margins. The apparel industry on the other hand has astounding profit margins that you may not even imagine. This industry is all about branding. Two companies can make the exact same quality garment, but one will make $200 off of it while the other makes $50.
How can they do this? Because people are willing to pay. Billionaire Boys Club does not use magical thread. True Religion’s jeans are not sewed together by elves in Santa’s factory. I’m not saying their merchandise is poor quality. I’m just saying that it’s not worth as much as they want you to believe. They are pocketing that money. A brand pays a factory to bulk manufacture a high end pair of jeans for say $11. They turn around and sell it to a retailer for $75. The retailer again turns around and sells it to you for $175.
You may be thinking that you can get away with being a ‘value brand’ and get major market share selling your clothing for cheap. This exists already. It’s called Walmart. How many people do you know that go around proudly showing off their new Walmart brand shoes? Nobody, that’s who. Brand recognition is about status. If it’s cheap people think it’s not worth having. Even if the quality is equal, but for less money. You’ll need to price your brand to appeal to your target market as well as make sure it’s up to their quality standards.
Made in America is a big thing now, because people want to boost the economy by supporting at home manufacturing jobs. My play aspirations were to find a way to source all my product 100% from the United States. Which at first seemed like a daunting task. If you type ‘clothing manufacturing’ into Google you will be greeted by many sources. A lot of which you’ll want to run far, far away from.
American manufacturing is even harder to find however if you look in the right places they become more apparent. The absolute best sources for these I’ve found so far forums. Yes, message boards and communities. Instead of googling for ‘manufacturing’. Try googling for clothing forums, t-shirt discussion sites, and anything related because often times these people want to brand out, and will start asking about manufacturing.
Cut and sew is a popular term for small manufacturing companies that will make product for you. These places will custom design clothing from your patterns or even work with you on sketches. They can relabel, and add hang tags to existing products with your branding too. They’ll even put it in nice little poly bags for a professional retail finished look!
They all have their own rules, and minimums, but they can be very reasonable! A hat manufacturer I looked at has minimums from 120 – 300 pieces per style. This is for a United States made hat. Ranging in price from $5-12 depending on quality. They’re ready to help you design, and offer almost anything you can imagine. Printing, embroidery, leather, different brim options, foil, embellishments, and extras. They also do work for some very high end brand clientele. Yep, I got this name drop from a forum.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for after searching. Try asking. I know it sounds obvious, but many of these people have been in your position before, and don’t mind sharing resources if you’re nice about it. However, don’t expect people to just give up all their hard earned contacts. You’ll have to do the research yourself. I’ll offer you a couple that I’ve found. Here’s the resource list for this post!
Clothing forums/discussions areas
This is really an art and design site for t-shirts. But the talk section has lots of useful information relevent to this posting.
HUGE site. The theme is t-shirts, but everything apparel related can be found here. Printing companies, marketing ideas, cut and sew, ect.
Offers cut n sew, printing, and more. Custom shirts, hats, polos, ect.
Resource that lists small volume or sample production companies for apparel of all types. Many don’t have websites, but phone numbers and addresses are listed if you want to work locally!
This one’s actually a Canadian company. If you’re not picky about overseas manufacturing or you live in that area they have a nice looking portfolio, and can make a variety of products. Their minimums are not listed though so you’ll have to inquire!
Another Canadian company, but a very nice resource. Lots of quality products that can be relabeled. Or your own custom stuff.
Blog run by a successful t-shirt start up veteran. Pretty much any information you could ever want about starting a clothing line.
This big list of t-shirt blogs and sites would be a great resource for finding information for your clothing company or if you need to promote a line. Many t-shirt blogs will review your stuff and get you traffic!
Originally posted 2010-09-30 23:38:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
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