What to Look for When Choosing a Clothing Manufacturer

Choosing a clothing manufacturer is an exciting and challenging process. Whether you’re new to the clothing industry or researching a new manufacturer, our tips in the guide below will assist you with the right decision-making.

Here’s our advice on what to look for when choosing a clothing manufacturer. You’ll also find how they can help you start a successful clothing line.

Jennifer Evans showing two seamstresses how much it will cost to start a clothing line

#1. Clear Communication

The number one factor determining whether your end product meets your standards is clear communication with your clothing manufacturer, and we’re not just talking about ensuring there’s no language barrier. When you speak or correspond with your prospective manufacturer, notice the ease of communicating ideas back and forth.

Sure, you’re not delving too deep into the initial interview process. However, that doesn’t mean that your interview has to be superficial. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions to determine whether this clothing manufacturer would be a good fit for you. 

Ensuring smooth communication with your manufacturer reduces the risk of costly errors. And, poor communication can cost you both time and money. Therefore, it is always a best practice to ask a few questions to clear the air between both parties. 

Suggested Interview Questions to Ensure Smooth Communication

By asking the below-mentioned interview questions, you also get a good idea about how communication will be with this prospective manufacturer.

A clothing manufacturer's fashion sketch

Q) Are you taking new customers or orders?

Find out about their current production schedule. It might be a deal-breaker if you need to start production today, and they can’t work on your order until five months from now.

Q) What services do you provide?

This is a critical question, especially for emerging designers just starting manufacturing. Some manufacturers also do pattern making, grading, fabric sourcing, packaging, and other services. If you don’t already have materials purchased, you should look into having your manufacturer supply your materials. Because they are a larger company, they can sometimes get a discount. However, be aware, they may charge a commission for this service. 

Q) Are you scalable?

Sure, your first order will be small, but what happens when you grow? Is the manufacturer able to grow with you and fill larger orders?

Look for:

  • Timely responses to any questions or comments you make.
  • Intelligent questions to clarify what you’re seeking.
  • Satisfying answers to your questions.
  • The ability to provide services you still need (such as pattern-making).

You should also pay attention to whether it seems easy or difficult to contact this prospective clothing manufacturer. If they cannot contact and communicate with you clearly and promptly, you should pass on any potential manufacturers.

#2. Location

When choosing a clothing manufacturer, the second factor you need to consider is location. The location of your manufacturer will impact their communication skills and your product’s cost.

By working with a manufacturer located within your country, you ensure that you’re working approximately the same work hours. This means that you wouldn’t have a big-time lapse after you ask questions, and you would be able to avoid receiving the answers in the middle of the night.

Plus, it’s easier to answer some difficult questions face-to-face with a nearby manufacturer. When significant manufacturing questions arise, a nearby manufacturing site makes it easier for you to visit and explain. Face-to-face interaction often fosters better understanding and prevents future confusion.

This confusion could result in significant costs. If your manufacturer misunderstands what you want, your samples could have errors. With too many miscommunications, the cost may start to add up as the manufacturer remakes your samples.

Key Interview Questions For Choosing a Clothing Manufacturer Location

Asking the following key questions will help you determine if the clothing manufacturer is the right choice for you. 

Q) Where do you manufacture?

Luxury clothing manufacturers might have a couple of locations. For example, the business may be based out of one location, and manufacturing might be based out of another location.

Q) Can I take a tour of your facility?

Your prospective manufacturer should be proud of the facility and should invite you out for a tour before you even mention it. If your contact seems hesitant to have you come out or discourages you from coming by, that is a huge red flag. You should immediately pass and move on to the next prospective manufacturer on your list.

Look for:

  • A precise location for manufacturing.
  • An invitation to tour the facility before you even ask.

#3. Cost

We cannot emphasize enough on how important it is to run through your numbers so that you’ll immediately know whether a manufacturer’s bid is feasible.

Here’s a simple formula to help you determine your price:

  • Labor & Materials x 2 = wholesale price
  • Wholesale price x 2 = retail price (MSRP)

By ensuring your numbers are correct, you make it much less likely that you’ll operate at a loss when you’re in production.

Essential Interview Questions to Assess Clothing Manufacturer’s Budget Compatibility
Q) What is your minimum order quantity?

It’s important to know whether your minimum order applies to all of your items or just items of a specific size or color. For example, is your minimum order for 500 shirts in all sizes and colors OR is it 500 black shirts in small size only? This answer could make it cost-prohibitive to complete your full line with the manufacturer.

Q) What are the average prices? / Do you have credit terms?

Look for:

  • A clear understanding of the prospective manufacturer’s policy for minimum orders.
  • Does the average price match your needs?
  • An understanding of their credit terms and an opinion about whether or not they’re reasonable.

#4. Quality

Before you commit to working with one of the clothing manufacturers, you want to ensure that they do quality work. One way to verify is to ask colleagues who make items similar to yours. Be aware, though, that they might curb their praise or be hesitant to share information with you. Finding a good manufacturer is like finding a good spouse, so people sometimes hesitate to share.

You can also get an idea about a manufacturer’s quality by checking websites such as ApparelSearch.com or ABetterLemonadeStand.com’s directory. They do their best to keep an updated list of US-based manufacturers, what they manufacture, and their contact information.

Although finding your manufacturer listed on one or both of these websites is an excellent start to ensuring that you’ll receive a quality product, that’s not the end of your work.

Suggested Questions To Inquire About Quality

To verify a manufacturer’s quality, ask for prior customer referrals. The manufacturer should be forthcoming with this information, and you should get these referrals to ensure that these other customers had a good experience.

When you’re about to finalize a clothing manufacturer, send them your drawings, fabric swatches, or whatever you think they might need to recreate your item. When the sample arrives, look it over to ensure that it is exactly what you want.

Final Steps

Once you’ve decided on a clothing manufacturer, you’re ready to go. Read and sign any contracts that may be necessary, then move forward with the creation of your new clothing line!

For all inquiries and questions, please call or fill out the below form, and we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!

Los Angeles: 800-916-0910 | San Francisco: 415-324-8779





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