Starting your own clothing line is exciting! But if you’ve never done it before, knowing how to get from point A to point B can be confusing and overwhelming. One of the first things you’ll need to do to start selling your own clothing line is to find a manufacturer who can make your designs at a cost that you can afford and in a quantity that you can actually sell to customers.
The recent tariffs impacting foreign exports and imports have complicated the process of working with foreign clothing manufacturers in certain locations. However, the Trump administration’s tariffs are not predicted to impact clothing manufacturers in Italy, making it an ideal candidate for U.S. fashion designers who:
Want to create high quality, lasting products
Want to create a versatile brand with a prestigious label and a fair price
Only want to work with ethically managed factories that pay their artisans a living wage
How to Find a Quality Clothing Manufacturer in Italy
Working with Italian clothing manufacturers offers U.S. fashion designers very clear advantages.
There’s a couple of different ways that you can go about finding and beginning a partnership with an Italian manufacturer, and each requires a different level of time and energy investment. Let’s look at each possibility one-by-one.
Option 1: Ask Your Search Engine
If you have a well-known fashion brand or plan on having a high production order, research how to find good clothing manufacturers online. If this isn’t you, you may be better off with one of the other options below.
Most large garment factories in any country will require high minimum production orders or a personal connection to a brand before they agree to work with foreign designers.
Most smaller Italian manufacturers and artisans who can deliver clothing orders with low minimums won’t have a website or online operations. Their manpower is more limited, and is mostly used to cut & sew.
Option 2: Plan an Apparel Factory Head Hunting Trip to Italy
Take 1-2 weeks to visit one of the many manufacturing hubs in Italy. Here, you’ll get to visit factory floors first-hand, and confer with their owners in person to see if they’re interested in producing your clothing collection.
While this option is more expensive upfront (due to airfare and travel costs), it goes a long way to establishing trust. Many experts recommend visiting your factory partner in person no matter where in the world they’re located for this exact reason. However, aside from the costs, large global events like tsunamis, varying trade policy, or pandemics might prevent you from visiting apparel manufacturers in person as you had originally planned.
Option 3: Find a U.S.-Italian Production Partner to Oversee a Factory Partnership
A U.S.-Italian production development agency or broker will manage your entire production process for you, from finding you an Italian manufacturer who can meet your requirements to, in some cases, running quality assurance checks on your final production order. This is the most hassle-free option, but depending on the product development agency you use, it can be the most costly.
However, an online service like MakersValley will handle all of these details and more for a commission-free, monthly subscription that costs less than a new pair of sneakers. Learn more about each level of subscription plan options
Which option most appeals to you? Was there an option that we missed? Let us know in the comments.