Working with professional garment manufacturers is how many designers get their fashion designs made. Like any business though, working with another party to have your product made can come with challenges.
If you’re ready to turn your fashion designs into reality by working with a fashion manufacturer, bookmark this blog or commit these helpful tips to memory to avoid any miscommunications and mistakes between you and your manufacturer.
Mistake 1: Miscommunication on Fashion Tech Packs
A common mistake between fashion designers and manufacturers is miscommunication. Specifically, miscommunication on a fashion designer’s tech pack. New fashion designers often do not realize that tech packs need to be detailed and contain a lot of information. If manufacturers receive tech packs with vague instructions and sketches, the result will be a garment that you had not envisioned, an inaccurate production cost estimate, and wasted time. This will also frustrate and waste time for your manufacturer, as they try to figure out your design.
Failing to update your tech pack and inform manufacturers of changes you’ve made to your design is another mistake that happens a lot with new designers.
Mistake 2: Unclear Garment Sizing Instructions
If you’re working with a manufacturer who is not in the same country as you, they are going to have differences in standard garment sizing measurements. The size chart you follow is not going to be the same in another country, so you cannot assume that the manufacturer is going to know which one you’re following. Specify if you want your designs to use a US or EU sizing chart, or if you’re creating your own, make sure to include clear measurements for every aspect of your design, in every size you want created. While sizing might seem obvious to you, it’s best to never assume, and always clearly state what you have in mind.
Mistake 3: Failing to Confirm Quality Production Work
Before you settle on a specific manufacturer for production, make sure that you order a sample of your design from them first. This shows you the workmanship quality of your selected producer before you get in too deep on cost and timeline. If the sample is poorly done, that indicates that the designs may be made in the same way and you’ll probably have defects.
If possible, check out your manufacturers in person, make sure they’re vetted by a trustworthy source, or look at examples of their work in their factory profile.
While there will sometimes be human error, if your sample looks professional, that is a good sign that defective products will be less likely to happen.
Mistake 4: Not Accounting for Payment and Shipping Issues
Payment and shipping can be tricky when working with another country. When you send out your payments, make sure that you’re able to send money out in the correct currency for you and your manufacturer, without a huge currency conversion up charge.
Make sure also to include shipping in your timeline for production. Depending on the quantity of products you’ve ordered, production can take weeks to months to complete, and that doesn’t include the shipping. Keep in mind that there you will need additional time for that and that sometimes there will be delays. Weather conditions (or a global pandemic) can also impact these dates and that is something that is out of your manufacturer’s hands.
Mistake 5: Mis-structuring Your Fashion Designer-Manufacturer Relationship
While it’s great to be on good terms with your manufacturer, your manufacturer is not your business partner. You are the fashion designer and the one planning and starting your business. When you start working with a manufacturer, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to create and have a solid business plan already in place. Fashion manufacturers are there to produce and bring your designs to life. This is their livelihood and their business; they want and need to work with serious designers who are prepared and ready to do work with clarity and seriousness.
You don’t need to be a fashion industry expert, but you will need to have some understanding about how design and apparel production works. If you need help and/or consulting on any part of your business plan or your designs, you will need to seek out that advice, rather than relying on your garment manufacturer to fill in knowledge gaps for you.
There is no perfect way to do something, and mistakes will still be made, but if you study and research beforehand you will be able to avoid a lot of them (especially the most expensive ones!)