Finding manufacturers for your clothing line (part 2)
In the first part of this article we looked at a fashion designer’s first steps towards choosing the right manufacturer for a clothing line. Let’s continue by diving in even deeper and pin-point what you must consider when you go through your production process.
First, consider where the manufacturer is located. Are they close to you? Perfect! Set up an appointment and meet with them! Start the quotation process and get a tour of the facilities. Enquire about the technologies they use, the lead times and the delivery terms. The goal is to get an idea of the services they will provide you, from customer service to when and how will you receive your goods. Enter these discussions with several manufacturers, and once you get quotes, compare them.
When you are talking to overseas manufacturers, getting into contact and building a trustworthy relationship with them is of course a bit more tricky. Nowadays you have the ability to order online, send in your sketches with very precise details and get samples in return. But nothing compares to an actual visit. If you get the possibility to travel and meet your potential partners, don’t hesitate. Go. You might find better deals for when you’ll produce in bigger quantities. Be aware of: delivery terms, FOB, Ex Works, even currency exchange rates. Because the product is not the only important part of your contract. But the payment and the delivery terms of your goods are also critical to the success of your line. Let’s look at the 4 main points you have to consider when you evaluate a manufacturer: product quality, money, time, terms and conditions.
Asses product quality by visiting your manufacturer. Moreover, your manufacturer might not have all of the components you will require for producing (trims, rivets, etc.). You might need to source them yourself. This will cost you more money and time.
Remember that it is not the producer who will dictate your retailing price. Your customer is. Your business plan should be ready by this stage and you should know the cost you are able to absorb for production in order to preserve your profit margins. Consider this: When do you have to pay? Do you have to place a deposit? How much of the order is the deposit?
Make sure you get confirmed lead times.You need to know when your product will be ready from the manufacturer for you to sell it to the end customer.
Terms and Conditions.
Check all the little details, like where will the merchandise be delivered? It could be delivered directly to you or to a warehouse for pick-up. When do you transfer the ownership of the merchandise? It could be outside of the producing facility or at the delivery. Find out which currency will be used for the transaction. And finally find out if you have any kind of liability insurance from the manufacturer, in case something is wrong with the quality of your products.
Once you go through these 4 points with your pre-selected manufacturer, use your negotiation skills to place your order.
This article was written by Alexandra, fashion consultant. Follow her on Twitter @Stylindublin