Create a Strong Partnership With Your Clothing Manufacturer
Your relationship with clothing manufacturers can make or break your clothing line. For instance, any miscommunication will be directly reflected in your garments. And if you have troubles with vision, payment, or timing from the start, this creates extra stress for you– not to mention costing you more money, in the long run, to account for errors. In extreme cases, delays can actually push back your launch, damage reputation, and ruin budgets.
So how can you avoid this? The first rule of thumb is to create a strong partnership with apparel manufacturers. The better the bond, the better results will come from your fashion line. You need to be able to communicate in an effective, productive manner and like (or enjoy!) who you work with. But how do you know who to work with? And how do you build a strong partnership? Read on!
Plan & Define the Product Development Process
First, you might be wondering how to approach a manufacturer. Well, it’s best to have clear expectations of what you’re looking for from the beginning to avoid wasting each other’s energies. This means before initiating a conversation, do some research on your own and draft up a few example sketches of what you’re going for.
You also need to think about where you stand in the development process. Where do you lack vision? Where can they fill in the gaps? Communicate these shortcomings, so they have a better idea of how to support you. The best fashion manufacturers will make an effort to meet you where you’re at!
Once you know the result you’re going for and where you need help, it’s time to discuss how each side will operate together. Who does what by when? Who is your main point of contact? What do they need from you? What do you need from them? In this stage, you’ll lay out all of the details, from timelines, business plans, and budgets. Create a concise schedule!
Remember, the more detailed and thorough you are, the better. Take into account different communication styles as well. Set preferences for how you want to be contacted and kept in the loop. And be incredibly honest and straightforward about what’s realistic for you, making sure to stick to your budget boundaries. If you don’t have a feasible budget, you don’t have a business! Again, high-quality manufacturers can accommodate and offer advice based on where you are.
Create a Clear Manufacturing Agreement
When you’re thinking about how to collaborate with fashion brands, drafting up a clear manufacturing agreement is key. For all legal and peace of mind purposes, it can be super helpful laying out the deliverables in a way that’s easy to read and see.
To get the most out of your agreement, be as specific as possible on timing and payment terms. In the end, you want to focus on saving time and resources for both sides. This way you can spend more energy on things that really matter, like sketches, patterns, and final results, and less time on minuscule mix-ups.
Laying a trusting foundation based on clear communication and attention to detail might seem like a waste of time. But be mindful that the foundation you set at the start of working together carries out to the entire production process. You get what you put into it! And as with any successful relationship, there’s a give and a take. Be open to opportunities, but of course, stand your ground when it comes to your precise vision. In the end, the right fashion production house should be easy to work with and willing to put in effort!
Define Technical Specs in Advance
Preemptive preparation makes for a much smoother and quicker process. So gather all your information! This includes a production-ready tech pack.
According to Supply Compass, “A tech pack is a document containing all the technical information about your product. It’s an essential document for both designers and production teams when producing new collections, as it helps clearly communicate every little detail about what you are making, to your manufacturer.”
The problem is that many designers often overlook or rush through creating the tech pack. While it saves time in the moment, in the long run, it costs communication errors and avoidable mistakes and delays. Take your time with it and be overly detailed than usual. For example, make sure to include things like technical sketches, a label file, spec sheets, and color and fabric preferences.
You might also consider diving into some of the technical aspects like pattern making methods. While you don’t have to know everything, it helps to have a basic background in sample making so you can follow your fashion manufacturers in conversation. Once you figure out the best pattern making process with your clothing manufacturer, then you can bring them the necessary tech specs.
Again, you don’t have to know everything, but it does help give your manufacturer more direction. Since fashion isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal, you can always expect some adjustments.
Lastly, you might consider involving your manufacturer team in your creative process. This will help them get a better insight into you and your expectations. And it will also be easier to relay your needs to avoid unmet wishes. At the end of the day, prepare as much as you can before you look into how to do a clothing collaboration.
Ask the Right Questions
Of course, the basis of healthy communication comes down to asking the right questions at the right time. But before we get into the best questions to ask a clothing designer, be aware of how you feel in the beginning stages of conversation. First impressions are everything, right? Pay attention to how they respond to you.
- Do you feel heard?
- Is it easy to talk to them?
- How receptive are they to your ideas?
- Do you feel understood?
- Does your vision feel understood?
Once you’ve approached a clothing manufacturer, you also want to consider things like their methods of pattern making, cost, fittings, and fashion design production timeline. Their methods and experience have to align with your outcome, and they should be able to give you an accurate estimate upfront.
And finally, ensure they’re able to meet your deadlines, especially if you’re looking for a seasonal or last-minute launch. Lay out all of these details from the start, and as production progresses, don’t be afraid to speak your mind and ask more questions about the process.
- How many fittings will be necessary?
- What’s your estimate of overall cost?
- What’s the lead time for sampling?
- What materials do you work with?
Skilled manufacturers will want to take the extra time to communicate with you! For more detailed questions, read 4 Questions to Ask Your Pattern Maker in LA.
Choose the Right Clothing Manufacturer in Los Angeles
Clothing manufacturers need to perfectly execute your vision, all while ensuring a smoothly run sketch to garment process. If you’re now wondering how to find a clothing manufacturer, look no further than right here in LA. At The Evans Group, we thrive off of helping both emerging and established designers bring their collections to life. Our team of production managers and pattern makers truly bring incredible effort into every piece they touch, making sure to accommodate our clients in any way they can.
With skillful methods, zero hidden fees, and honest evaluations from the start, we’ve served the Los Angeles area and beyond to create stunning clothing lines for over 15 years. We know what goes into a successful range, and we’d love to help you get there.