Fashion Production: How to Get Your Clothing Line Off the Ground
As an emerging fashion designer, you’re set on showing the world your gorgeous designs. At this point, you’ve designed your collection, determined your target market, and are convinced that people will want to buy your clothes. However, while you’ve certainly set yourself up for an impressive entrance into the fashion industry, you won’t be able to truly make your debut until you have the proper fashion production tools to bring your designs to life.
Fashion production is the most technical part of starting a clothing line. It’s the process by which your design concepts are transformed into finished products. Depending on the size of your brand and the number of garments you want to produce, the fashion production process will require serious organization, time management, and dedication.
Sound intimidating? Well, it doesn’t have to be when you have a good production team behind you. When you prepare yourself with detailed tech packs for your garments, a good fabric supplier, and a cooperative production house, you’ll have the stamina for a successful fashion production experience and a magnificent fashion collection to show.
The fashion industry didn’t make $1.5 trillion in 2020 based on designs alone. In fact, the industry would be nonexistent without the vast production teams behind every fashion brand. Let alone a sole fashion designer. No company can be successful without an adequate production team behind them.
The production process begins with pre-production, which involves creating your first sample once you’ve decided on the design sketch you want to pursue. This process is called product development and often requires a design to go through multiple rounds of samples before it’s finally approved for production. Once it’s finalized, this sample will serve as the prototype that your production team will use to create multiples of the design.
Assembling Your Tech Packs
A sample isn’t the only thing you’ll be sending to your manufacturer. You’ll also have to include a tech pack. A tech pack is an instruction manual used during the manufacturing process. It should include all of the following details:
- Fashion Product Sketches: A product sketch is a comprehensive, visual representation of your design. This digitized sketch should show how the design looks from various angles and close-up views of the product. This assures that your manufacturers know exactly how you want the garment to look.
- Specification Sheet: Spec sheets are the written instructions your manufacturer needs to put together your designs. These sheets provide detailed construction notes and measurements for each size offered. They also include small samples of every fabric and trim needed for each particular design. Spec sheets communicate your requirements and expectations for each design.
- Bill of Materials: Commonly referred to as a BOM, a bill of materials is where you expand upon the materials, fabrics, threads, and trims used in the design of your garment. A BOM will include the description, product code, placement guide, quantity requirements, fiber content, and colorways for each fabric and trim used. You will also include details about the labels and packaging used for each product.
Tech packs are tedious for a reason. They make sure your production team has no confusion about how to put together your design. In addition, having clear-cut communication on how you want your garments to be constructed makes it easier to maintain quality control during the product development process.
If you want high-quality products, you’ll need to source your raw materials from a reputable textile manufacturer that fits your budget and meets your fabric quantity needs. With that in mind, it’s not recommended to source your fabrics from retail stores because the cost can add up quickly. Instead, register your fashion company as an official business entity so you can start buying your fabrics wholesale. Once you have a license to buy wholesale, you can receive discounted prices for buying in bulk.
Though it can be hard for smaller fashion businesses to satisfy the minimums required by fabric mills, fabric suppliers catering to independent designers are more common today. These suppliers allow wholesalers to buy smaller quantities of fabric rolls. Nevertheless, buying custom-dyed fabrics and prints requires you to purchase hundreds or even thousands of yards at once — a feat that many small fashion businesses cannot afford.
Managing Your Production Needs
Selecting fabric suppliers and trying to meet minimums can get overwhelming, which is why partnering with a fashion production team can make a world a difference. For example, at TEG, our seasoned group of in-house fashion industry professionals can help with all your fabric sourcing needs. Our sourcing manager will help you acquire fabric swatches, trim samples, and fabric treatments for each of your designs.
At TEG, we provide creative service packages to guide you through the textile selection and procurement process. Take a look:
Fabric and Trim Sourcing
- Sourcing intake session
- Expert input and planning
- Swatches and trims gathered
- Negotiate pricing and minimums
- Guidance in POs and ordering
- Tracking receipt of orders
- 1-2 rounds of revisions
Fabric Treatment Management
- Treatment intake session
- Expert input and planning
- Artwork and lab dips coordinated for approvals
- Negotiate pricing and minimums with local vendors
- Guidance in ordering
- Coordinate send-outs for sampling or production
- Management of projects through completion
- Fabric dying and treatments, screenprinting, embroidery, pleating, custom prints, and more
Choosing a Production House
Once you’ve assembled your design samples, created your tech packs, and chosen your fabric suppliers, you’ll need to determine who and where your production house is going to be. Many large-scale brands choose to invest in international production houses. But is this what you want for your brand? For example, wouldn’t it be nice to say you had clothing manufactured in America?
Maintaining good communication and quality control during production is much easier when you manufacture your apparel in your own country. When you have the advantage of meeting the production team, touring their facilities, and overseeing their work process, you gain hands-on knowledge of how your garments are produced. Manufacturing domestically also allows you to check your designs throughout the production process and make modifications when needed.
TEG’s Los Angeles manufacturing facility caters to a wide range of production volume needs. We provide competitive costing and expert production management to emerging and established designers alike. So whether you need 50 or 500 pieces produced, TEG will supply top-of-production samples and quality control checks throughout the manufacturing process.
TEG’s team of highly skilled production sample sewers are employed full-time, year-round. On top of that, all factories partnered with TEG have gone through extensive safety vetting and are in full compliance with California labor laws. Producing your fashion line with TEG assures you — and your customers — that your products are domestically and ethically made.
Educate Yourself in the Fashion Production Process
Fashion production is an indispensable part of creating a clothing line. Even if you prefer to stick to the creative side of the apparel industry, knowing the ins and outs of product development and manufacturing will make you a more capable fashion designer. Once you’ve assembled your tech packs, sourced all your fabrics, and chosen an outstanding fashion production supplier like TEG, you’ll be on your way to launching your most spectacular fashion line yet.
Along with assisting your fabric sourcing needs, TEG provides high-quality design and strategic planning services you won’t find elsewhere. Our top-of-the-line sourcing managers will skillfully guide you through the technicalities of negotiating minimums and prices, tracking orders, and more.
Whether you’re an emerging or established designer, we’ve helped over 2,000 designers bring their visions to life during the last 15+ years. We’d love to help you, too!
Please call or fill out the below form for all inquiries and questions. We will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!
Los Angeles: 800-916-0910 | San Francisco: 415-324-8779