Having a strong relationship with your manufacturer is vital and can take your band to the next level. The best way to see your manufacturer is to view them as your partner rather than your supplier. A good manufacturer will work alongside you in developing and producing your garment. The most important things to ask and consider when choosing the right manufacturer are as follows;
● Ask About Their Manufacturing Process.
Each manufacturer will operate under a different process with regards to production.
Some manufacturers may require pre-production sampling, which is important to keep in prior to using a sample house. Another factor to consider is the payment process of each step. Whilst many factories will only require a deposit prior to production starting some may require full payment up front as they work under a proforma basis.
● What Do They Supply
It is important to ask your manufacturer what do they supply in their “package”. Your manufacturer may offer a fully factored service or only provide CMT, with many being somewhere in between. It is a key factor in differentiating the type of manufacturer you are looking to work with and can heavily influence pricing. Most factories will specialise in a particular sector such as womenswear or swimwear. Therefore their machines will cater for their speciality meaning they may not be able to supply the garment you are thinking of producing.
● What Is Their MOQ
MOQ or Minimum Order Quantity refers to the lowest quantity a manufacturer will accept moving forward into production. It is a important to know a factory's MOQ prior to beginning the sampling process as they may not cater for your quantities with regards to production. Remember to ask if this MOQ is able to be altered and if it includes different colourways or sizes. This is also applicable with Maximum Order Quantities. Some manufacturers will outsource on larger orders to their partners, this could be potentially overseas, before meeting with your manufacturer decide whether you are comfortable in doing so.
Timelines will be dependent on the capacity of each factory. It is important to ask the factory there availability to take on new clients and if there is enough time within their schedule to fit your production in! Throughout the year, there are standard peaks and troughs within the fashion manufacturing industry. To ensure your production or samples are complete prior to your deadlines, attempt to capitalise on these quiet periods even if it means you are months ahead of schedule. The best months to head into production will be late September/October following the end of fashion week and mid January following the end of the Christmas period. Make sure to ask your factory if they have set breaks during the year, many European factories will close during the summer period.
● Terms And Conditions, What Will They Accept Liability For
A very important step in working with a manufacturer is to revise and accept their terms and conditions. It is almost a given that throughout production and error will be made, whether it be large or small. Don’t be afraid to ask your manufacturer what they will accept liability for. This conversation may save a lot of unneeded confusion and potentially reduce future conflict. These terms and conditions will still be applicable following the completion of production. Often, a customer will come across a mistake or something missing from their garment. If you are still a small brand, you will not have the capacity to fix the garment yourself or operate a returns policy, you will need to rely on your manufacturer to fix the mistake. Ensure that an agreement is made between both parties on how mistakes and returns will be dealt with.
● Visit The Factory!
The best way to find out whether a manufacturer is right for you is to visit! Schedule a meeting and be prepared with questions. Ask to view garments they have made in the past and take note of the quality. Meet with their team and make a judgement on whether you can envision yourself working with them.