How To Find Clothing Manufacturers

clothing manufacturer commercial garment manufacturing how to make clothes production Nov 09, 2021
Cutting fabric out at the factory

How To Find Clothing Manufacturers 

Congratulations! You've decided to start a clothing line to bring your beautiful designs to life. But, how do you find a clothing manufacture? Even if you know what you're doing, sourcing a factory can still be difficult. 

Before I share my tips on how to find a factory/manufacturer, it's important for you to identify exactly what you're looking for, have your part of the work properly set up so you can hand it off without any issues and know the things you may not know (yet), to make this partnership as successful as possible. 

What Type Of Clothes Do You Make?

This is important because just like people are better at some things than others, factories too have categories of clothing that they are better at than others. While they can all make clothes to some degree, a factory may be great at making jeans (for example), and not so good at making sweaters. Make sure that you begin your search with first finding factories that are good at what your business's needs are. 

When speaking with the factory, some of them will tell you, "we can make anything". If that's what they tell you, follow up with saying, "what do you make the most of"? You should get a more targeted answer. If they still don't answer that question, ask them who their past customers were. They should be able to share one or two and you can get an idea of what types of products those companies make so you can decide if they have the skill set to make your garments. 

Working with a factory that is well versed in the product category you're in is critical because making clothes has nuances that may get lost when dealing with a factory that is not experienced with that type of garment. This because even more important if your knowledge of commercial garment manufacture and construction isn't what it should be. Someone needs to know the ins and outs of the construction and manufacturing of what you're producing. 

Image courtesy of @nichylfashionuniversity on IG. 

Product Development 

What work are you handing to the factory? Will the factory also be doing your development (pattern making, Pattern grading, sample making and cutting)? Will they just be sewing? Will they be cutting and sewing? The more you know about what you need the factory to do the better position you are in to find a factory that can do those things. 

Some factories only sew, some do it all. If you know you need them to develop your products, then when you're sourcing (a term fashion people use when they say they're looking for something typically a service related function like sourcing a factory), you'll know right away what factories to exclude from your search. 

If you will be doing your development and handing it off to the factory to cut and sew, then you want to make sure you're handing them:

  • perfect patterns
  • perfect samples
  • perfect graded patterns
  • fabric

If any of these things are handed off to the factory in poor quality or with many problems, your bulk production is at risk of being in poor quality too. In my experience poor hand-offs are the first place to look when trying to figure out why there are quality issues. This can also result in spending a ton of money in trying to correct something that should not have previously been approved. 

Where To Look For Factories

 Some great places to look for factories are:

*Here's a YouTube Video Describing great places to look too! 

  • In Your Network- does one of your vendors work with a factory that they can recommend?
  • In The Garment Center-if you don't have a garment center in your town, then head to the internet and look up the garment center of a town you know has one. New York City has a great garment center, so does Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, and many other cities. NIC TIP: if a city has a fashion week, they probably have some sort of garment center/garment district. 
  • Industry/Trade Magazines-Often times, factories will post in industry and trade mags to get business. 
  • Your Social Accounts-I have a business account for my brand. I literally get at least 2 factories per day from factories. I have no idea how they find me, but they reach out. I keep their information for future use. 
  • Nic Hyl Fashion University Vendor Directory- I'm almost done with my vendor directory and share it with members of my program. If you're interested in my vendor directory, just email me and when it's available, I'll let you know. I expect to be completed with it by the end of November 2021. [email protected]

Interview Your New Factory 

I always interview each new factory that I work with to make sure we will be able to create my visions to the best of both of our abilities. I outline what my expectations are, how I work, what the handoff process with me is like, where they fit in the big picture of my vision, what other moving parts are happening so they have context to what my needs are. 

I have contracts for my factories to sign to protect my work, outline payment and what we do if I'm not happy with the work of if revisions are needed. 

I treat it like a serious relationship because it is. But for my business, doing all of this before they ever start working on any of my garments, makes the process so much smoother and because everyone knows what to expect, the process is so smooth and the quality of the clothes is better for it. 

Do You Need Help?

If you have more questions about how to better manage the production of your commercial garment manufacturing, where to start or any other related question, please reach out to me or head to the Nic Hyl Fashion University website to see how you can sign up for the program or speak with me about the problems you may be having with your production model.


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