In the fourth and last episode of our guide on how to create your fashion collection, we focus on how to source your fabrics and trims, on who is going to manufacture your collection, and on how to build your team.

How to source your fabrics and trims

Trade Shows & Fairs

There are a number of internation trade shows specifically catered for buying fabrics, trims and embellishments. The best of these are mainly in Europe: you will find the best manufacturing companies in these areas displaying and selling the latest designs available to buy.

Often the organisers of the shows will categorize new fabrics and trims within the trends they have selected to work towards for the season. For the designer this is most beneficial, as you will able to distinguish what the newest “on trend” fabrics and trims are.

What if the fabric or trim is too expensive for you?

Having sourced and obtained swatches from trade shows and agents, it is a common pitfall to then obtain the price and invariably realise the fabric is way too expensive, for you. In this case collect the composition and weight of the fabric and get a similar fabric sourced by a Textile Agent or your manufacturing source, to compare price.

Who is going to manufacture your collection

I) Who can produce your samples

The process for this is called CMT (Cut, Make and Trim).

There are a number of different ways you can go about this. Whoever is going to be your “to go” person, will need to understand the ethos and signature of your brand to beign with.

Working with a CMT Unit

You can hire a CMT company to make the patterns and produce the garments for you. This will give you ownership of your own patterns before you had them over to your manufacturing source. This will also give you more control over fabric consumption and invariably the final costing.

In-House Production with your Manufacturing Source

Patterns and designs are made at the factory where you will make your final production garments. Advantages here are that your final production samples are most likely be a better comparison to your original sampling.

II) Pricing and costings

The garment cost sheet is another vital part of the equation before any sampling is produced. Finite detailed info with regards to materials and freight and duty need to be added. From here you will be able to add your mark up costs and to see if this garment will be the right fit for your collection and brand as a whole.

III) Far East VS Closer to Home

There are many debates, with regards to the manufacturing near home or further away debate. Assess what is right for you, in relation to your time scales (when you want to sell the collection in relation to when the designs are ready).

Manufacturing closer to home may give you longer lead times, but you may find more peace of mind with the communication being a little easier. Statistically for designer there is less time involved with the product development working this way. However, you may find you need a specialist in an area of design such as embroidery that is only possible from the Far East.

IV) Ethical Trading or Not

For some, this is the only option they would consider when doing business and making garments. Some notable definitions for sustainability include Eco friendly, fairtrade, organic and greenwashing.

Bear in mind any whiteness and brightness you would possibly achieve on regular fabrics are sometimes in the missing with sustainable fabrics. People often site a preference to contributing in having less depletion of raw materials as reason for ethical trading.

How to build your team

Trying to go it alone

It is a common mistake as the “chief” to do all oneself. Letting go for some can be incredibly challenging but trying to work on everything alone can leave one exhausted and invariably resentful, resigned and ultimately want to give up.

Recognise the value of hiring a consultant. They are trained in certain specific areas and can really help to ease the burden of having to know it all.

You may fell you are using profits to do this, but in the long term you will gain much more with a much stronger and faster growing brand.

Putting together a group of specialists for your brand

Have you look at areas you feel you need expertise in. Do you need a designer to sketch and CAD your shapes so they are garment ready for the manufacturers?

Who is going to look after the garment development side of the business, that can often be time consuming, when having to deal with 2-3 samples coming back and forthbefore production stage?

Perhaps you want to outsource the trend research, so this will come done for you. Leaving you more time to work with the factories or other vital parts of the business.

Final words of advice

When you have designed your collection try to merchandise it into looks and think as a buyer. How would a buyer buy your collection and how would they merchandise it in their store? How many pieces should they buy at a minimum to be able to represent you best as a designer? Different shops have different aesthetics. Play around with your collection and imagine how different shops will buy. In the process, you may see if you are missing anything or have too much of something. Adjust accordingly.

We hope you have found the professional tips from No Name Design Studio team useful. If you would like to receive more advices, feel free to book an appointment for a fashion design consultancy at studio@nonamedesign.co.uk