Fabric Sourcing: 5 Important Points to Remember

Fabrics are both inspiring and innovative. They help to set the theme of each line. Each season, fabric designers and mills create new color palettes, weaves and textures, fiber blends and printing techniques, lending fashion direction for the coming season.

We guide our clients in choosing the right fabrics for their product to achieve the desired finished product and price point. Starting with reliable and knowledgeable sources, and looking for these 5 items will save you a lot of heartache and money as you move through the design and production process.

1. AFFORDABILITY

In general, the fabric for your garment represents 60% of the overall garment cost so you want to be aware of your end wholesale/retail prices when choosing new fabrics each season. Creating a fit and quality at a price point your customers can rely on is crucial to create a growing and successful business. When you find fabric that works and sells well for your product, use this as a staple within each season to create consistency. Sweenie Manufacturing has various domestic and international fabric Mills resources that help our clients achieve this goal.

2. FUNCTIONALITY

It is one thing to create beautiful illustrations or flat sketches of your garment, and quite another to actually be able to build that in a three dimensional reality using the fabric and trims chosen. Sometimes fabrics will not hang or drape the way you envisioned, or fights another fabric within that garment so that they don’t function well together. So it is important to create prototypes to wear test fabrics within each style to confirm the functionality of the design.

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3. TESTING

In addition to testing your fabric’s functionality, you may need to test the content fabric so that you ensure the fibers will take any finishing application added. Such as sublimation printing, digital or wet printing processes, heat transfers etc. Some cotton or nylon fibers will not take certain printing techniques for example, so be sure that you are working in the recommended base fabric in order to achieve the best desired effect for your product.

4. AVAILABILITY

Where you purchase your sample fabric is just as important as what you are purchasing. You must be aware that if you are getting your seasonal fabrics from local fabric stores, they usually carry only a certain amount of yardage purchased as overstock from local designers or mills each season so it’s very possible that when you are ready to order your bulk, it may no longer be available.

Mills, on the other hand is a direct source to your desired fabric and in general they produce yardage and colors each season on new items. You can purchase small units to sample and then order bulk when ready.

If all yardage happened to have been sold when you are ready to purchase bulk, mills will allow you to order small units with a surcharge or to tag your quantities onto a larger company’s orders. It is safer to work with mills directly to ensure consistency and availability of your fabrics from season to season.

5. SUSTAINABILITY

Being able to promote your product as having environmentally friendly and ‘give back’ features is always attractive to both buyers and customers. Working with fabrics from producers that adhere to emission standards and environmental protection policies, to work with recycled fabrics, yarns and trims and even to offer a recycle option on worn and used products – where possible, gives added value to your line. Having the tools to choose the right fabrics for your product each season is crucial to your business. We hope that with the above tips, this will keep you moving in the right direction to success!

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We love feedback! Let us know what you think of these tips, and leave a comment below or continue the conversation on Twitter.

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