With costs of labor and fabric soaring, budget-conscious designers are cutting costs wherever possible, especially in the early years of a budding business. Even larger apparel makers are redesigning clothing to extract savings.
It All Adds Up
During product development, eliminating a decorative stitching and seam that costs $0.20-$0.50 per garment doesn’t seem like a lot, but when scaled larger, it’s a significant saving. Thinking about practicality will help to determine whether certain design elements are useful or not. Always lean towards utility rather than decoration when determining whether a design element (like cuffs, pleats, etc.) should be eliminated. Making less complicated patterns and creating smaller pattern pieces vs. few big pieces can, in turn, create better markers and can reduce waste by $0.50. Fabric takes half the cost of the garment, while the other half is a combination of trims, shipping costs, sample making, production costs, and more. In some cases, fashion trends can make a designer’s life easier too. The slim silhouette favored in suits by young men or miniskirts and cropped tops loved by teenage girls, for instance, can save a lot of fabric, and therefore money.
Put A Label On It
When designing a garment, symmetry is preferred. Symmetrical garments are easier to produce and are better for businesses that are just starting out and looking to avoid extra costs. Labeling pattern pieces clearly, eliminating patterns with “cut on fold” and “cut 2 or 4” can make the production process smoother and quicker. Always remember to label the following:
- • Grain line
- • Style name
- • Piece name
- • Seam allowance
- • Center backs
- • Center fronts
- • All necessary notches
- • If you require factory to make a sample, put together a tech pack and include a prototype.
A few more things to consider during the pre-production process is to have a professional company to do grading, digitizing and smart marking. Paying for these services saves you a lot of time and reduces the fabric waste. You can also cut cost on pre-cutting fabric before sending it off to the factory, which immediately reduces shipping weight off the bat.
Think Global, Act Local
In the early stages of manufacturing, it’s better to start local. Not only do overseas factories ask to meet hefty minimum orders, but their turnaround time is about three weeks slower than that of domestic manufacturers. This can hurt profits because it doesn’t allow the product to reach customers as quickly. For a business to thrive, it needs to fulfill as much demand as possible, and often as early as possible. Working with factories nearby can be a great benefit to your business because it may completely eliminate shipping costs, there’s more flexibility on an initial investment because you can start with lower inventory numbers, and your increased production speed will allow you to fulfill more reorders for your customers.
There are many other ways to pinch a penny when just starting out in the apparel industry, but these are a few important aspects to think about. Practical design, smart marking, proactive pre-production, and producing local are all small parts to a very large picture- the success of your business!
Looking to produce your own line? Check out our small batch factories to get started.