When you’re starting out in fashion and planning the initial stages of production and product development, one of the most important decisions you’ll be making is your apparel manufacturing requirements. However, if you’re new to the industry, working with garment factories can seem like a daunting task.
Planning and research are crucial at this stage, as not all clothing manufacturers work in the same way. Many emerging designers don’t realise that not all factories will complete your clothing line from start to finish and, more importantly, you might not want them to. Retaining control over design and processes is something that can set your brand apart from the rest, so what options do you have if this is your business model.
Types of clothing manufacturing
There are two main avenues in garment production. If you are looking to retain overall control of processes, working with a CMT (Cut, Make, Trim) factory is the best option. However, if you require assistance in all aspects of the production process, an FPP (Full Production Package) could be suitable for your brand.
Both methods hold clear benefits, but your choice depends on your individual business needs, the stage in which you are currently producing a product and, of course, budget.
Take a look at the different types of clothing production and how each could support your fashion brand.
What is CMT manufacturing?
Simply put, Cut, Make, Trim (CMT) manufacturing is a service provided by factories that essentially cut, make and trim your designs into fully produced products. The factory will require specifications, tech packs, fabrics, patterns and stitching requirements from you before production.
After factories have received this information, there are three main steps to develop your product:
Stage one: Cut
Pattern cutting is the first phase of CMT production. The fabric will be cut depending on the pattern and grading supplied. Manufacturers will often use special machines and technology to create a precision cut to ensure the best quality results.
Factories work to your specifications, so if there are any errors, this could prove costly. It is essential to supply a comprehensive tech pack to reduce these issues. If you need some advice on how to create one, check out our article – How To Make a Tech Pack and sign up to Sewport and utilise our free Tech pack creator
Stage two: Make
After cutting the fabric, manufacturers will move onto the next stage - making the garments. This entails stitching the material together, which will create the final product. Again, this is often completed by machinery to get a fast and precision finish.
Stage three: Trim
Once the final product has been stitched together, the finishing touches are completed. This final stage also involves conducting a thorough quality check of the garment before delivery to the client.
The benefits of CMT manufacturing
CMT can be an excellent choice for designers, who are already producing on a small scale and need to outsource to increase their production quantities. Using a CMT process allows you to retain control over fabric selection, as well as aspects such as swing tags, labels and any extra packaging. Using this production method can also give you an advantage in terms of tightening lead times for demanding retailers.
It is essential to have an understanding of the production process for CMT manufacturing, as this will ensure your expectation are met. However, if you’re starting out in the fashion industry, FPP (Full Package Production) could be for you.
What is FPP production?
As the name suggests, this method means a full package solution from the manufacturer. From initial consultation, they create patterns, source fabrics and trims, make samples, and take you all the way through to garment completion
Alongside handling the CMT process above, FPP factories also get involved in a variety of other areas including:
When you start your fashion business, you will have an idea of the garments and designs that you want to achieve. To take these ideas to the next level, digitised drawings will need to be completed to make initial patterns for grading and cutting. An FPP factory can assist in this development, and turn simple hand-sketched drawings into full-spec designs.
During the design phases, FPP manufacturers may also be able to offer advice and guidance on trends and movements in the industry. As they work alongside textile suppliers and fashion experts regularly, they will have a valuable insight into what will work and what won’t. Of course, you don’t have to relinquish your ideas and plans completely, but considering this expertise can support product development and overall profitability of your brand.
Measurements, terminology and technical specifications can seem daunting when you have little or no experience in clothing production. For smaller brands, it is not feasible to have in-depth knowledge of this process while you are trying to run everything else in your business.
By working with an FPP factory, they can produce all your specifications for you to check over. Most garment producers will have set gradings and patterns for specific clothing items so the process can be quick and easy. However, they will also work with you on the finer details such as label, print design and hardware placement.
In FPP packages, you will have access to a wealth of textile producers and suppliers. Your manufacturing partner will be able to guide you on the best fabrics and order quantities for your budget. Plus, due to their relationship with external fabric sources, you should also get a great deal too.
However, there may be some elements of compromise on fabric selection. In some cases, certain materials may not be available due to minimum orders and others may not be suitable with a specific design. Your FPP partner can guide you on selecting the best fabric to avoid any availability or design issues in the production process.
Further information – A Guide to Sourcing Fabrics and Trims For Your Clothing Brand
Expert guidance and helpful resources
As part of the FPP process, you will have access to resources and expert knowledge that can develop your business. Your manufacturing partner can guide you through the entire process, often in areas that you hadn’t considered previously. One area that is often overlooked is the legalities of clothing production.
For new designers and brands, the formalities can be confusing, and the laws surrounding the industry can be complicated. By using a trusted FPP factory, they will already have ethical and legal policies in place to ensure you compile with regulation.
The benefits of FPP manufacturing
Economies of scale
An argument in favour of FPP is the potential of benefitting from the manufacturer's economies of scale when it comes to fabric and trim sourcing. For commodity goods, such as denim or simple t-shirts, their prices can often beat individual brand sourcing quotes. However, this does mean you are then directly competing in the market with the exact fabric as the other labels producing with them.
FPP production is obviously a more expensive route. However, for designers with little to no experience in the manufacturing industry, you are able to fully off-load operational responsibility and concentrate entirely on the brand itself.
Disadvantages of FPP production
FPP can mean a loss of control when it comes to the selection of trims, labels and swing tags. You may also experience limited fabric selections or limited availability depending on your requirements. It is worth noting, producers will generally try to accommodate brand requirements as best they can, and offer suitable high quality alternatives to meet your needs.
Which production method is best for you?
There are benefits for using both CMT and FPP, and they require some research to ensure you select the best method for your business. Considerations of branding, quality, consistency and cost, amongst many other elements, highlight getting this decision right for your label.
As discussed above, the differences in production are suited to both new and established brands depending on your confidence and knowledge of the process. To learn more about the production process, check out our article – How To Work With Clothing Manufacturers.
The next step is to find a suitable manufacturing partner and start planning the production of your clothing.
Finding a CMT or FPP manufacturer
There are several routes when it comes to selecting the type of manufacturer you need to collaborate with. Sewport connects brands with garment factories and offers a simple filter system to connect you with professionals based on your production needs.
There is a variety of FPP and CMT manufacturers available to discuss your requirements. Just simply, sign up for a free account and reach out to experts with questions and enquiries about their services. The platform provides the perfect way to start a conversation and network with suitable suppliers. Plus, it can help to explore the different production methods available and what could work for your company.
Sign up today and start your next project!