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How To Source Fabrics and Trims for Your Clothing Business (DIY Option)

by Boris Hodakel  • January 21, 2019 • 4 min read

When you’re designing and planning your own clothing line, it’s easy to get carried away with your ideas and the concept of your brand, forgetting the significant details that can leave a product line a success or a failure. One of these aspects is the consideration of your fabrics and trims.

Choosing the fabrics and trims that will make up your fashion line will influence how the final garment looks, feels and fits on the customer and should never be an afterthought. From the offset of your designs, you’ll need to consider these aspects, alongside your fashion brand’s goals and identity, ensuring that you are creating a cohesive vision from start to finish.

From cotton to cashmere, fabric choice reaches far and wide. By conducting your own research into similar fashion labels, you can discover what your competition use, giving you an initial idea of the types of fabrics you should be looking into. Trims include, but are not limited to:

  • Buttons
  • Zips
  • Linings
  • Elastics
  • Lace

What Kind of Brand Do You Want to Be?

It’s important to consider what kind of brand you want to be from the very start of launching your own business. This will affect the types of fabrics and trims that you need to research and source because certain fabrics will suit certain products and brand identities better than others .

If you’re planning a new sports or athleisure brand, you should be looking into technical fabrics that you can use as additional benefits to your garments, such as moisture wicking or added breathability. If you are looking to launch an eco-friendly or sustainable fashion brand, you will need to consider closely the types of fabrics you use and how they have been made, alongside any additional trims you select.

The kind of brand you want to be will mould the types of fabrics you will need to use , so you need to become very clear on your brand identity and ethos prior to beginning this part of the design process.

How Do You Want Your Garments to Behave?

The intended purpose of your clothing line will also hugely affect which fabrics and trims you need to source. If your products need to be long-lasting and will be used often and for physical activates, you will be sourcing a durable fabric that can be washed time and time again. A high-end brand designing eveningwear would require extremely different standards and fabric specifications.

Whether you need washable, stretch, breathable, fast-drying or any other properties within your fabric will help you to narrow down your options when conducting your research, so make sure you get very clear on what you expect from your fabric.

How to Source Fabrics and Trims for A Clothing Business

Do It Yourself

It can seem like a daunting prospect to begin the search for the perfect fabric for your new clothing line. However, there are certainly specialist places you can go to receive help, particularly if you are new to the business.

Visit trade shows like Première Vision and The London Textile Fair to really explore fabric and trims in a professional way. Here, you’ll find experts in the fields and discover new and upcoming fabrics that you can get hold of before your competitors.

It is possible to use online resources to source fabric. However, many problems can occur when you haven’t seen or felt the fabric up-close and in person. A photograph can look very different to a real fabric , which can lead you into trouble when ordering fairly large quantities. If you choose to buy online, ensure you know exactly what you’re looking for and the questions you need to ask to ensure you’ve found the right material.

Use Sewport

Sewport aims to connect designers and entrepreneurs with factories and production manufacturing professionals in a one-stop-shop for everything you need to launch your new clothing line. You’ll find fabric manufacturers and specialist fabric agents, who can assist you with making or sourcing the perfect fabric for your brand’s needs.

Working with verified professionals in the fashion industry guarantees you expert knowledge and experience, as well as the safety and reassurance of conducting your business through the secure Sewport platform.

Use an FPP Factory

If you decide that you want everything from fabric sourcing and pattern cutting through to complete production taken care of by your factory, you can choose to work with an FPP (Full Package Production) manufacturer. You’ll find a range of FPP factories ready to get to work with you on the Sewport platform, leaving the sourcing issues to the production company and allowing you to simply make selections at a later stage of the process.

When buying fabric, you’ll need to know from the vendor:

  • Stock availability and lead times

All fabric isn’t simply available at all times. You will need to check this with your vendor and ensure they have enough and are able to get more for you to use long term if your products will run for more than one season.

  • Minimum order qualities

Many vendors will have a minimum order of hundreds of yards of fabrics, which may be much more than you need for your initial order. This is where you can try to negotiate or you will realise you need to find a different fabric vendor.

  • Costings

Costings will be different with every vendor. Bear in mind that the larger quantity of fabric you order, the better price you will be able to negotiate per yard.

  • Cuttable Width

This can change from fabric to fabric and isn’t always a standard width. This can drastically change the amount you can use per yard, which can, in turn, affect your cost per garment totals. Definitely, something to double check with your fabric vendor.

  • Vendor payment terms

Whether it’s up-front or 60 days later, it’s important to be clear on your vendor’s payment terms from the beginning.

Don’t get carried away with the intricacies of your designs without placing enough importance on the fabric that’s going to make each piece. Fabric selection can take time, even changing after you’ve been through the sampling part of the process, but it can be the difference between a make or break product.


About the author:

Boris Hodakel is the founder and CEO of Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.