The luxury fashion sector is ever evolving. What was once an exclusive and unaffordable niche for many consumers is now becoming an obtainable purchase for savvy fashionistas. In part, this is due to the massive influence in social media. Another aspect looks at how designers are embracing modern trends and luxury versions of comfortable casuals. High-end streetwear is booming. Plus the notable collection of designers such as Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Prada are now offering a luxe trainer in collections to support its athleisure offering. In 2017, Gucci and Louis Vuitton were among some of the fastest growing brands in the world. Plus, according to consultancy Interbrand, the sector has grown by a staggering 42% since 2017.
The way the luxury niche is changing is an exciting development for fashion. That said, if you are looking to produce clothing in this sector, quality still plays an essential part of your brand identity. With the line blurring between high-street and high-end, it is vital to choose the right manufacturing partner and suppliers to perfect your designer products.
We take a look at what makes luxury clothing different from mainstream options, and how you can work with factories to boost your collection.
Developing your own fashion label
First and foremost, determining your target audience is crucial. As mentioned above, the luxury market is growing. However, knowing where to place your product can make or break your success. This market thrives on ‘firsts’. This means being the first to bring out a new trend or creating something that everyone has to purchase. But, this is easier said than done! By creating a first, it can become your signature style and a product that your brand is known for. But, it is worth noting that it won’t just happen overnight.
Luxury labels have a distinct way of drawing people in. The perfect mix of beautiful products combined with alluring marketing is essential in building the foundations of your brand. In these initial stages of creating a designer brand, a business and brand plan are critical.
Take a look at the key areas to cover in your business plan:
- Brand vision and initial ideas
- Target market and customer research
- Competitor analysis
- Budget guidelines and forecasted financials
- Immediate and on-going marketing strategies
- Production and operations management
To crack the luxury niche, your business has to incorporate a different mindset to the general fast fashion approach. It may take you years to develop, but by incorporating a solid plan and establishing your target market, you will produce clothing and products exclusively for your audience.
Types of production
Luxury clothing manufacturers are often specialists in the sector. In many cases, they provide similar manufacturing options to mainstream production. However, there is a distinct difference. Quality.
These types of manufacturers have often worked with well-known fashion houses in the past, and pride themselves on producing expertly crafted garments. Many factories of this standard also have specialised teams that have many years experience in the sector.
You will usually find two types of production – Full Package Production (FPP) and Cut, Make, Trim (CMT) manufacturing.
Full Package Production (FPP)
Manufacturers have a strong network of suppliers and experts they use to assist in the whole production process. This option is ideal for start-ups and gives you access to expertise and talent in the luxury niche. Everything can be arranged from initial designs through to finished samples, plus fabrics are sourced to meet your requirements from reputable textile manufacturers.
Cut, Make, Trim (CMT) production
In this style of production, clothing manufacturers work from your designs and specifications. Established companies often use this method, as they have experience in providing technical information and accurate patterns to start production. You will also need to provide the fabric and trims to the manufacturer, so they have everything to get started.
Further information: Cut and sew manufacturers (CMT) or full package (FPP) manufacturing: Choosing what’s right for you.
Pattern making and cutting is a skilled craft. It is also vital for producing accurate garments. For a luxury brand, hiring the help of a pattern maker will ensure you get designs and specifications correct with minimal modifications. Patterns are also used in grading for production.
For further information on pattern creation, check out our guide - The basics of pattern making.
Sampling for luxury clothing
Samples of your products provide you with a first look at the quality and craftsmanship of your garments. As this stage, it is essential to look at aspects such as fit, seams, pattern consistency, construction of the clothing and sizing before committing to production.
UK vs overseas clothing production
In recent years, the lines between luxury and high-street have started to cross, and consumers are beginning to question whether high prices still mean better quality. In some instances, the ethical cost has also been highlighted such as Burberry’s decision to close factories in Britain in 2007 and relocate it’s manufacturing to China to make better profits.
Despite this bad press, manufacturing overseas in areas such as Asia doesn’t always equate to poorer quality. In some cases, UK factories find it challenging to supply the level of skills required, as fewer people are entering manufacturing as a career.
However, locations such as India are renowned for producing delicately embroidered garments, as this is widely practised hobby among the population. Alongside India, China is also a significant producer of luxury garments despite its relationship with the fast fashion world.
The thing to consider when choosing a luxury clothing manufacturer is whether they match your brand ethics. If you’re in the industry to make a quick buck, the luxury sector isn’t for you. With a focus on human and environmental ethical practices more prevalent in the fashion world, it has never been more important to maintain transparency throughout the production process.
In the UK, several specialist manufacturers are equipped to help small fashion businesses get their ideas off the ground. The pros of working with a partner closer to home include:
- Efficient communication via phone, email and instant chat
- Access to the factory and ability to meet the team behind the production
- Potentially shorter lead times depending on other factors such as fabric sourcing
- Access to materials made in the UK
However, one of the main factors of production is cost. Comparing production quotes will give you a good idea of the main differences in UK and overseas manufacturing. Alongside price, you should also ask these questions before selecting a production partner.
- What is the minimum order quantity?
- What are the average lead times?
- Do you have examples of previous successful projects?
- Can they source sustainable fabrics?
The next question is - where can you find the perfect luxury clothing manufacturer?
There is a range of specialist clothing manufacturers for small businesses looking to break into the luxury sector right here on Sewport. Search the platform for free, and create an account to contact suitable suppliers quickly and easily from your personalised dashboard.
Join today and get started on your next project!