How Do I Find a Manufacturer for My Clothing Line?

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Finding a manufacturer that can produce quality clothing can be quite a challenge.  Working with a manufacturer has its benefits.  Doing so will allow you to produce unique clothing that will allow your brand to stand out from other brands that sell wholesale clothing items.  It will also allow you more flexibility in pricing, with the potential to make higher profits.  Working with a manufacturer means that you can produce more clothing garments in a shorter time frame since manufacturers have the expertise and equipment to efficiently produce garments.


In order to find a clothing manufacturer for your clothing line, you will need to conduct research.  By conducting an online search you can discover several directories, blogs, and articles that list or mention manufacturers.  You can visit your local library and search through available databases.  Be sure to ask for help from a Librarian to help speed up your search.   You can also ask other boutique owners for recommendations.  Find out what local organizations you live near and attend meetings to network with others.  Trade shows, local fashion schools, and incubators are also resources that you can consult to help identify a manufacturer for your clothing line.


Manufacturers handle pattern making, cutting, and sewing of fabric.  Keep in mind, not all manufacturers are equal, just like any other service provider in any industry.  Some manufacturers are full service and all you will need to provide is a sketch, your approval of the design, and payment and they will deliver the completed product to you.  Other manufacturers may require that you source fabric, labels, and other materials before they begin production.  Some may offer custom fabric prints while others may not.  Some manufactures may specialize in one or only a few types of garments while others may have a wider range of clothing garments that they manufacture.


There are several things to keep in mind as you conduct research.  How much will it cost?  What is the quality of their work?  How long will it take?  Are they trustworthy?   A list of questions that you should ask the manufacturer has been provided.


Here a few things you'll want to keep in mind as you conduct your search for a manufacturer.  You’ll want to make sure you can easily communicate with your manufacturer.  The manufacturer should be responsive by email or telephone.  A manufacturing facility may have USA in their business name but that doesn't mean their business operations are located in the USA.  It’s also a good idea to visit the manufacturing facility.   While at the manufacturing facility you should observe the quality of their garments and also learn more about their processes.  You should also make certain that any manufacturer you plan to work with is knowledgeable and conforms to applicable regulations and laws.  


If possible a contract should be drawn up to protect your interests as well as the manufacturer's business interests.  Keep in mind, even if you have a contract and the terms of the contract are not met it can be costly to take legal action, so be sure to do your due diligence and check the background of the manufacturer.  Also, be aware that not all manufacturers will agree to a contract.  Make sure to obtain a sample of your product before the manufacturer begins to produce your entire order so that you don't waste cash on bad production.   

Make sure to identify more than one manufacturer to work with.  Things happen, you may find that a manufacturer is unreliable or that a manufacturer goes out of business. 

Questions to Ask a Clothing Manufacturer
  1. Are they currently accepting new customers?

  2. What garments do they manufacture?

  3. Can they produce the type of garments that you would like to have made?

  4. What is their process?

  5. Where do they source their materials?

  6. Will the work be subcontracted out to a third party?

  7. How will you be able to track the status of your order from concept through delivery?

  8. What is the review and approval process?

  9. What are the minimum order quantities?

  10. How long will it take to receive the finished garments (lead time)?

  11. Can you get a sample made and what are the cost and timeframe?

  12. What certifications do they have?

  13. Where does manufacturing take place?

  14. Can you visit the manufacturer’s shop?

  15. What kind of products do they have experience making?

  16. What other brands have they done work for?  (references that you can contact)

  17. What services do they provide?  (pattern making, fabric sourcing, labeling, etc.)

  18. What is their capacity for large orders? (as you grow)

  19. What are the shipment methods?

  20. What are the payment terms?

  21. What are their terms and conditions?

  22. Do they provide custom labels, tags, and packaging options?

  23. Do they have a wide range of fabrics, notions, and other accessories for you to select from?

  24. Will they source the materials (fabric, notions, labels, etc.) for the product?

  25. Can they provide custom fabric designs?

  26. How much money do you need to get started?

  27. What are their expectations for you?

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