What’s The Best Option For Fashion Startups To Produce Their Designs?

by | Jan 29, 2018

Do you do it yourself at first or do you need little helpers? And what type of little helpers, from friends to seamstresses or manufactures

This is an important question for any fashion startup because each solution involves different timing and costs.

As you can guess, the best option is the one not making you waste time and money according to the situation of your business.

So let’s review them all and find out what would be the best for you.

Friends

It’s famously known that Bill Gates and his friends started in a garage. See where they are now.

You can start your fashion startup on your name with a few friends who can help you occasionally with the skills you don’t have, and you can reward them with fashion pieces at first when you don’t make any money yet, and you can pay them as contractors later when the business kicks in.

Or you can start as a team, and everyone is working without being paid as long as the business doesn’t make any money.

Many startups are still starting that way today, just like in the past.

This solution involves little time and no money. You can be very reactive according to the number of orders.

The downside is that it is not sustainable if your business grows fast.

Seamstresses

When your sales grow, even just a little, you will likely not be able to produce fast enough yourself because you run a fashion startup and you need to work on many other areas than the production.

This is when external contractors are required, and the good news is that if you need them, it means that you are making business and money and that you can pay them.

There are seamstresses everywhere in the world. Many do that as a main job or a side job to fit their family life. You can definitely find the right person(s) in your city.

This is a good option for a small to medium size company. Zara started like that with one store and a few seamstresses.

This solution involves little time and little money. You can be very reactive too according to the number of orders, and it can be sustainable for a while.

The downside is that when your startup becomes a company, the volume of orders may be too big for seamstresses and coordinating the work between them may be time-consuming also.

Factories

The fashion industry uses factories to produce the greatest majority of fashion designs as factories can deal with big volumes.

Unfortunately, this solution presents a few downsides for a fashion startup.

  • You will need to face the fact that factories do favor the clients with the most significant orders, which cannot be the case of your starting business. So, be prepared that your work will be done last.
  • You will not be able to master the timing as a consequence of complying with the factory’s schedule. So, be prepared to not appear very reactive to your customers.
  • You will need to break the back of the work to be done much more than for a seamstress because you will not talk directly to the person producing your fashion designs. So be prepared to deal with a manager as an intermediate, and if you want to avoid many mistakes, your instructions should be crystal clear.
  • You will need to sign a manufacturing contract with a structure much more significant than yours, and that may not give the necessary flexibility to a new and small fashion business like yours. So, be prepared to follow rules you will not like.
  • You will have to decide if you contract a factory in countries where labor is much cheaper or in your country where labor may be much more expensive. On one side, production may cost you less, but if it is made far away from you, you will have to spend additional money in traveling there to monitor and fix problems on site, or run the risk that your production is not well made or not made on time. On the other side, manufacturing may cost you more, but if it is made close to you, it’s faster, easier and cheaper to go there and fix any problem. So, either way, be prepared to spend a lot of time and money before you get your products made.
The bottom line?

Factories are not a wrong solution in principle, but they are not a fast, easy and cheap solution. This is why they are just not the right one for aspiring fashion designers ready to start their own label.

Starting small and cheap, with what you have quickly and readily available to you, is the right way to start when you are new to the fashion business.

Using the “DIY” technique as much as possible is never wrong. You don’t need a lot of products anyway to start selling, so why getting involved too soon with sourcing factories around the world and manufacturing contracts.

“Too soon” means when you don’t even know if your fashion designs can sell. This would only lead you to deal with more problems and would reduce your time dedicated to designing new and better fashion products for your customers.

So, how do you plan to have your fashion designs produced? Please share with us!

This article is about the 4th step of our essential guide for aspiring fashion designers called: 10 Steps To Success – How to start and grow your fashion business. If you would like to know the 10 steps to make it in the fashion business, you can download that guide for free here.
(Photos from Unsplash: LAIS, Kirs Atomic, Janko Ferlič).

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