Designing a Product – Processes – Manufacturing Phase #5

Designing a Product – Processes – Manufacturing Phase #5

Choosing the right supplier

It is really important when you are looking for a supplier that you choose the correct one. Recommendations are the best way and if you are not sure then work with someone who can help you find the right supplier. It is always advised that you also do your own investigation/ due diligence and find out as much information as you can. Ask for any certification that they have, ethical practises and sustainability. You can also ask to take a tour of the factory to see the set up and to make sure there is nothing underhand going on.

Once you have your tech packs it’s worth sending them off to more than one supplier to see the variation in costings. Quite often you will receive quite a difference in pricing from different factories. It’s important to check what is included in the cost as you don’t want to be hit with any additional costs you weren’t expecting further down the line. For example, some factories will include the price for branding your zip pull in the original price, some will charge you for the mould later down the line or will add sur charge for smaller quantities.

Other key points are:

  • Make sure communication is clear from both sides, there should always be an agreement in place
  • Make sure you are both clear on lead times and sampling times
  • Will suppliers arrange shipping for you? How much does this cost? Also if you are using overseas suppliers, are they paying for the couriers to send samples or do you need to factor this in to your price also

If you are using suppliers overseas then you will need to be VAT registered and have an EORI number. You will also need the EORI code for Europe from January 2021 You will be charged VAT at customs from Europe (changes will occur from Jan 2021) and for countries outside the EU there will be duty also. Always remember to factor this in when working out your budget. If you are not VAT registered then you won’t be able to claim this back.

Manufacturing overseas

When manufacturing overseas you will usually be given a fully factored price which includes everything from fabrics, thread to swing ticket, labels and packaging. The terms of the payment is generally a % upfront when the order is placed and the remainder due before shipment. Most payment terms are FOB (freight on board) which means you need to have insurance to cover the goods once they are onboard and for the onward journey.

It is always worthwhile getting a sample before you place an order so you can see the workmanship and quality of the garments they produce. Most suppliers will charge for this but it is often credited back once an order is placed. These samples usually take around 2-3 weeks to produce, so this will need to be included in your timeline. If you are happy with the sample and proceed to placing an order, you will then receive pre production samples. These samples should be in the exact fabric and make up that is required for production. The samples need to be 100% correct before proceeding to full production. This garment will be the reference point for any issues that may arise, so must be perfect! Before you receive the pre production samples you will receive lap dips, fabrics and any labels or tags for approval. You can also use these samples for photoshoots, PR, website content etc.

Once production is finished either visit the factory yourself or arrange to see shipment samples before you agree to make the final payment. Once you’ve made the payment and the product has been shipped it is very difficult to send back to the supplier if there are any issues.

Manufacturing in the UK

Most manufacturers in the UK operate of a CMT basis, which is Cut, Make and Trim although this is slowly changing so that suppliers can offer a fully factored service. If you are working in the UK then you will most probably need to supply all the material including threads, fabric, patterns, buttons and labels. Some suppliers do have their own pattern cutters and will give you a cost for the very first patterns and samples

Points to remember:

  • Make sure you work closely with the pattern cutters and sample machinists to make sure you get what you are looking for
  • Tour the factory beforehand to see if what they make is similar to what you are looking to. If a supplier mainly has denim in the showroom and you are looking for ladies dresses then this probably isn’t the supplier fo you
  • Make sure you are realistic about what the factory can achieve in terms of technology and manpower
  • Make sure you factor in all the costs, including, shipping, packaging

The benefits of working with a UK supplier is you can work with smaller quantities and also can have a more hands on role with visiting the factory and overseeing the process If you want to discuss any of the above then please get in touch:

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