Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Contact Us

Working with foreign clothing factories

 

Working with foreign clothing factories

For any new  UK fashion  company, using a foreign factory to  manufacture their clothing line  can be very tempting. Quality can be  good and prices may be far cheaper than UK factory prices. But I would strongly advise against  using offshore production without professional assistance or previous xperience. In fact, I would advise against any production without  professional help. Ideally I would suggest cutting your teeth with small production runs in the UK before progressing to the more challenging foreign option.

PHONE – 07905-965-305

EMAIL – thelondonpatterncutter@gmail.com

The factory

I dont really want to put anyone off using offshore production, because in a lot of cases it is by far the best option as it can give you a tremendous advantage over your competitors. It may in fact be the only way to make a profit. But you need to understand how the system works and who you need to employ within the UK in order to maximise your chances of success.

Like all factories, foreign factories will want to make everything easier for themselves rather than better for you. They want to maximise their profits while minimising their own costs. You must not allow them to dictate the process for their own benefit.

The factory pattern

Firstly, I would strongly suggest that you supply the initial pattern to them. If possible, have your own sample made in the UK first so that you  can test the shape and make any necessary changes before sending to them. This will save a lot of time and be  safer.

Most of the big UK fashion brands will have their patterns made abroad, but they are working with professional factories employing experienced people at both ends. . Even though still not as good as getting the patterns made in the UK, the savings make it worth while for them. Most foreign factories will not be using highly skilled people. you would only get an idea of their competence when you receive their first sample.

If possible, always supply an existing garment as a starting point for the pattern cutter, along with sketches and instructions if there are differences between the  supplied garment and your design. This help eliminate errors and also acts as a record if  there are any disputes. If you are not getting the patterns made in the UK, then the next best thing would be to have a UK pattern cutter or garment tech supply the measurements to the offshore factory. This relies on the factory pattern cutter having the skills to interpret  the measurements correctly. After all, Quasimodo and Marylin Monroe may share the same measurements, but it is how those measurements are applied that is important.  This is something that is understood by good pattern cutters and good tailors alike. It can be difficult to know exactly how much information to give to a factory, especially if you dont know their level of skill. Giving  them too much  could restrict them. But if you dont give them enough then the shape may turn out wrong.

The Tech pack

You really need to supply the factory with a detailed tech pack. This is your blueprint for the garment and needs to have all the relevant information on it regarding fabrics, trims, labels, print placements, stitching etc. You can take a chance and go without, in which case you would have to hope that the sample is more or less correct so that this can be your guide and the factories guide. Dont rely on a hundred “by the way”, or “just another thing” emails. The factory need solid information. This type of information just gets confusing and gets lost.

PHONE – 07905-965-305

EMAIL – thelondonpatterncutter@gmail.com

The factory sample

It is not uncommon for the first factory sample to be imperfect. This should not be a problem. You just need to rely on the pattern cutter / garment tech  to find out what needs to be corrected. The fabric may have shrunk or stretched, the measurements may have been wrong, the pattern cutter may have made an error, or the machinist may have used different seams.   The purpose of the sample is to check everything  before grading and before production.Most  styles should be correct by the second sample though.

Make sure you check the sample thoroughly as this is the best you are going to get from the factory. Measure their garment and use these measurements to supply a grading chart for the different sizes. The sample may not measure exactly as the pattern, but it is the garment measurement that counts. You need to use these measurements to check against the final production.

 

The garment technician

Garment technicians are an important part of the process. It is just possible to do this job yourself, but only if you are confident of your ability to do so. A garment technician, or clothing technician will normally come from either a pattern cutting or sample making background. Often they have done both, An experienced pattern cutter should be able to do the job perfectly well, as it is necessary to know how the pattern works and how to construct the garment. They also need to know how to measure a garment. This may seem easy, but just see what happens if you give  the same garment to several different non professionals to measure.

The factory grading

Next you need to grade the pattern, or supply the factory with measurements so that they can do the grading. This would be  significantly cheaper than doing it in the UK. I wouldnt recommend letting them grade to their own measurements, because they will want to do it the easiest way for them. And they may not have the knowledge to do it properly. Or may not understand UK sizing. If you are doing a standard grade in adults clothing, then you are reasonably safe. But if you are grading anything out of the ordinary, like childrenswear or outsize wear then you are taking more of a chance.

Factory size checks

Once the grading is done, the factory need to make samples for the different sizes. Ideally they should  do a sample in every size, but as long as they have used a uniform grade throughout, this should not be necessary. If it is absolutely essential that every size is exactly correct, then you may want to have a sample in every size. Otherwise it is fine just to check the smallest and the largest sizes.

Childrenswear may be a little different, if the grading is not uniform. I will generally use a  uniform grade throughout even for childrenswear.   Big brands with plenty of money would probably make separate patterns for different size ranges, so they would “re-block” several times for the same style. I dont think this is necessary, particularly for the smaller business with less money. Childrens sizing is not an exact science and  there is a lot of leeway. There would be little difference between a childrens garment graded uniformly throughout and one using the re-blocking method. as long as the smallest and bigger sizes are OK then all the in between sizes should be OK too. I would say that one method would not produce a superior result over the other as the sizes should still fit the same percentage of children.This means that you would not need a full range of size samples.

The factory production

If the size samples are OK then you can give the factory the go-ahead to complete the production. If you need to make some adjustments, this will probably be uniform throughout the sizes. If the changes are small, then as long as you have adjusted the measurements spec, there should be no need for further samples. If the changes are major, then you will have to have new samples made. Check that all your measurements are correct  and let the factory make the production. Once the production has been delivered it is very hard to send it back.

PHONE – 07905-965-305

EMAIL – thelondonpatterncutter@gmail.com

Freelance Pattern Cutters For London, Kent and U.K.