Fabric And Trim Sourcing.
(21-34-32). Lets face it – Sourcing fabrics and trims is hard work and extremely time consuming for new clothing brands. It is however, really important for the profitability of any fashion business to be able to source cost effective fabrics.
Fabrics typically account for around 70% of the total garment making price, so sourcing the right fabrics at an affordable price can make or break your business.
You can either choose to source the fabrics yourself, or leave it to experts like us to do the work for you. If you choose to do it yourself, we can still help you, with our fabric and trim sourcing workshops.
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The secret in sourcing fabrics is knowing when to compromise in order to be cost effective. An extensive knowledge of suppliers willing to deal with small orders is essential. As is knowing where where to find special bargains.
While everyone wants to good quality cheap fabrics, it is not always possible. A degree of compromise is usually needed. Sometimes it is necessary to start off with a fabric that is not the high quality you want, just to get your product to the market, and to test its viability.
Often the fabrics available at affordable prices are not exactly what you are looking for, but the price is so important that compromise may be essential. Finding an acceptable fabric at half price will massively affect your profit margins.
Always bear in mind that fabrics are priced by length, rather than width. So a more expensive, wider fabric may be cheaper than a less expensive, but narrower alternative.
It takes many hours of research trying to find the right fabric in the right quality, colour and weight and at an affordable price.
Many wholesale fabric suppliers will not deal with startups, or will not supply the small quantities sample lengths they require.
In the long search, Emails and phone calls go unanswered. You need to keep initial enquiries short and to the point.
It is vitally important to be able to find suppliers of good quality fabrics at affordable prices. You need to find out whether your potential supplier has wholesale or tiered pricing.
Textile Sourcing Agent.
It can often be worth hiring a textile sourcing agent to find your fabrics. There are several freelance agents in the UK that specialise in providing this service. Whether you are looking for an agent in the UK or China, Turkey, or elsewhere, we can help you.
Fashion Jobbers, or textile jobbers, are fabric suppliers who sell mill ends , odd lots and seconds. Jobbers sell to the general public, fashion designers and small businesses.
A swatch is a small sample of fabric that represents the fabric on offer. Not all fabric suppliers are keen to send out swatches to potential clients.
But without swatches it is difficult to judge the fabrics on offer. Some suppliers will charge for swatches, while others limit the amount they will allow you to have.
Textile fairs are a great source not only of fabrics, but inspiration for your designs. You can see and feel the fabrics up close. There are also plenty of specialist fabric fairs where you get to see many hundreds of different fabrics and colours.
The London Textile Fair takes place in July, in Islington, North London. This is a big exhibition, with over 400 exhibitors from around Europe. They have a large hall designated to fabric manufacturers.
When you do find the right fabric, you may need to re-order some time in the future. This may be because the style has proven to be very popular.
Or you may want to repeat the style in following seasons. If your fabric is no longer available, you will have to find an alternative, which may not be quite right, or may be more expensive.
Trying to find specific specialist fabrics can take a lot of research, even for the experts. We are sometimes asked to source a particular fabric, with particular qualities and in a particular colour.
It is not always possible to find the exact fabric in this instance. It may be necessary to accept a compromise solution, while continuing the search for future versions.
It can be easy to forget that fabrics come in a number of different widths. And it is the usable width (or cuttable width )that is the relevant measure.
Not all fabrics can be cut right to the selvedge. Some fabrics gave a wide area of unusable fabric at the edges. If you have already had a fabric costing, then this needs to be considered.
Ethically Sourced Suppliers.
In recent years it has become quite fashionable for clients to ask for ethically sourced fabrics. To be honest, I have no idea what this really means.
But I am happy to go along with whatever the client wants as long as they are prepared to pay for any extra expense that may be involved in the process.
The first question you need to ask a supplier when searching for fabrics is what their minimum order quantity is. Some suppliers who will be happy to supply small quantities. Remember that you will need to establish what that minimum order quantity is for each colour-way.
You need to establish the lead time for fabric delivery. Obviously if you are buying fabric within the UK, it should arrive far quicker than that purchased from China. Problems can arise if you have booked a factory to make your designs, but the fabrics or trims have not arrived.
“Perfect is the enemy of good” Voltaire
List Of Fabric And Trim Suppliers.
Any new fashion business needs to compile a list of reliable suppliers. It can take years of work and hundreds of hours of phone calls finding good quality sources, but it is well worth the effort in the long run.
Fabric And Trim Sourcing Workshop.
We at The London Pattern Cutter have decades of experience in sourcing fabrics and trims, both in the UK. and abroad.
If you prefer to do the sourcing yourself, rather than use a professional sourcing service, or a freelance we run a sourcing workshop, where we provide expert guidance, tips and advice, and provide you with a list of reliable fabric and trim suppliers.
Frankly, you are better leaving it to the experts while you use your own time doing more productive things. But if you do decide to source the fabrics yourself, we do run a very useful sourcing workshop that teaches you how to do just that.
Our fabric sourcing services are a reliable and cost-effective solution.
Sourcing For Startups.
Sourcing fabrics for fashion start-ups can be quite challenging and time consuming, so it is generally best just to leave it to the experts. Massive savings can be made with the right strategy.
In the fashion business there is a great deal of competition. Every penny off the cost is important. And every penny off the cost is extra profit for you.
When searching for fabrics it is not necessary to seek perfection from the outset. If your perfect fabric costs £20 per metre, but you can purchase a good alternative for £5 per metre, you are probably well advised to get the cheaper fabric.
Will your customer be prepared to pay the difference ? If you have a recognised brand name, then maybe.
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It is often easier for a new fashion label to design around the material that is easily available than to try to match the fabric with the design.
There are many good deals to be found on certain fabrics that can give you a great advantage over the competition simply because the fabric is so cheap. If you can find these fabrics and utilise them creatively you can be on to a winner.
The selection of the right trims can add real value to your designs. The chice of the right button or zip can boost your sales enormously. But the selection of trims goes way beyond buttons and zips. You may want to use special
Linings And Interfacing.
linings or interfacings. While the linings may count as fabric, the interlining is not even seen. If the factory provide their own interfacing, it is likely to be
Fabric Sources In London.
There are a number of well know fabric and trim sources around London that are popular with young designers. Shops such as Joel & Son, Cloth House, Borovicks, or the many other shops in Berwick street.
But while these shops have a great and varied selection of fabrics, they can be a little pricey – especially if you want to buy in bulk.
A new fashion business needs to obtain their fabrics as cheaply as possible, even if the fabrics are not exactly what they really want. If you can get fabrics at reduced prices this will make a massive difference to profits.
Sourcing In The UK.
Where possible, we try to source fabrics as locally as possible. For many fabrics is is cheaper and easier to source within the UK. This especially true where relatively small quantities are required.
Sourcing From Abroad.
Where larger quantities are needed, or a fabric that cant be found in the UK, you may need to find a supplier abroad. China has a marvellous selection of good quality fabrics at affordable prices.
While this can be an excellent option, care does need to be taken as there are many potential pitfalls.
How Much Does Fabric Sourcing Cost ?
Fabric sourcing can either be charged on an hourly basis, or a per job charge. It goes without saying that one fabric is going to take much less time to source than half a dozen.
A very specific, or specialised fabric is going to be a lot harder to source than a run of the mill fashion fabric.
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