Vietnam – a benefactor of the US-China trade war

As the trade war between the US and China shows no signs of reaching a solution, US brands producing in China, such as Victoria Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch and GAP,  have been seeing their shares drop by up to 5% due to their high reliance on Chinese manufacturing. The expected 25% tariff on all fashion garments imported to the US from China will be passed on directly to the consumer which means a direct rise in retail price on any goods produced in China. Brands who have not diversified their production yet face now the challenge of finding production partners in neighbouring countries.

Credit: readtoolead.com

Credit: readtoolead.com

The average retail price of clothing manufactured in China was US$25.7 per unit back in the second quarter of 2018, only slightly higher than clothing from Vietnam. A year later, China’s cost more than doubled to US$69.5 per unit.  The South China Morning Post cited a report that shows that China’s stranglehold on the garment supply chain continues, despite its price advantage being eroded rapidly.  Why is this and is it true? From a perspective from inside Vietnam we can tell you that the factories are flooded with inquiries, many from Chinese factories moving their production to Vietnam.  Why are the brands themselves not looking at Vietnam directly? These, are the late comers, rushing here now. They should have been doing this already – prices rising in China, trade tariffs or not, was expected.  Just like the neighbouring countries have been expecting a rise in production in all sectors as China loses it´s competitive edge.

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But what can Vietnam produce in terms of garments?  I have repeatedly read that low cost production such as teeshirts and polos is ideally placed in Vietnam, Bangladesh or Cambodia. While the Walmarts and Targets of the world do find in Vietnam an alternative solution with production at competitive prices in the tens or hundreds of thousands, Vietnam´s factories also produce quality, price competitive products in the lower volumes from 500 units.  I know because that´s the niche we ourselves operate in, that and even lower volumes… Vietnam is also very capable in the higher end garments, from just 100 units per style, designs that reach London and Paris and New York fashion week.  An example of styles can be seen here:  https://www.sourcestudio.co/gallery-main

Pattern - first shapes to come from tech pack

The pattern making process is the first step after receiving and reviewing tech packs. The first patterns are made on paper to create the first sample.  We sample directly in the correct fabric, meaning our first sample is usually also the salesman sample. Why do we do this? Because in the 8 years we have been making contemporary styles for our clients, some of which are very unusual shapes and constructions since as a large portion of our clients present at Fashion Week and are highly innovative to say the least, we have learnt to clearly interpret designs and make correct patterns first time round. Changes are usually minor and are spotted when we send the first images of the completed samples to the designer. In this way, we save time as well as resources in sending a toile back and forth.

Pattern making process

We have 3 in-house pattern makers with extensive experience in western designs and contemporary styles – our sampling capabilities are certainly to western standards and often to better due to the variety of types of designs we are used to working on, ranging from innovative streetwear styles to high fashion elegance, each new designer constantly pushing us to improve more and more. 

Pattern making process 2

Both our pattern makers and seamstresses love challenges and excitedly, and sometimes even laughing, looking in amazement at some of the new designs that come through.  We make sure to ask our clients to send us images of the catwalk shows to show the team how the final look turned out!

Why is our preferred way of communication a tech pack?   

We are often asked if we can create patterns from sketches, and the answer is yes, we can, if the sketches are clear, if the basic measurements are indicated and if the designer is available to be on a call with us to talk through the sketch.  However, it leaves room for mistakes.   It leaves room for interpretation and guess work. Let´s say it´s a bomber jacket – how tightly did you want the waistband to sit? On the hips or below the hips? Let´s say it´s an A-line skirt, how wide is the A? Should it be stiff or allow for folds? Allowing room for guesswork or interpretation is always going to allow for more risks.
 
 A tech pack pulls together all the information about your garment in one place, with visual representation. A good tech pack will include digitized sketches, a full set of measurements including the width and length of that bomber waistband and will tell us how tightly it will hug the hips and whether it is actually sitting on, below, or above the hips, it will detail all the trims, the stitch types and any other information relevant to the garment.  The tech pack is almost like a contract between the designer and the sampling team, it is the common reference point – if it was in the tech pack, then that is what should have been created. If it was not in the tech pack, then it is the designer´s mistake.  It is really that simple.
 
Now of course, if we notice that something is missing, or notice that a measurement looks off, we will ask for clarification, albeit, this will cause delays and a back and forth of emails.  The more severe situation is if something simply was not indicated. Let´s say a tech packs indicates the bomber to have flap pockets, but the designer later changed his mind – once the sample is created with flap pockets this cannot be altered as the full body of the jacket is affected. And there would be a significant delay in the sample if it has to be remade as the fabric must be re-ordered and the cutting and sewing done again.
 
What should a tech pack include?  Unfortunately there is no set standard for a tech pack but the below is a good guide:
 
1) Flat Sketch

A Flat sketch of the front and back. The sketch should be in black and white and drawn to scale as best as possible.

Flat Sketch


2) Measurements

All the measurements for your sample size, ideally indicated on the flat sketch so we agree on where the measurements are taken from – this is called point of measurement.  We do not need all the measurements for all your sizes at this stage, this is requested pre-production when it is time to grade your pattern.

Measurements


3) Written or Visual Description

 Add here any details about the garment that may not be 100% clear from the flat sketch, perhaps you include here magnified views of certain details. Describe in components like collars, plackets, cuffs, fastenings, bar tacks or artwork placement.

Written or Visual Description


5) Bill of Materials. 

This is essentially a list of what is needed to put the garment together and includes everything from fabric and trims details and through to labels, hang tags and the packaging


6) List of Stitches and Seams. 

If you have any specific stitch or seam requirements then list them here. Illustrate or just write the descriptions of joining operations. Include details like stitches per inch, width of seams, seam allowances etc.

List of Stitches and Seams


8) Branding Artwork. 

This is your brand labels, care labels and hang tags – each will require a complete set of artwork.

What different types of shirts are there? (Part 2)

The shirt is without a doubt the most versatile article of dress. People wear shirts in different 

social settings and the demand for them is always high. This season, Source Studio launched 

a new service focusing in high quality formal & casual shirt production from MOQ of 

50 units/ style/ colour up to 2,000 units per style and colour for small and mid sized brands.

We provide a fully factored service from fabric and trims sourcing and through to sampling

 and production, quality control & shipping.  Let’s go on a journey with Source Studio to

 discover top 10 most popular shirts in everybody’s wardrobe.

6. Flannel Shirt

 As plaid flannel shirts are so popular, many people mistake flannel for plaid. The truth is,

 flannel refers to the fabric and weave of a shirt, where as plaid refers to the pattern. 

Originally, flannel was made from carded wool or worsted yarn, but nowadays people often

 make it from  wool, cotton or synthetic fiber.

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7&8. Chambray vs denim shirt

Though both Chambray and denim are made of cotton, the fabrics have different construction.

 Single strands of coloured and white thread are woven together (plain weave) to create 

chambray while in denim, double strands of threads are woven into a diagonal pattern

 (twill weave). An easy way to distinguish them is that you can see a lighter color to the 

underside of a denim fabric, whereas both sides of chambray have quite similar colours.

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9. Classic Short Sleeve Shirt

Well known for its versatility, the classic short sleeve shirt is a must item for summer time.

 They diverse in styles, printing and colours and are usually worn without tucking in.

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10. Linen 

Linen fabric is made from the fibers of the flax plant. It was worn by high social class in ancient

 Egypt. Compared to cotton fabric, linen is 30% stronger, more lightweight and breathable.

 That’s the reason why  it is perfect for hot and humid climates.

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What different types of shirts are there? (Part 1)

The shirt is without a doubt the most versatile article of dress. People wear shirts in different 

social settings, and the demand for them is always high. This season, Source Studio launched a

 new service focusing in high quality formal & casual shirt production from MOQ of

 50 units/ style/ colour up to 2,000 units per style and colour for small and mid sized brands.

 We provide a fully factored service from fabric and trims sourcing and through to sampling

 and production, quality control & shipping.  Let’s go on a journey with Source Studio to

 discover top 10 most popular shirts in everybody’s wardrobe.

1. Dress shirt

If you’re looking for a shirt for formal evening wear, the dress shirt is the perfect choice.  It is 

a button-up shirt with a collar, long sleeves and wrist cuffs, usually worn with a black or white

 tie. Common fabrics used to make dress shirts is woven and dyed cotton.

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2. Oxford button-down shirt

This kind of shirt is named after the Oxford cloth from which it’s made. In this specific kind of 

fabric, instead of being woven individually like in plain canvas, yarns are woven in strands. It’s 

also thicker than other shirting fabrics. 

Oxford shirts usually have a button down collar and hanger loop to the back of the yoke.

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3. Office Shirt

The name explains itself. Common textures are twills, oxfords and herringbones.

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4. Cuban Collar Short Sleeve Shirt

Originally, Cuban collar shirt were used as uniform for working-class men in 18th century

 South America. Nowadays, it is widely used everywhere in the world. A Cuban collar shirt

 typically has an open collar, short sleeves, and a straight, boxy hem. 

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5. Overshirt

An overshirt serves both as a regular shirt and a light jacket. They share the same traits as a 

shirt such as collars, button or zip but are normally made from heavier materials like cotton 

or wool. They are great items for autumn and winter.

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Do you know the story behind little rivets on your jeans?

While industry experts surely know the answer, we find that non denim experts do not and find this bit of information rather interesting.

This season jeans are coming back and there doesn´t seem to be any end in sight. Certainly jeans is a garment of which we all have at least one pair in our closet. But have you ever noticed little silver or copper studs all over your jeans and wonder why they are there?

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These are rivets, which are round mental attachments that are especially placed on areas of the jeans that are most likely to be pulled apart by strain or movement and they help hold the fabric together, therefore making them last longer.

These little pieces play an important role in the development of jeans as we see them today. Although denim trousers had been used for many years previously due to the strength of the denim, it was the creation of rivets that led to them becoming a workman´s jeans which then years later became a fashion item.  

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Here is the story of the evolution of your jeans.

In the 1870s, denim was commonly worn by labour workers, but despite the strong denim weave, they were still not resisting strains they were put under during hard labour, namely ripping at the seams. As a result, a miner’s wife in the Reno area, tired of sewing her busband´s trousers together, took them to Jacob Davis, a tailor, and asked if he could fix this problem. Mr Davis came up with the idea of putting rivets on the areas that endured the most strain, such as pocket corners and the base of the fly. The rivets helped hold the fabric together, and meant the trousers were less likely to tear.

In 1873, Davis set up a partnership with Levi Strauss, who he usually purchased the denim fabric from. Together they acquired a patent for “improvement in fastening pocket-openings.” Levi Strauss was the first company to manufacture riveted pants in the 1800s.

After that, bar tacks — “a necessary anchor placed at the top and bottom of a belt loop” — and zippers are other essential elements that have been added to jeans over time.

 

Reference:

http://www.businessinsider.com/tiny-buttons-rivets-jeans-2016-11

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/those-tiny-bits-of-metal-on-your-jeans-pockets-are-actually-really-important-a6998821.html

 http://www.historyofjeans.com/

https://www.self.com/story/purpose-of-tiny-buttons-on-jeans-rivets

YOUR FULLY-FACTORED FASHION PRODUCTION SERVICE

As a fashion designer, we understand that you have a myriad of things to manage: from coming up with ideas, developing you designs, financing, sourcing fabrics and trims, finding a suitable clothes manufacturer to work with, controlling quality, arranging labeling and packaging, shipping, advertising, marketing and social media and of course, the all important part of selling your collection.

When you work with a reliable partner a lot of these headaches are managed externally, leaving you to focus on building your business. We take care of the development and production side of things for emerging brands and designers.

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At Source Studio we are proud to offer our clients an all-in-one service or fully factored clothing manufacturing service.  We will bring your ideas, your designs, to life - from the sourcing of fabric and trims through to first samples, grading, production, labeling, packaging and shipping.  This is a service larger companies usually benefit from, but the smaller brands and independent designers, who usually have the least time and resources, are usually unable to access these resources.

1. Sourcing of fabrics and trims

Clients often come to us stating that the one of the most time consuming areas is sourcing the right fabrics.

At Source Studio, in order to offer a fully factored service, we solve that problem. Clients send us swatches of their desired fabrics which our team then counter sources and imports from China, one of the largest textile markets in the world. We work with a broad selection of fabrics - wovens and knits, naturals and synthetics. This is a valued added service we offer all our clients as standard.

2  Sampling

 Based on your tech packs, our team of highly experienced pattern makers and seamstresses bring your designs to life.  After we collect all the information and are ready to start sewing, a meeting or skype call will be arranged with our native English speaking expert to make sure we understand all your ideas correctly.

Our team of pattern makers and seamstresses will then convert your designs into first samples for your approval. Any changes required are then made before we move into grading of patterns.

 

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3Production

All our factories are Vietnam based, specifically in Saigon. We work with low volumes from 30 units per style and colour (we also manage high volume production).  We know that at the early stage of your business, small quantity clothing manufacturing is essential in order not to be left with stocks at the end of the season and we are proud to be able assist emerging designers in this. Low volume production and the associated cost benefits is not usually available in Asia, nor is a fully factored service. At Source Studio we have set up a network of partner factories and workshops who accept low volume orders via us, thereby allowing our designers to benefit from the advantages of producing in Vietnam.

4Quality control

Quality control is a very important factor to consider in clothes manufacturing and many brands struggle to find the right partners.  Fashion brands are especially concerned about product quality when they produce clothing abroad as it is very difficult to control from afar.  Working in middle to higher end sector and with our production being sold in some of the worlds most renowned shops and department stores, high quality is of special concern to our brands and therefore to us. Each piece passes through 2 levels of quality control to ensure our designer´s standards are always met, season through season.

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5Lead times

Emerging or niche brands usually have lower volume orders of under 250 units per style.  This is a very low volume for most factories and these clients are often pushed to the back of the queue when larger orders are received. This causes late deliveries and penalties to the emerging brand as well as a poor, often first impression to their retailer clients. At Source Studio we commit to the delivery dates given. We understand that our commitment to you is your commitment to your client

Fabric Fair again! 20-23rd March. MOQ 20 units, fully factored service

Looking for fabrics for the upcoming season?

Showcasing over 10.000 fabrics for sampling & production

20th - 23rd of March 9am – 6pm (2pm on the Friday)

Select from sustainable fabrics like tencels and rayons, cottons and silks, to ribs, jacquards, embroideries and laces, corduroys, linens, nylons, meshes and a BIG etc.

Reminding you that we produce also denim styles. We now have an even broader selection of types of denims available as well as effects.

We invite you to visit us and collect your swatches – see attached invite for further details.

Source Studio is a fully factored service with no MOQ (well, 20 units per style/colour)

As a part of our fully factored service, Source Studio sources fabric on the designer´s behalf. Please note we do not offer this as a stand-alone service. Whilst our MOQ is 20 units per style/colour the fabric displayed comes in full rolls of 80-120m.

Source Studio is a British managed company with sampling and production services in Saigon, Vietnam.

 Click here to see who is really making your clothes.

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Vietnam officially lost the U23s Asean Cup - but they won it anyway!

Here is a post with a bit of a difference – we are not football fans nor do we have any interest in promoting it – but we are in Vietnam, our team are almost all Vietnamese and we feel very proud this week of Vietnamese attitude and unity – characteristics we see also every day in our work lives. Vietnam is a friendly, happy and hard working country.

It may not have been a perfectly happy ending for Vietnam football team when they lost out on a snow filled pitch (most of the players will not have seen snow before, nevermind played in it) in the final minute of the final against Uzbekistan for under 23s, a level nobody in Vietnam felt they would be able to reach. Hence it didn’t matter much that they didn´t win. The main prize had already been won- the heart of millions Vietnamese.

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The country was so proud of their team regardless that the party went right ahead anyway with streets flooded with excited supporters incredulous that their team made it so far.  The huge crowds of fans were bursting with national pride as they streamed home, some still chanting "Vietnam the champion!". Grandparents and babies, rich and poor – everyone was out celebrating.

Image source: Internet

Image source: Internet

Image source: Internet

Image source: Internet

The streets were flooded with a sea of red and gold as flag-waving fans, many also wearing red headbands that said "Vietnam Wins". Strangers hugged and shook hands sharing unlimited joy.

Image source: Internet

Image source: Internet

A week before the final match, people talked and discussed excitedly about football everywhere in schools, markets, restaurants and buses. Some of them had never had any interest in the game before.

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On the final day, everybody gathered together in coffee shops, public squares and stadiums watching the game. Cinemas were screening for free. Companies were sending employees home early. Even patients in hospitals put aside their sickness and suffering, enjoyed the match.

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The past weeks have been a fantastic journey for the players and the country. It is not just a game any more, it unites the whole country and brings people closer together.

Well done Vietnam!  And not just the team, well done the people of Vietnam for their positive attitude and unity as a country!