Production abroad or at home?

Finding the right manufacturing partner for your business is essential and can mean the difference between success or failure.

Designer Showrooms BFC London

Designer Showrooms BFC London

When you start a creative business, one of the last things on your mind is logistics. Your head is too full of colours, designs, mood boards and ideas to spare much room for the less exciting stuff. But, as everyone knows deep down, the boring bits are what keeps a business thriving. And when it comes to clothes, nailing your production process might not be the most glamorous task, but it’s certainly the most vital.

Here at Source Studio we produce everything in Vietnam. However, this is not the best solution for all designers. If you are in the very early stages, say seasons 1-3, your volumes are likely low. You probably do not have much experience yet in managing production, or the sampling process and you probably cannot buy full rolls of fabric and are relying on retailers locally to supply you. 

At this stage it makes sense to produce close to home. Any price advantage you would have from producing abroad is likely eroded by time consumed in learning to work with a new supplier abroad. Plus, if you only really need 80m of fabric but are having to buy 120m, even if the fabric is cheaper and the production is cheaper, the fabric wastage probably means that you did not actually make any savings and hence your RRP is unaffected.

However, if you are producing already 30+ units per style, perhaps you are using one fabric for 2 pieces, let’s say a skirt and a blouse, then you are likely using your 120m of fabric. And in this case it is time to compare costs. Would you benefit from moving your production at this stage? You should be looking for a saving of 20-30%. And that can make a big difference on your market positioning, or your margin!

Source Studio Sampling & Production

The factors to consider are:

Would lower prices to my customers help grow my business?

Would I benefit from more fabric variety being available to me?

Can my quality of construction improve?

Can my delivery times be improved?

Often the answers to the above are yes. In the west we are no longer experts in clothes manufacturing and most larger brands will produce abroad for all of the above reasons. However, production abroad has traditionally been limited to companies able to produce over 500 units of each style.

At Source Studio we have spent the last 6 years working with factories in Vietnam to create a network of high quality suppliers who are happy to work with low volumes. Why? Because we represent many designers at the same time and therefore negotiate with our partner factories. It is easier for them to work via Source Studio because we have been doing so together for years, they know that we prep designers so that the process is as simplified as possible, we source the fabric and trims and we help make sure each product is in perfect condition. It is a win-win for the designer who benefits from the lower prices and higher quality and for the factory who can take on more orders, without the “headaches” of teaching a designer how to work with them, how to present information and stick to necessary timeframes in the production process.

We usually work with designers producing volumes of 30-200 units per style. Have a look at our website Source Studio or send us an email to know more about our services, processes and timeframes and how it can help your business.