How to source fabric for a fashion brand
An essential first step for any fashion brand is sourcing the right fabric, with many elements to consider, below are some tips on how to streamline the process and make the best choice.
With so many fabric options available, it's important to have an idea of what to look out for.
Research fabric suppliers: Start researching fabric suppliers and wholesalers that offer the types of fabrics you need. You can search online or attend trade shows and fabric fairs to find potential suppliers. Discovering a sea of fabric can be overwhelming to say the least, so have an idea of what you're looking for by noting some key points about your product. This could include images, hand-feel (smooth, drapes well, mid-weight) composition if known (100% cotton/ polyester/ nylon for example).
Request fabric samples: absolutely essential, especially if you're sourcing online, the hand feel can be completely different to what is described or pictured. Any good fabric supplier will attach their details to each one for ease of referencing. Included should be: the wholesalers address, contact details, fabric code, weight, width, colours available or if it can be dyed to match (DTM) a pantone. As a bonus, it's a good idea to find out how much of the fabric is available (stock) or if there is a minimum order quantity (MOQ). Those trousers may need to become shorts if no one asked the question!
Evaluate costs: As your biggest cheerleader I want you to make a profit. The 100% silk £50p/m is divine, but chances are it will work out too expensive once shipping and production costs are factored in.
Establish a relationship with your supplier: maintain good communication for a consistent and reliable supply of fabrics, it's also a good idea to stay up to date with new fabric developments with suppliers you like to get ahead of competitors.
Consider sustainability: Research recycled and dead-stock fabric options and attract environmentally conscious consumers. Amothreads have aced this with clear meterage labels (how much is left) and fabric compositions that show the details needed to decide on the right fabric for your brand.
Test the fabric: is it fit for purpose? Once the pattern for your garment is finalised, seeing a production sample in the chosen fabric brings your vision to life!
More and more, suppliers will have a catalog of fabric on their website, with pictures, video of the hand-feel, sew-along guides and products customers have made using the same fabric, minerva.com does this really well! With this, it's still advisable to request a swatch before purchasing any large quantities.
Key Questions to ask a fabric supplier
What's the MOQ?
Do you have a colour card?
What's the lead time?
What's the fabric width? (total and cuttable)
What's the country of origin? (needed for the care label), this may also affect costs if you're importing fabric from overseas.
Any questions about consulting or how we can working together - get in touch