How to Choose the Right Fabric Supplier for Your Production Needs

Fabric suppliers are divided into a few different categories. Mills provide made-to-offer fabrics with substantial minimums, while wholesalers, known as converters, purchase unfinished or greige goods from mills and then process them into finished products.

Jobbers carry limited stocks of fabric left over from converters and mills that they sell at reduced prices. They typically wait to restock once a material, color, or print sells out.

Price

The price of the fabric is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a supplier. It is important to remember that you get what you pay for and that it’s often worth spending more on a high-quality fabric that will look better and last longer than cheaper fabrics.

Fabric prices can vary widely, depending on the type of fabric and the supplier. It would help if you were prepared to negotiate pricing and ask about any discounts or special offers they may have available. It is also essential to understand the GSM (grams per square meter) of the fabric, as this will help you communicate with suppliers about the weight and feel of the material.

Additionally, it is crucial to consider the fabric supplier’s minimum order quantity (MOQ). If you are a new designer, you can work with other small brands to meet a fabric mill’s MOQ or offer to pay a flat dye fee instead of meeting the standard MOQ. If you need help with what to expect, you can always purchase a fabric sample from the supplier.

Capability

When choosing a clothes and fabric manufacturer, capacity should be considered. The more a fabric supplier has available, the more options you will have when sourcing your fabrics. Ensure they can produce enough material for your production needs, especially if you plan on launching your garments soon.

The best way to find out how much fabric a supplier has in stock is to ask them. Some retailers, wholesalers, & jobbers may have your material in stock. Still, most suppliers (converters, fabric sourcing agents, & factories) operate on a make-to-order basis. Hence, it’s worth checking that they can produce your desired fabric at the required quantity.

Some fabric suppliers have sizable minimum order requirements, which can be challenging for smaller brands. However, some manufacturers offer a sample service where you can use their fabric as your “bulk” order, which helps meet the minimum. Usually, it will come at a higher price, though. Always ask for production & delivery lead times to ensure they can work with your schedule.

Quality

The fabric you choose will be the backbone of your garments. Therefore, you should work with a fabric supplier who can deliver high-quality raw materials for your production needs. The best way to do this is by working directly with a mill or through a sourcing agent. Both have pros and cons, but working directly with a mill can be beneficial as you’ll get to work one-on-one with the people making your fabrics. On the other hand, many fabric mills require a minimum order quantity (MOQ), which can be difficult for emerging brands.

When choosing a fabric supplier, it’s essential to find their MOQ and what units they charge (per yard, meter, or kilo). This will help you decide on your budget and design needs. Also, ask about the manufacturer’s ethical considerations, which are essential for your brand. Asking the right questions from your potential fabric supplier can save you time and money. It can also differentiate between a failed and a successful production run.

Reputation

When choosing a fabric supplier, you should look for a company that has a reputation for reliability. This includes their commitment to sustainability, ability to meet production deadlines, and ability to work with small businesses. You should also consider the kind of companies they usually supply and how detailed their quotes are.

One of the best ways to find a wholesale fabric supplier is to attend a textile trade show, which features numerous vendors with fabrics that range from custom cotton prints to velvet and silks. Many vendors have low minimum order quantities, and some specialize in eco-friendly collections.

You can also visit fabric websites and request fabric hangers or swatches to build your library. However, make sure to note the minimum order quantity before you contact a supplier. Additionally, it would help if you avoided any supplier that asks for 100% payment upfront. This is a red flag that they are a scammer. In addition, you should check whether a fabric supplier has an extended delivery lead time. You should factor this lead time into your production schedule if they do.

Customer Service

The quality of the customer service that a fabric supplier provides is essential. They should be available when needed and responsive to questions and concerns. They should also be able to meet your supply deadlines. You want to work with a company willing to adapt and grow with your business.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to work with fabric suppliers: going directly through the mills or working with an agent. There are pros and cons to both methods. Working with a fabric sourcing agent is usually more time-efficient. However, you may not get the best price on the fabric this way because the agents are getting a cut of the sale.

When choosing a fabric supplier, consider their fabrics’ quality, availability, pricing, and ability to work with your specific size, style & clientele. The right fabric supplier can make all the difference in your production process and final product. Check out our previous blog posts for more helpful tips on finding fabric for your clothing line.

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