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My Crash Course in Apparel Manufacturing

I left the realm of early stage technology to create Heath Paine, a brand that combines the latest innovations in fabric from sportswear to classic designs (starting at the beginning with socks). Think of funky dress socks that won’t smell bad. Prior to the launch the brand, I had never spent a single day in the  apparel  manufacturing and I had never spoken to the manufacturers of apparel on a personal basis. My entire career was focused on technology development and working with developers in order to develop applications.

The process of creating Heath Paine quickly became a training course for the world of production and development. It was an excellent chance to make every mistake the author makes and to learn from it. Here are some things I wish I’d had known at the time.

1. Do your research!

Be sure to know as many details as you can about the product and process you’d like to make before making contact with manufacturers. “Learning as you go” in this phase will make it more difficult to achieve your goal and can exponentially prolong the process.

Manufacturers typically greet new customers (especially newly established companies) in a positive way, but with a amount of suspicion. They would like to check your experience. Experience and. inexperience could be the primary determinant on how they decide to collaborate with you. If they do decide to partner with you your experience and knowledge, your perceived experiences will be essential in negotiating the price.

Create credibility by conducting prior to your research, not just about the product you’re planning to create as well as the people making your product.

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Understanding the role of machines and materials

Take a few samples of clothing like the ones you’re creating to analyze the contents of materials and the structure. Finding and breaking down pieces you like will allow you to easily communicate your final product to the maker. Many manufacturers excel in their ability to reproduce or provide advice about the best direction to take based on similar examples.

Know the name of your manufacturer

Finding out the reliability, quality or credibility of the company is one of the most challenging tasks that you’ll have to tackle. A reliable, but challenging method of doing this is to determine which brands the company has worked with previously. The names of the brands won’t be readily available however, once a rapport is established and the manufacturer starts to market itself it is common for this information to be released.

Maker’s Row offers you helpful insight into vetted and highly reviewed manufacturers. Keep in mind that the fact that they don’t have reviews does not mean they’re not the perfect brand for you. Make use of it as a base, but then make a choice which is best for you.

2. Make milestones (and be sure to adhere to them)

It’s true that you’re probably working with less requirements than the typical client from your supplier. It’s best to be aware and accept that fact, and try to handle it by setting and agreeing on concrete goals and milestones with your team. This will establish a system of expectations for both parties to follow.

Furthermore, you should ensure that you have figured out the total costs of production from beginning to the end. In American manufacture, the process of prototyping is a tendency to be expensive and is not cheap of it. Be sure to think through the costs of not just materials as well as production (against smaller limits) as well as the costs of prototyping.

3. Don’t be a fool!

This could be the most crucial rule. Make sure you explain every detail of what you would like to achieve and leave no room for confusion. Then, you should explain it a few times during the course of your work. Your writing, drawings and the details should be concise and easy to understand that even a 5-year-old can know the concept.

4. Take production samples

Even if you have everything well-organized it is inevitable that things will fail. If you have production samples on hand prior to creating a whole production line, it is possible to be sure that everything is setup in the correct way. There’s no reason to skip this step , and it’s best to avoid the temptation of speed. I guarantee it.

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5. Keep 5 steps ahead

After you’ve got completed your first manufacturing cycle it is time to begin thinking about the many coming rounds. Timelines are crucial when manufacturing. Be aware of the length of your lead time and ensure that you’re on top of the curve.

Once you’ve got an understanding of your suppliers and the timeframes they use, be sure you plan out what you’d like to accomplish in the next step and when you’ll need to complete it. It’s never shorter than were expecting and deadlines are likely to slip by you.

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