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The Cheapest Quote?

So you've emailed and rang around a few companies and your sole objective is to get the cheapest quote to develop your collection. But is this the right approach?

As expressed in our blog post "How Much Does A Sample Cost?" your criteria for choosing your fashion studio or manufacturer should reach beyond the quote given. You should get to know what you will be getting in terms of quality from your provider.

We cannot stress enough the importance of understanding how the sampling process works and the work that is involved in developing a garment.

We have seen that with the advent of fast fashion, garments seem as though they do not take a long time to make, but the truth is they do.

Sample Sewing Creative Fashion Services
Sample Sewing Creative Fashion Services

There may be many reasons why you may be able to buy a garment for under £20 but the following factors are probably present:

  1. They were mass manufactured with large minimum quantities (MOQ's) (we will cover this in another post.)

  2. They were made overseas where labour costs are much lower than UK

  3. The unit cost/s were lower because of the quantity ordered.

The truth is that although that garment is cheap for us to buy at the retail end, it costs a lot more to produce the total garment. For example: a garment that costs under £20 to buy still needed patterns, toiles and samples made before it went into full production.

It's also important to note that a lot of UK based fashion companies may do the pre-production in-house (and then may send the final patterns and samples overseas for production) so will have a higher labour cost.

Let's explore the following scenario:

We will say that a garment under the retail price of £20 is a sleeveless crew neck top. This top may have taken;

  • 3 hours to draft the pattern

  • 1/2 hour to cut and prepare the toile

  • 1 hour to sew toile

  • 15mins for fitting

(assuming all is good after 1st fitting)

  • 1.15 hours to finalise patterns

  • 45mins to cut and prepare the final sample fabric

  • 2 hours to sew and finish the sample

The total amount of time to create this garment sample was 8hours 45minutes. If we assume that all the workers were on the current minimum wage of £8.21, then this top that cost under £20 to buy, cost £71.83 to develop to production stage in just labour costs alone.

Not taking into account, the fabrics and trims used, branding labels, care labels and grading, you can see that to get the retail price to under £20 costs a lot more to develop.

We do have to take into account that the pre-production stage will seem to be more expensive because it is the development or (research & development) stage of making the garment. Fashion production is a time based sector, the longer something takes to produce, the more expensive it will be.

Just like a car, the retail price is much less than the development costs. Once the development stage has been completed, you are now ready for full production/manufacturing stage. (We will discuss more about full production/manufacturing process in another blog post).

The fashion industry is a hard industry to become successful in although it seems as though the barriers to entry are lower, they are in fact the same as many other industries.

Should I ring/email around to get a quote for full production?

Quoting for full production, before you have made any patterns, toile and samples is not realistic.

It's not that fashion studios/manufacturers do not want to help you with this question, its just that without going through the sampling process (patterns, toiling and sampling) it's too difficult to know.

It's understandable that you are trying to ascertain how much you need for the manufacturing process, but asking a manufacturer to look at your rough sketch, with no idea of fabrics, trims, finishings you will be using - it's too hard to say, and dare we say can seem a little unprofessional.

Caroline Beyll Dress Made By Creative Fashion Services
Caroline Beyll Dress Made By Creative Fashion Services

It's a fashion business

You are running a fashion business and so you need to understand the business first. (We will write a blog post about this.) You need to ask yourself the questions about who your market is? Where you would like to sit in the market? How much do you intend to retail your garments for? Once you understand this, you will have a much better idea as to how much you have for production - probably before you contact your prospective fashion provider.

Most sample studios and manufacturers are small businesses

Because most fashion providers are running small businesses, asking for quotes for multiple designs can be very time consuming. Although they do want to help as much as they can, it makes their job a little difficult to help you, if you just send through a lot of designs, without doing some of the preliminary ground work.

Here are some of things we think you should have prepared or know before you contact your prospective fashion provider:

  • Your designs, it can be a sketch, we do not believe that you have to have technical drawings straight away, but it must translate all of the details that you are trying to convey. Look at a sketch as a form of communication, it needs to tell your viewer what it is.

  • Your designs must have the front and back view

  • You should know whether your garment has a lot of stretch, has no stretch, or contains stretch. Even if you are not too sure exactly what final fabric you will be using, you do need to know this.

  • Understand that the difference between the pre-production/development process and the full production/manufacturing process. (The development process may seem more expensive than the production process, because they are two different processes. We will write a post about this).

  • Have a realistic view of how long things will take. To make a collection of 6pcs in two weeks or less may be almost impossible.

Above are a few points that if you bear them in mind should help you get to where you desire more quickly.

Creative Fashion Services
Example of front and back drawing

Please feel free to comment below, let us know your experience.

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Yes, I understand all of this but you have to also see it from the otber perspective, that of tbe designer just starting out. I am at present trying to set up a small fashion brand but am currently constrained by time and money. I need quotes from the manufacturers to get my loan in place but the manufacturers are being cagy as they don't know me etc. I have no money until this loan is in place but Im supposed to pay for consultations or travel to factories and have tech packs already done.I have to make a choice about which factory to go with for tbe purposes of this loan yet Im not certain as the factories ar…

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