Sportswear Lead Times - from Start to Finish

Sportswear Lead Times - from Start to Finish

The time it takes to launch a product from the initial conversation through to shipped production varies on where it is produced and how complex the garments are. Below is a typical timeline and a brief explanation of the processes involved and the time taken to complete each stage. 

Please note that this timeline is to create a bespoke product for your brand, and should not be mistaken for off the shelf white-label goods that are produced using basic stock fabrics with your logo applied. Read here why we don’t do this. 

Read here why you shouldn’t rush to launch your sportswear brand”.

Please note COVID-19 has had a huge effect on current lead times on samples, fabrics and production and therefore some factories, fabric mills and trim suppliers have extended their normal lead times as a result.

Sportswear Lead Times
Step 1

Brief & Quote


We need to talk. We need to talk a lot. We need to know what you want to achieve by launching your brand, why you are doing this, what’s your USP, your inspiration, the end goal, ambitions, target customer, business set up, financials and of course, some details about the products. 

Step 2

Logo & Branding

You may already have your brand name and logo and if so, we can apply this to the clothing, however, many of our entrepreneurs don’t have this. We can create the brand name and logo for you and guide you through the trademarking process to protect your brand.
Step 3
Range Design
You are full of ideas and know exactly what you want. Alternatively, you have a rough idea or a unique concept but are not sure how to design this. No problem, we have been designing sportswear since 1997 for over 250 brands, so have plenty of experience and can work with you to make your vision a reality.
Step 4
Tech Packs
Tech packs are basically architects’ drawings to instruct the factory on how to produce the garment and where to purchase specific fabrics and components from. These tech packs will include detailed size specifications and artworks for all trims, prints and appliques. A separate tech pack will be created for the branded trims that will be developed with our nominated trim supplier, in order to protect the quality and supply of the branded items.
Step 5

1st Prototype Production

This can take around 6-8 weeks if we produce these in China and up to 2-4 months in Europe. The 1st prototype always takes this long as the factory starts from scratch and needs to cut patterns based on our designs and tech pack. They also need to order the specific fabrics and trims from our nominated suppliers, before stitching the garments to our requirements.
Step 6

Fitting & Critique

As soon as we receive the prototypes, we review them and make sure they measure to the specification. We look at the construction and critique each sample, listing the improvements that the factory needs to make on the next samples. We then fit the samples on a perfect medium fitting model to make sure the fit is consistent across the range and there are no issues with movement.
Step 7

2nd Prototype Production

This takes slightly less time than the time taken to produce the 1st prototype as the factory already has a pattern to work from, they may also have surplus fabrics and trims ordered from the nominated suppliers during the first round. Production of the 2nd samples usually takes 4-6 weeks from China and up to 2 months in Europe. Again, this depends on the factory and the garment.
Step 8

Fitting & Critique

We repeat the process of fitting and measuring the 2nd Prototype, and check that all of the construction improvements have been made. We carry out a final inspection of the construction and pass on our concluding comments to the factory, they will then adjust the patterns and update the technical specification.
Step 9

Final Quotation

Once the factory has received the final comments and any size changes, they will calculate the fabric and trim consumption, along with the time it takes to produce the garment, before confirming the final bulk production costs. Production costs vary depending on location, wages, fabrics, trims and components, quantity and volume. Factories, mills, trim and component suppliers all have a minimum order quantity (MOQ) they work to that determines their normal cost of production. If you order under the normal MOQ, then all of these suppliers will add a surcharge that will get passed onto you. This will result in you working to smaller margins than say “Nike”, but it will allow you to launch and still make enough margin to grow. Once you gain enough traction and your orders increase, you can match the margin of the big established brands.
Step 10


Bulk production lead times vary dramatically, with several factors determining the overall lead time. The first factor is how long it will take for the nominated fabric mill to produce the fabrics. Because we produce performance sportswear, many fabric mills don’t hold stock as there are so many different levels of performance they can produce by adding finishes and treatments. Fabric production could take up to 12-16 weeks to produce it to your specific performance and colour requirements. These fabrics then need to be shipped to the factory who will quality check them before they are cut.

Production lead times then vary depending on how complex the garments are, how big the factory is, and the volume produced. It can be as fast as a couple of weeks or as long as 8-10 weeks.

Prior to the bulk production getting underway, we receive from the factory a final “Pre-Production” sample to check and approve before they commence bulk production and size sets, which are measured to make sure the pattern grade is correct so an XS or XXL will actually fit.

Once production has finished, you will have a choice of how you want to ship the goods, by sea, plane, courier or truck depending on the location of the factory and the required shipping address.

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