Building an apparel brand follows a similar process to building a house. If the foundations are solid and you focus on quality, then you’re in a good place.
Many entrepreneurs approach building a brand completely wrong. They focus purely on finding a factory that can turn their dreams into reality. In principle, that’s like finding a builder and asking them to build your house without detailed drawings and specifications.
When you build a house, you obviously engage an architect where you discuss your likes, dislikes, style and crucially budget. The architect will then produce a design that fits the budget and answers your requirements and once you approve the design, they then create detailed specifications, advising not only how to build it, but where all the materials, windows, doors, tiles etc are sourced from.
By creating this detailed specification, you then dictate the quality of the components and providing the builder is focussed on quality too, you end up with a house that will last the test of time.
Building a brand is no different. Before you start to look for a suitable factory (Builder) you need to create the designs that answer your brief. The designs need to cater for your target consumer, have the features they expect and perform to the athlete’s requirements. The design also needs to consider the target cost so the design come in on budget.
Once the design is approved, the specification needs to be created and the designer will select the fabrics, trims and components based on cost, quality, and performance. This way, when the designs and tech packs are passed to the factory (builder), you are guaranteeing a level of quality and performance that matches your brief and brand values.
99% of factories are builders. They don’t have qualified designers and you should never let the factory dictate where the components and fabrics are sourced from. If you do this, you have no control on quality or performance and the chances are, the factory will source them from whoever is cheapest or offer them great terms.
Most factories realise they need to be competitive and if you ever ask a factory to source fabrics, trims, and components (that usually make up more than 50% of the garments cost), they will look for the cheapest, so their quote looks the most competitive.
The labour cost is fixed. The speed at which they machinist stitches is also fixed along with the factory overheads and labour costs, so the way they can beat their competitors is to select cheaper ingredients.
If your budget to build a house is $1M, then you expect the house to cost $1M and the quality to match. If you engaged a builder and they said they could save you $250K, you might think you’re getting a bargain until you realise you get what you pay for, and the quality isn’t where you want it to be.
When selecting a designer, you need to make sure they can source all the fabrics and components from quality, nominated suppliers and also understand the labour costs from the factory. Without having the ability to source the fabrics, trims, and components, all you end up with is a pretty drawing that probably doesn’t answer your brief in terms of budget.
When we start the design process at Blue Associates, we always agree the target cost price of each piece and where the products will be produced based on quality, skill base and cost. By agreeing these parameters first, we can then create a design that not only answers the brief in terms of style but also fits your budget perfectly. This is how ALL established brands work.
We receive so many enquiries from entrepreneurs that have found a freelance designer that created designs and tech packs, only to find the tech pack is worthless. The fabrics and trims haven’t been nominated from a supplier and a simple description is provided instead. That’s a bit like an architect requesting the walls to be brick, the door to be wood and the windows glass. This allows the builder to then select the cheapest and most convenient supplier for these components and you will end up with a product that won’t deliver your required performance or hit your target price.
You need to make sure that every fabric component and piece of trim is sourced from a quality supplier and the details are part of the tech pack, dictating to the factory (builder) where each of these need to be purchased from and how much they are. These fabrics, trims and components should have been selected based on the supplier’s quality, performance and price.
If a factory receives your tech pack and suggests an alternative fabric or component, then these need to be approved by the designer to approve the quality and performance. All quality suppliers and fabric mills will provide detailed test reports which need to be checked and approved before substitutes are agreed.
Starting a brand isn’t a cheap exercise. Chances are you are gambling your savings and NEED this to work. Therefore, you need to stop looking for the perfect builder and look for the perfect architect that can guide you through the process and guarantee the quality, performance and deliver to your target budget.
If you are currently looking for that perfect factory, then please stop and get in touch so we can start to discuss your brand values, target consumer and required target price before we start to look at which builder might be suitable.