Where is best to source and produce sportswear?

There are 1,000’s of sportswear and activewear factories around the world, so where should you place your sportswear production? Which factory is right for you?

The choice seems to be huge. There are 1,000’s of factories that all claim to specialise in high-performance activewear or sportswear, but which ones are legitimate and how do I decide where to look.

You need to start with your brand. Understand what your brand stands for, the consumer, placement in the market, quality, performance and features and this should help determine which territory your production will be placed in.

For instance, if you are a luxury brand focussed on locally sourced, sustainable production and you are based in Europe, chances are you will want to source your factory in Europe. If your brand is mid-market to premium but still has a sustainable angle then Europe or the far East could be a solution as there are many sustainable fabric mills placed in the Far East and all of our factories are audited and therefore care about their waste, staff and ethics.

If your brand is focused on budget and cost is your driving factor, then a factory in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh is probably most suitable. Please note that we only work with Mid, Premium and Luxury brands and don’t have factories in these territories.

Now you have worked out which territory you are most likely to start the search, how do you find the right factory for you? Well, that’s the tricky part. Jumping onto Alibaba, Made In or other sourcing websites is probably your first point of action, however, they are full of factories that all claim to make for leading sportswear brands and have 100’s of photos of these leading brands products to entice you in. Great, you have just found the Lulu Lemons factory. How easy was this…? Hold on. You need to ask yourself why this was so easy and why are there so many factories promoting the fact they work with XYZ brand.

Most established brands have an NDA with their supplier and this contract forbids them to promote what they produce for their brand. Brands need to protect where they source their sportswear production, otherwise, it makes it too easy for their direct competitors to knock them off. Therefore, if you find a supplier that promotes, they make for an established brand and even though they have photos of this product (which they have taken from google or purchased some garments to photograph), don’t be suckered in.

Many of our start-up clients have fallen for this, paid for samples to be developed and then received nothing that resembles the quality of the brand they claim to produce for. At this point, they become disappointed and start to dig a bit further into how to source a factory and contact us.

Factories that make for established brands usually have a terrible website or profile on the sourcing platforms because they cannot promote the garments they make. They obtain their orders through reputation and word of mouth and have huge repeat business with their clients who develop and order new products every season, year after year. These factories are not desperate for new business and don’t need to advertise or promote themselves. Many have specific requirements before they take on new clients such as a minimum order value or high MOQ’s and they get approached by several start-ups every day.

We place our start-ups in the factory because we only take on clients we believe have the potential to succeed. We also get lots of enquiries, however, we filter out the brands we want to work with based on how successful we think they might become. This is based on several factors including what the brand stands for, their USP, competitors, budget, ethics, and founder/s. We are happy to work with start-ups but want to work long term and help grow their business year after year.

If you are at the start of your search to find a suitable sportswear factory and want some advice or a quote, please get in touch.

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