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Clothing Manufacturers

One of the most difficult challenges in the fashion industry is finding clothing manufacturers suitable for your specific needs. Here we'll discuss clothing manufacturing in general and share some tips for finding an apparel manufacturer that best fits your brand.

Everything You Need to Know About

Custom Clothing Manufacturers 

There are as many different types of clothing manufacturers in the world as there are different types of clothing. As a fashion brand looking for a new custom manufacturer, it can be a frustrating and bewildering process searching for the right fit.

It's an old industry, as old as time, and in many ways the clothing manufacturing industry lags way behind other industries. That's the reason it can be so frustrating. Much of the industry is not visible online, not reachable by email or even by phone in many cases. For an outsider, it's nearly impossible to penetrate the industry and figure out how it works. 

Here at Prototype, that is exactly our mission. Prototype re-imagines the age-old process of developing & manufacturing fashion products, taking the pain out of sourcing and developing new products. Our streamlined solutions help both buyers and suppliers better compete in the global marketplace.

Prototype is committed to a bold new standard in ethical manufacturing and high quality, sustainable production. Let's talk about two of the most common considerations for most brands searching for clothing manufacturers...

Domestic vs. Overseas

Clothing Manufacturing

When manufacturing apparel, buyers were typically  concerned about just 2 things: quality and cost. Now, we have a 3rd piece just as important to today’s consumers: origin.

The Importance of Origin

For decades, most consumers have prioritized price above all other considerations when shopping. Fast fashion evolved custom clothing manufacturers to meet this intense demand for cheap, throwaway goods. Now, however, many consumers are reevaluating their shopping choices for the sake of the environment and for other moral & ethical reasons. At Prototype, we pay close attention to these changing trends and we offer a clear alternative to these unsustainable manufacturing methods.

Let’s be honest here. Why do so many companies manufacture apparel in China? Is it because we align with Chinese government values? Is it because of their stellar environmental record? Or is it because it’s just plain cheap? 

Easy answer... In most cases, it's the price. That’s the single biggest reason why most of the world is manufacturing is China. Even when Americans rage against Chinese politics and trade policy, we soothe our rattled nerves with a bunch of cheap gear from Walmart and have a drink from a Chinese-made glass bottle. Even when we celebrate Independence Day, we buy Chinese made flags, chairs, coolers, beer coozies…

You name it, it’s from China. But do consumers have a choice? Have the brands and apparel suppliers given the consumers a choice?

Sadly, in most cases, no.

Do consumers want a choice? Hell yes they do!

The people are asking for alternatives to China production. Politics are a powerful motivator in today’s world and many consumers are seeking to buy apparel products that are not made in China.

Regardless of whether it’s a political motivation or not, it’s simply good practice, for our earth and its people, to spread the wealth and the work as evenly as possible. Chinese clothing vendors are great in many ways: they’re generally reliable, quality is consistent and pricing is competitive. However, there are clothing manufacturers located all over the world. There’s no reason why we should be so focused on China.

Domestic vs. Overseas Clothing Manufacturers

Now, when it comes to considerations about choosing local clothing manufacturers vs an overseas clothing manufacturer, the considerations get a bit more complicated. Check out this great article, Why Manufacture in Indonesia? to learn more about our perspective on the topic. 

It's not just as simple as saying "local is better". In many cases, manufacturing locally can actually be less environmentally sustainable. It all depends on where the raw materials came from, how they were transported and if alternate materials were available. USA clothing manufacturers, for example, generally work with fabrics produced in China. So, in that case, the argument may have more to do with local jobs than environmental sustainability. 

There's no clear case to be made black or white on this topic. Each brand will have to make its own careful determination, weighing the factors of what the product is, the materials used, the intended market location and all the other various factors that go into creating the story of a brand.

All of which segue nicely into the next topic: Ethics & Sustainability 

Ethical & Sustainable Manufacturing

At Prototype, we are opening apparel manufacturing channels around the world. Our mission is to expand opportunities to small businesses in developing nations everywhere. 

The Importance of Ethics in Clothing Manufacturing

These days there are a lot of fashion labels who care deeply about ethics and sustainability in their supply chain. And good on them!

All the attention has created a demand, and a financial incentive, for clothing manufacturers to provide higher levels of concern for the safety and health of their staff, as well as more environmentally-friendly options for the manufacturing process and supplies. 

Unfortunately, however, where there’s a financial incentive, there’s also a motivation to bend the rules, leading to a “greenwashing” effect where suppliers can easily just employ these labels to lead consumers to belief that they’re contributing to something great when in fact it’s just more of the same old thing.

At Prototype, we think about this question a lot. How can we, as a custom clothing manufacturer, support TRULY ethical production, while also avoiding the bullshit the industry uses to cover its tracks? Read more about our answer to this in our article about Certified Ethical Manufacturing.

In actual practice, ethics and sustainability are a complicated bunch of considerations. It's not enough to just slap a stick on something that says "IRL 5002 Certified". Those certifications are generally based on a bunch of bureaucracy and BS that only the largest companies have the budget to pay for. And the obvious fact is that the largest companies are almost never the gold standard of sustainability. In fact, small businesses far outcompete a corporation on nearly any measurable standard. 

So how do you, as a fashion brand, navigate this complex and confusing world of smoke and mirrors? Quite simply.... one careful step at a time. Build your brand thoughtfully and with positive intention. That's the only path that is guaranteed to work. 

The Birth Story of a Brand

Every brand, every product, has a birth story. 

This story is about the suppliers, the clothing manufacturers, the workers, and the conditions of the factory. It's your personal journey, your history, your values and your view of the world. The birth story of every product is a multi-layered, fascinating story if you dig in deep enough to hear it. A smart brand should be paying close attention to this.

So, why is the birth story so important? 

The “story” behind an apparel product and a brand is rapidly becoming a top, if not the top, consideration for consumers as they make the decision whether to buy a product. Fashion brands should be aware of this as they select clothing manufacturers for their products.

An apparel supplier that can assist with building a compelling brand story is difficult to find, but not impossible. In fact, you’ve already found one!

Here at Prototype, we work closely with our clients to ensure that our manufacturing processes and suppliers closely align with your brand’s values. We provide added value to your brand by weaving a compelling origin story story into the birth of your products.

The result is simple:

Products whose origin story aligns with the values of the brand sell better than traditional products.

  EVERY BRAND NEEDS A STORY

Build YOUR Brand with Prototype.

Prototype is a full service fashion company, offering absolutely everything you need to design, develop and bring a product to market. 

Frequently, clients who are new to the fashion industry assume that apparel manufacturing is the start and endpoint for launching an apparel product.

It’s important to note, however, that manufacturing is just the last step in a series of actions that need to be taken to properly develop and prepare a product for sale to the public.

Generally, people will search first for clothing manufacturers or garment factory, before realizing that they’ve landed in the wrong place and they need to start over. 

That’s the beauty of Prototype. We can accommodate you no matter where you’re at in your process. There is no wrong starting point and there is no reason to lose valuable time repeating the same process over and over for different suppliers.

If your product is fully developed and requires no additional services before manufacturing…. Amazing! We would love to hear from you. But if you’re like most people, you probably need a few things worked out before you’re ready to drop the big bucks on a custom manufacturing order.

No matter where you're at in your process, we’re happy to have you. You’ll find that the Prototype Process is smoother and easier than anything else in the industry. You’ll have your products in your hands, ready to sell, with a minimum of time, energy and frustration.

All the Services I Needed to Build My Brand

I don't have a background in fashion, so when it came time to start my brand, Prototype was the perfect fit for me. They provided all the services I needed to build my brand and create my product. 

Sarah J.
Fashion Entrepreneur
training & education

Prototype offers a full lineup of educational material, training, consultations, tools and resources. Everything you'll need to learn about the fashion industry and start preparing yourself, and your brand, for the road ahead.

brand building

Your brand needs a strong foundation in order to survive and thrive. Work with us to build your brand, from design services to marketing and analytics. We'll put your brand on the strongest footing possible and help you grow!

Fashion Product Development

We offer a full range of product development services, from schematic design all the way through to the samples and tech packs. During the development process, we'll work with you to fully realize your design, with tags, labels, packaging and anything else you might need assistance with. No need to go anywhere else!

apparel manufacturing

When your product has been fully developed, it's time for manufacturing. At last! We work with an extensive network of clothing manufacturers, all thoroughly vetted and proven to provide the best quality and highest ethical standards. We'll pair your project with the most suitable supplier for the task and we'll handle all the back-and-forth management and quality control... right here, in-house.

inquire now for a free quote.

  IT'S AS EASY AS BLACK AND WHITE  

Black Label

vs.

White Label

White Label by Prototype

The fastest and easiest way to launch your fashion brand

Our White Label collection is thoughtfully designed by our seasoned design team here at Prototype to have amazing quality, perfected fits and in-demand style. Our white label allows you to create styles unique to your brand with industry-leading customization options, while saving you time and money by avoiding the custom product development process.

Black Label by Prototype

Fully-custom product development gives you full control

There are no limits to your creativity when you work with our Black Label services. Whether you're an avant-garde designer or a product innovator, Prototype has services to allow you create nearly anything you can imagine. Black Label requires a significant investment of time and money, but if you're thinking  big, it'll be worth it!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Clothing Manufacturers

How to find a clothing manufacturer?

At first glance, this sounds like an obvious question. But the truth is that it's incredibly difficult to find a clothing manufacturer. There are, of course, directories and websites devoted to finding reputable clothing factories. However, the difficulty is not so much finding the manufacturer, but finding an apparel manufacturer that meets your specific needs. For that, you'll need to have a very clear understanding of your specific needs and be able to meet their needs as well. 

This challenge is the very reason that Prototype exists. We offer easy and painless clothing manufacturing solutions for fashion brands around the world.

How much does it cost to manufacture clothing?

The cost of manufacturing clothing generally depends upon the quantity, quality and the value of the materials that you're using in the production. This varies widely, of course, and there is no fixed standard price. What you may be asking, however, is if there are costs in addition to the unit cost of the items. And that's a great question. 

The answer is yes, and no. Many people aren't aware of all the early stage product development work that goes into the clothing manufacturing process. There are prototypes, various types of samples, and of course the documentation that you'll need to have a successful manufacturing order. All of those items are paid separately and most clothing manufacturers do not assist you with those steps of the process. 

A clothing manufacturer will typically expect you to come to them with all steps completed. If you don't, generally the factory will ignore you, which can be very frustrating to the beginner who may not realize they have done anything wrong. 

Here at Prototype, we're ready to help, regardless of where you are in your process. Just contact us and we'll take it from there!

Where are "x" brand clothes manufactured?

Many people try to discover the manufacturer of their favorite brand. Sometimes it's for the purpose of copying a brand's products or sometimes for curiosity or other reasons. But it's not an easy task. It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to discover the exact manufacturer of a brand. 

If you spend a tremendous amount of time in a certain manufacturing region, it's possible that you could track it down. But the big brands have contracts in place and NDA agreements that would make it very difficult for you to determine exactly who is manufacturing what. 

How to find a brand's manufacturer?

Many people try to discover the manufacturer of their favorite brand. Sometimes it's for the purpose of copying a brand's products or sometimes for curiosity or other reasons. But it's not an easy task. It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to discover the exact manufacturer of a brand. 

If you spend a tremendous amount of time in a certain manufacturing region, it's possible that you could track it down. But the big brands have contracts in place and NDA agreements that would make it very difficult for you to determine exactly who is manufacturing what. 

How to get a manufacturer to make your clothing?

Getting a manufacturer to make your clothing is not as easy as just choosing one and giving them money, as anyone in the fashion industry can attest. That's because it's a 2-sided relationship. Just as much as the clothing manufacturer needs to meet your needs, you'll need to meet their needs. They may have specific requirements for minimum order quantities, types of clothing, required documentation or other requirements. 

The best way to get a manufacturer to make your clothing is to be carefully prepared with all required documentation before contacting them. Or, choose a manufacturer who is sophisticated enough to understand where you're at in the process and who can assist you with completing all the required steps. Like Prototype, perhaps? 😁

How do clothing manufacturers work?

Clothing manufacturers work on a contract. There's no "standard" contract simply because the needs of each customer and each manufacturer vary so widely. Small quantity manufacturing will have a completely different set of requirements as a big order. 

One thing to consider is that the validity of the contract will vary based on the region in which it was signed and in which it has jurisdiction. Truthfully, many apparel manufacturers have contracts that are mostly worthless in the case of any potential liability. For that reason, here at Prototype, we offer our clients a contract with jurisdiction in the USA. We find that offers a degree of confidence that is not offered anywhere else internationally. 

How do I manufacture my own clothes?

If you want to manufacture clothing for your own brand, the first consideration is whether or not you have sufficient demand for your products to reach the quantity required by a clothing manufacturer. In general, you should have the ability to sell at least 100 units. If you haven't figured out how you're going to sell the items yet, it's really best if you spend additional time in planning your fashion business so that you'll be in a position to be a strong customer.

How long does it take to manufacture clothes?

The time it takes to manufacture clothing will vary widely based on the type of clothing, the quantity, the manufacturer and the season. In general, most clothing manufacturers require an order to be placed at least 3-4 months before completion. For big orders, this can be up to 6 months or more. However, with the growth of "fast fashion", the timeframes have dropped significantly, as larger companies have rolling orders that may be completed in as little as 2 months. 

For a small company or startup, we always recommend that you start the process at least 6-12 months before you expect to start selling. 

How to contact a clothing manufacturer?

Contacting a clothing manufacturer can be difficult, especially if they're overseas. The truth is that many of them don't really want to hear from new customers, because many of the inquiries are a waste of time from the perspective of the manufacturer. It takes a lot of time to provide a quote and most inquiries don't result in significant orders. Lots of tire-kicking in the fashion industry. 

It's best to contact a clothing manufacturer that actually wants to hear from you and has the ability to help. Here at Prototype, we work with clients at every stage of the process. We're easy to contact and we're happy to answer your questions!

 introductory special $275 $199 

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