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How to Source the Best Fabric for Your Fashion Line: 5 Tips

Fabric is of paramount importance when it comes to creating a fashion line. Not only does it change the look of each of your pieces, but it also has a significant impact on the cost of producing your fashion line. As 25%-40% of the price of a creating a garment is spent on fabric, learning where and how to source the best fabrics can greatly benefit your fashion line. Here are five tips from Los Angeles Fashion Source's production experts:

1. Decide What the Fabric Will be Used For

Fabric sourcing begins with first understanding what your fabric will be used to make. What season will your fashion line be made for? This alone will help you narrow down your fabric choices in terms of colors, fibers types and fabric weight. What is the type of garment you will be creating? Certain fabrics work better for running shorts, while others are more well-suited to lightweight kimonos. What does your line aim to do? Are you looking to create a haute couture collection for the runway or provide professional clothing for the working young professional? Thinking through the reason behind the creation of your line will enable you to determine the textural properties - weight and drape - your garments will need.

2. Get Your Fabric From a Distributor or Wholesaler

There are three types of fabric suppliers: mills, which manufacture fabric in bulk, distributors/wholesalers, who purchase materials from mills, and jobbers, who purchase stocked fabric from mills and distributors.

In many industries, cutting out the middleman and purchasing straight from the source or purchasing excess inventory is the most cost-saving option. However, we recommend getting fabric from a distributor or wholesaler. Buying fabric from a mill may mean having to work with an international team in a different time zone and receiving fabrics that haven't undergone quality control. Buying fabric from a jobber may mean encountering flawed fabrics or discontinued fabrics with limited quantities. By sourcing your fabric from a distributor/wholesaler, your fabric will generally be of a higher quality.

3. Check on MOQ and Lead Time

It is common for suppliers to require a Minimum Order Quantity of yards of fabric for each order. The MOQ may range from 1-1000 yards or there may be no MOQ at all. As the budding owner of a fashion line, committing to larger orders may be challenging. Ask your potential suppliers for volume discounts or wholesale pricing for production quantities. A state resale license may be required for the latter.

Plan out your fashion line production schedule and factor in lead time for your fabric to be delivered. When ordering large quantities of fabric, you may also need to factor in lead time for your fabric to be made-to-order. Communicate with your supplier to make sure you are on the same page in terms of the in-hands date for your fabric.

4. Ask for Sample Yardage or Swatches

About 80% of fabric suppliers will offer sample yardage, while the other 20% may only offer a swatch. Order samples and swatches so that you may have an understanding of whether or not the fabric will work for your garments. Though a premium may be charged for the samples and swatches, having them on hand will allow you to see how colors and materials go along with one another. Consider ordering multiple samples and swatches to see which best fits the garment you are creating.

5. Test Your Fabric

If you have a choice between a swatch or a sample, purchase sample yardage so that you may do a Wash Test. Wash the fabric, and then check for shrinkage, fading, peeling, and bleeding of the dye. Also, check for shrinkage, crocking, elasticity, torquing, and rigidity. By conducting these tests on your fabric, you can minimize issues with your garment and the number of returns you might otherwise receive.

LA Fashion Source's experts have build relationships with the best garment suppliers domestically and globally, to source fabric with integrity for your fashion line.

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