You've probably been thinking about starting your own clothing line for a while now. It's a big decision, but it's also an exciting one. You probably have a lot of questions about what goes into starting a clothing line, and one of the most important decisions you'll make is what type of fabrics to use.
While numerous case-to-case factors affect choosing fabric for clothing lines, in this guide, we'll share a few points to consider while selecting fabrics for your clothing line that are important from our experience. Let's get started!
1) Theme of the collection
When choosing fabrics for your clothing line, it's essential to start with the theme of your collection. What does your clothing say? What mood are you creating?
Once you have a good idea of what you want your collection to look like, it'll be a lot easier to start narrowing down your options. You'll want to find fabrics that reflect the mood and aesthetic of your line while still being versatile enough to create a variety of different looks.
For example, if your collection's theme is artistic, you may go for ethnic hand-block fabrics like Ajarakh, Bagru, Gamathi, Ikat etc. On the other hand, if you are working on a fancy theme, you may consider Fancy Imported Fabrics.
So take your time and experiment until you find the perfect fabrics that speak to your brand and your clients.
It's important to keep your buyers in mind, their aspirations and the occasions on which they will use garments while choosing fabric for your clothing line. For example, what kind of statement do you want them to make when they wear your clothes?
2) Buyer's aspirations and occasions
If you're targeting a luxury market, you'll want to use high-quality fabrics that reflect that. On the other hand, if you're going for a more casual vibe, you can afford to be a bit more playful and experiment with different textures and patterns.
The bottom line is that as a designer, it's your responsibility to choose fabrics that will make your clothing look and feel its best. So take the time to research the options and choose wisely.
3) Price of the ready garment
It's important to remember that the price of a ready garment can have a long-lasting effect on your business. So if you're looking to keep your costs down, consider working with a fabric that's affordable and readily available.
In the same way, you want to maintain quality for the price. So it's crucial to find a balance that works for you and your business. You also need to consider the type of customer you're targeting.
For example, if you're targeting a luxury market, you'll need to use high-end fabrics like silk and brocades that will command a higher price tag. But if you're looking to reach a more budget-conscious consumer, plenty of affordable fabric options like two-ply cotton and flex fabric will still look stylish and modern. Generally, the fabric cost for an outfit should be between 20% and 40% of its total manufacturing cost.
4) Geo Location & Weather
The thing to remember about choosing fabrics for your clothing line is that your customer's location will play a significant role in what types of materials you can work with.
For instance, if customers are in a hot and humid climate, you'll want to avoid fabrics that make buyers sweat. Cotton might be a good choice in this case since it's breathable and absorbs moisture. However, if customers are in a colder climate, consider fabrics that keep them warm, like matty, wool or fleece. Finally, if customers are in a moderate climate, you have many options to choose from.
When making your fabric choices, remember to think about your target audience and what type of climate they live in or use your garment in.
5) Choose your fabric forte
You generally have three broad categories for the fabrics you use for your clothing line: plains, printed and fancy fabrics.
You can work with plain fabrics, like dyed rayon or linen. Or, you can go with printed fabrics, like cotton prints or chanderi prints. And if you want to go all out, you can work with fancy materials, like velvet or embroidered. It is important to note that each of these options has both advantages and disadvantages. So it's crucial to think about what type of effect you want your clothing line to have.
6) Choice of Vendor
Once you have zeroed down on fabrics, it is crucial to source it right from the correct vendor. Your first step is locating a vendor and establishing a business relationship with them. It is famous lore in the Indian fabric industry that a genuine vendor can make or break your business. Transparency, market experience, commitment, communication, ready stock availability, supply agility, quantity flexibility, payment terms and return options are essential to decide a vendor.
When starting, it is always beneficial to work with vendors who keep ready fabrics in stock, supply in minimum quantity and are already supplying to established designers and brands. Once your brand matures, it is more viable to work directly with manufacturers as you are precise about your requirement and can invest in bulk production.
At SourceItRight, we have the option of flexible wholesale to buy small quantities at beneficial rates when you are starting or creating samples of your garment and then to place custom manufacturing orders in bulk quantities at wholesale price. We work with over 100 manufacturers pan India to supply suitable fabrics to small businesses and boutiques.
7) Repeat Orders and Production Scaling
When you first start your clothing line, you might have a limited amount of resources to stock fabrics, and that's okay because that's how it starts for everyone (we also started with a stock of 8000 meters of fabrics in 2016).
When you launch your first clothing line, some garment items will sell more than others; stock out soon, and you might want to take pre-orders. Here, you should be aware if that fabric is available for repeat orders, production orders and the time involved in the process. This essential information will help you confirm and give your end customers an estimated delivery timeline.
As you grow your business, which we are sure you will, you will scale up your production and require fabrics in bulk quantities and on a repeat basis. Here two factors are important: the vendor should be able to match the scaled requirement, and the fabrics should be such that production can be scaled up. For instance, for many handmade fabrics like authentic Bandhani, it is tough to scale up production beyond a point, and you will have to avoid such materials if you are planning bulk production.
When do you need to deliver ready garments? This is one of the most critical questions when choosing the right fabric. If you are looking for quick delivery, you must choose from the ready stock available with your vendor. On the other hand, suppose you plan to launch a garment line of unique fabrics you plan to custom-make. In that case, your timeline should incorporate the fabric's production time, transport time, garment manufacturing time and time taken to sell them. This timeline will help you to estimate the working capital required and decide the terms with vendors, buyers and financial institutes.
No matter what, it's essential to start planning early. That way, you'll have plenty of time to test different fabrics and see which ones fit your line best.
9) Goals, values, and consciousness of brands
When you're starting your own clothing line, one of the most significant decisions you'll make is what type of fabrics to use. But before you even think about that, you need to ask yourself some tough questions: What's your brand's goal? What's your brand's value system? And what kind of consciousness do you want your brand to have?
These are all important factors to consider when choosing your fabrics because the type of fabric you choose will send a message to your customers about who you are as a designer. Are you eco-conscious? Are you sustainable? Are you all about luxury and high-end fashion? Or are you more streetwear-oriented?
Once you've answered these questions, narrowing your options and finding the perfect fabric for your brand will be much easier.
As a designer, your clothing line is your brainchild. It's the culmination of all your hard work and creativity, and you want to make sure it stands out from the rest. The best way to do so is by consciously selecting suitable fabrics. We hope our guide will give you thinking points to develop this entrepreneurial consciousness and critical decision-making.
If you have feedback or want to share some points we can add to this guide, please email us at email@example.com.