SILHOUETTE/CADS: From your Research and sourcing ideas, you should have a clean direction on what styles you plan to add to your collection. Since most factories need specific details, it is always good the create your CADS in the computer of your products so you can add your specs afterward. Consider all of your CADS to be Men’s Large or Women’s Medium for later use as it will be crucial for the next step. With the fabrics you chose, start building the styles you would prefer to apply these fabrics into. Be aware, fabrics may be unavailable or may need to change depending on a variety of reasons; however, knowing your starting point is key to designing with the ones you prefer in mind.
GRAPHICS: I personally prefer to wait for samples to come in before finalize the actual design due to the way the body curves and making the adjustment based on that, however you may be short on time so apply your graphics with the understanding that you are enhancing the garment to add a better selling feature to it and not because you need to and position it so the measurements of the finished design are compliment and not an intrusion. For example. Most women do not prefer the graphic to be placed at a focal point highlighting sensitive areas of their body so if you are designing a graphic that goes across the chest in a horizontal rectangle make sure it is sized and placed above the nipples and not directly on them. This type of detail can be a make it or break it for your sales with a particular garment.
TRIM: Branding is key so creating labels, hang tags and other small trim items like buttons and rivets can be the extra details that push a buyer to choose your garment. Personally, I would create a seasonal trim kit that can be apply to all your styles in any particular collection to save cost and time when getting quotes and explaining details to your factory.
MEASUREMENTS & TECHNICAL DETAILS
Using a sample is the best starting point to reduce cost and time and by submitting it with your tech pack, you can avoid some time to full measurement details and ask factory to refer to it for overall sizing. This creates a better starting point with fitting, makes the adjustments more accurate, compared to the ambiguity from hand drawn lines that are not completely exposing all of the potential details to make it correct the first time around. This practice is very common and completely legal due to utilitarian design law. If you have an idea that you do not see in the market, or it is just over the top creative, you will need to show the sketch so the factory can work it out. It will most likely increase your time to get the samples or materials right along with the fit right in the development stage so make sure you plan ahead of time to avoid being late to market. Here’s a better view of some details to include.
Once you have all of you CAD’s created to Spec along with finalizing your TECH PACK‘s and organizing all of you fabric swatches, trim details and samples, you can submit your package to the factory to get a quote and once you work out pricing details, you can start the final process to approvals.
QUOTES & TIMELINES
Depending on the volume of styles you sent over, it may take the factory some time to get back to you since they need to source everything, calculate yield and see what is available and what needs to be custom made. Once you get back the information, you can start working out how to move forward and what changes you should make to increase production speed or to lower pricing. Also, shipping and duty charges should be worked out so you can include that in you garment cost for when you plan to sell your product. I always suggest asking for the LDP (Landed Duties Paid) cost and work with who the factory has already set up terms with to help you avoid the extra headache of figuring out how to get your product back to the states.
In a perfect world, The turnaround time from submitting everything to seeing landed production should take 3 months time. 2 months for actual production once everything is approved and a month on the water for shipping. Any details that need to be adjusted during the time of sampling and fitting may affect this time and prolong it so plan accordingly and pad yourself 2-3 months just for this particular part of the process as well giving yourself 6 months time from the initial submitting of your product details for quoting until you see your production on your warehouse floor.
Now that you have your quote and worked out all of the details, you will be receiving samples from the factory to so you can start working towards approving the styles to have the factory begin production processes on their end. Since this entire process for the factory is a logistical nightmare for most, being open to receiving things in unattached pieces, sections or with incorrect fabrics to get the approval for print or fitting, zipper pulls, etc. is something you will need to be realistic about.
Once you receive actual sewn samples, you will need to find use a “fit model” of someone who is the general body style of your market you plan to sell to in either a Men’s Large or Women’s Medium according to the spec details you created from the beginning as suggested. Once you find this person and can have them try everything on, you will need to do your measurements and note anything as you need them to be adjusted.
Since language is a huge barrier to most other non English cultures, when submitting you changes, try to always provide visual references or photos with marks on how to make adjustment from your sample so details can be better understood and the time going back and forth can be avoided.
APPROVALS & PO
Now that all of your details have been completed, you will want to see a final (PP) Pre Production sample to verify that everything you have worked out and it is all understood. At this time, your PP Samples will be required to be produced from the factory along with graded PP’s for every size if absolutely needed. From there, you can approve all of the final fit, fabrics, other material and trim details along with quality before you submit your final PO over. Once submitted, you should see your product in a few months so use your PP to start getting buyers set up for when it lands.