How To Procure Materials For Your Clothing Line
Starting a clothing line involves countless moving parts. With a good foundation and high-quality materials, you can stand out from other fashion brands. There are different types of fabric qualities – knitted, woven, yarn-dyed and printed. As well as many techniques for knitting, weaving, and printing.
For many fashion designers, the first step in the design process is choosing the fabric. The next step is designing garments around this fabric. Choosing the right materials for your clothing line can be overwhelming. Here we look at the different types of fabrics and suppliers as well as the right questions to ask when sourcing fabrics for your clothing line.
Fundamentals of tissue engineering
It is a critical factor in the design process to understand how the fabric is constructed and what type of fabric is best for the product you are designing.
While there are many different ways tissues can be made, two of the most commonly used types of fabric construction are knitted fabric.
Knitted fabrics are generally lightweight, comfortable and do not require special care to maintain their appearance. Knitwear tends to resist wrinkling, making it a more popular fabric choice. Knitted fabrics are used in designing soft, comfortable tops, bottoms and underwear. Their elastic nature is also good for active clothing.
Today knitwear is available in different fibers such as linen, silk, wool, Tencel, polyester, cotton and cotton blends.
There are two basic ways that knits are made:
A weft or a hand-knitted fabric consists of a single yarn that is looped to create horizontal rows. Each line builds on the previous line.
A warp knit is made with several parallel yarns that are simultaneously looped vertically to form the fabric.
This Threads Magazine article gives you a detailed look at knit construction. The Real Simple t-shirt glossary is a great source of information to learn more about the types of knitwear used by t-shirt brands.
Fabrics are made with two or more sets of threads interwoven at right angles to each other and made on a machine called a loom or loom. Common features of fabrics are opacity, abrasion resistance, and tablet resistance. The higher the thread count, the higher the quality and strength. Used for fabrics are jeans and formal pants, button-down shirts and jackets.
Two classifications of tissues are:
Basic or simple weaves include plain weave, twill weave, and satin weave.
Complex or novel weaves include Dobby Weave, Jacquard Weave, Pique (like a Men’s Polo T-shirt), and more.
This article in Textile School provides a detailed look at woven fabrics.
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Types of materials suppliers for your clothing line
Finding reliable fabric suppliers is a critical step in building a clothing line. It is best to find partners who guarantee the inventory you need and on-time delivery.
There are three types of fabric suppliers defined based on how they work and the type of fabric they store.
Fabric Mills: offer made-to-measure fabrics and often have essential minimum order requirements (MOQs).
Converter: is a company that buys raw materials from the textile factory. Then the fabric is dyed, printed or washed before being sold to you.
Jobbers: usually carry a limited stock of material left over from processors and mills. They may sell it at discounted prices and usually refill a fabric, color or print as soon as they are sold out. Be careful with this type of fabric supplier as you may not be able to order the same fabric twice.
Suppliers of materials for your clothing line
You can see and touch the materials through the personal procurement of fabrics at fabric shows. But you can also find online fabric suppliers and order fabric hangers (also called patterns or patterns) that you can check in your studio or office. Depending on the textile mill, a fee may be charged, usually between $ 5 and $ 10 per hanger.
Get your stuff on fairs
Fabric fairs can be overwhelming. Rows and rows of supplies, sometimes hundreds, are worth seeing in a few hours. You can research in the exhibiting textile factories before the fair and create a list of your top ten. Take a few minutes if you discover fabric suppliers that you did not find in your online search.
Two fabric fairs to start with are:
DG Expo is better for small quantities of fabric orders, and many of the exhibiting fabric suppliers are based in the US or have showrooms in the US.
Texworld is a major trade fair with more exhibitors. Many of the textile suppliers exhibiting at Texworld have overseas plants, including China and India.
Here you will find a list of textile fairs in the USA in chronological order.
Enter your fabric online
If you can not make it to a fabric fair, the next best option is to search the web sites of fairs for fabric suppliers that match your criteria. Today, many, if not all, fabric suppliers have a fabric catalog on their website. You can browse at will and request fabric heads (sometimes referred to as hangers) that you can conveniently check-in your office.
Frequently Asked Questions on Fabric Sourcing
It’s critical to know the right questions and what to look for when procuring fabrics for your clothing line. Many brands create a datasheet template, a form that lists specific information about individual fabric qualities. In some cases, the fabric supplier already has a data sheet that he can provide.
Here are 10 questions you should ask the fabric supplier if you are looking for fabrics for your clothing line.
1. fabric article or article number
Just like finished products that you sell through your e-commerce store, fabric suppliers create part numbers for each grade of fabric they sell. The fabric article number is usually located on the fabric hangers. Make a note of this number because you will need it when ordering the pattern and stock.
2. Fabric Weight
It’s important to think about the fabric weight of every garment you design. You probably will not use the same weight for every product in your collection. Often bottoms use heavier tissue than shells. However, this depends on the individual garments and how the fabric is to be placed over the body of the wearer.
The weight is given in grams per square meter (GSM or GR / M2). Below are some examples of fabric weights used for different types of knitwear.
Activewear leggings and sports bras are about 200 GSM – 300 GSM
Lounge Pants are about 180 GSM – 250 GSM
Standard T-shirts are about 130 GSM – 180 GSM
Lightweight T-shirts are about 130 GSM and less
Please note that these weights are empirical values. The fabric weight you choose may vary for your clothing line.
Fabric content refers to the structure of the fibers used to knit or weave the fabric. Commonly used fibers are rayon, cotton, polyester, and silk.
4. Fabric Construction
In fabric construction, yarns and sometimes fibers are made into a piece of fabric, from which a final product is made. Fabric characteristics are determined by the materials and methods used to make the fabric. At present, interwoven methods such as weaving or knitting are usually used in the production of fabrics.
5. Fabric Width (Total and Cuttable)
Fabric width is the dimension across the width of the fabric roll from edge to edge. The fabric suppliers provide you with two measuring points (if not, ask for them).
The two dimensions to be considered are the total width and the cutting width. The fabric edges may be crooked or damaged during manufacture and transportation. Therefore, refer to the cutting width for more accurate measurement of the usable fabric.
The finished edge of the fabric so it does not dissolve and fray. The salvage runs over the entire length of the material.
The grain of the fabric is divided into three options:
Long grain (warp) refers to the threads that run parallel to the salvage.
Transverse grain (weft) refers to the threads that run perpendicular to the selvage or along the cut edge of the fabric.
Schrägkorn is technically not a “grain”. This is the 45-degree angle between warp and weft. Cutting your fabric on the slope will result in more stretch and can be used wherever the material is required to smoother over a curve.
The cloth is one of the most important factors to consider when making a garment. Cloth refers to how the fabric hangs or falls on the body. You can decide if you want a dress to embrace the body or depend on the body.
The fabric pattern is a cloth hanger, also called fabric head. It’s a small section of the fabric so shoppers can see and feel the material first-hand. You can also use the swatch as a reference during the design process.
Pattern length is the stuff you order when designing and developing patterns. As a rule, it costs more than the yard goods that you buy for production. Most fabric suppliers require a minimum order of five meters for the pattern length.
Bulk Yardage is the fabric you order after you have designed, developed and approved your garments. The mass fraction refers to the greater amount of materials for your clothing line you buy to make your products. Depending on the supplier, there may be significant minimum order quantities, or you can order a small quantity at a higher price per yard.
Greige is an untreated woven or knitted fabric before it is bleached, dyed or printed.
Shrinkage is the process by which a piece of fabric becomes smaller than its original size, usually through the process of washing. Usually stated as a percentage, it is up to you to decide what your tolerance for shrinking the fabric is. By confirming the pre-production shrink rate, you can determine if you need to adjust the fitting specifications of a garment to account for the shrinkage. Find out more about shrinking fabrics here.
Materials for your clothing line that fits your business
Now that you have a better idea of the fabric sourcing process and common terminology, you can look at what other similar retailers are using for their products to gain a better understanding of the market.
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