Fabric Sourcing Procedure for Export Orders

Garment manufacturing factories source fabric for garment sample development and for bulk production. In some orders fabric sourcing process start from the fabric development stage. On the other side when factories source fabric for the repeat order or basic types of fabrics doesn’t need to go for development. For small quantity, small size factories often source fabrics from fabric sourcing agents.

Fabric roll
Image courtesy: trueup.net
Other variation in sourcing procedure is found in sourcing for knitted and woven fabric. In this article bulk fabric sourcing procedure is explained. For the yarn dyed fabric woven and knitted fabrics additional processes are there.

Broadly fabric sourcing procedures can be categorised as

  • Finished fabric sourcing procedure 
  • Greige fabric sourcing procedure 
  • Yarn dyed fabric sourcing procedure
  • Knitted fabric sourcing procedure (greige yarns) 

1. Finished Fabric Sourcing Procedure (white or dyed)

While a factory directly source finished fabric from mills they usually follow below procedures

Research for fabric suppliers:
Fabric sourcing department research for available suppliers and shortlist some of them to work with for their fabrics.

Send fabric specification: 
Factory sends fabric sample or fabric specifications such as count and construction, GSM, weave structure and fabric width to the supplier.

Price negotiation and payment terms:
Fabric sourcing department requests for the best price quote from fabric supplier and negotiate for the best price. Negotiation is also done for delivery lead time. Once cost negotiation is done, factory confirm supplier for lap-dip development.

Lap-dip approval: 
Fabric supplier develops sample for multiple shades as per required colors and send to factory for approval of most appropriate shade. Factory merchant sends those lap-dips to buyers or buying agents for approval.

Raising fabric demand note:
Factory merchants calculate average fabric consumption and raise fabric demand note for the complete order. Fabric demand note is approved by authorized person and handed over to sourcing department for further processing.

Raise PO for bulk order: 
Factory sends purchase order (PO) to the fabric supplier. In some cases supplier ask for advanced payment (part of total invoice).

Received fabric delivery: 
Fabric supplier sends fabric to the factory fabric store in roll or than form.

Quality and quantity checking:
Once fabrics are received, factory checks for quantity and quality of the fabric whether those are as per requirement. Quality means fabric properties such as shrinkage, dimensional stability, fabric weaving and processing defects etc. In case there is variation factory intimate fabric supplier and send back for reprocessing if required. Or raise a debit note if fabric quality is poor than the quality ordered at the time of contract.

Fabric approval for bulk production: Fabrics passed in quality inspection and testing are stored for bulk cutting. For some apparel buyers finished fabric lots need to be approved from buyers.

Payment is sent to the fabric supplier: Factory releases final payment for the fabric supplier once fabric is found ok.

2. Greige Fabric Sourcing Procedure

To save money in processing (wet processing) medium and large size garment manufacturers (export houses) source greige fabric from mills or power looms instead of the finished fabric. They process greige fabric on their own. So, there is a small variation in fabric sourcing procedure than the procedure explained above.

From the development of fabric supplier to price negotiation are same as the above. Factory sources greige fabric instead of the finished fabric. So, prior to use fabric for garment production, fabrics are processed. Fabric sourcing department sends greige fabrics to dyeing mills for wet processing (scouring, bleaching, dyeing or printing). Lap-dip approval is done in prior to bulk dyeing. Once lap-dip is approved by the buyer, factory confirm for bulk dyeing. Finished fabrics are in-housed follow rests of the procedures as explained above. 

3. Yarn Dyed Fabric Sourcing Procedure

There is slight variation in sourcing procedures when garment factory sources yarn dyed fabrics. Instead of lap-dip factory develops bit loom for fabric design (weave of checks or stripes). Colours of the dyed yarns are approved in fabric. Rests of the procedures is the same as the above.

4. Knitted Fabric Sourcing Procedure

Like the above knitted fabrics are also sourced as the finished fabric (dyed or yarn-dyed). The small variation found in knitted fabric like some factories source greige yarns instead greige fabric and get knitting done by their own. Rests of the processes are similar to the above.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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