Guidelines for Sourcing Quality Garments for Apparel Retail Business

Procuring Quality garments

So, you are in the apparel business. And you are sourcing garments from various garment factories. Or are you just planning to start your dream business in the garment industry? Read the following guidelines on sourcing garments.

I have often been asked this question by small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs - ‘How do you know that vendors are supplying quality garments?’

To help them out I have shared a few tips on how to know that you are getting quality garments. These tips apply to any size of garment business that sources garments from various manufacturers.

Check the Fabric Quality (Raw material)

Fabric is the primary raw material of garments. Garment quality in terms of hand feel, durability and look of a garment mostly depends on the fabric quality and fabric finishes. Secondly, the cost of a design (style) depends on fabric quality as well. The comfort of a garment depends on the fibre content and fabric construction. So, you must know what fabric is used or going to be used for your order.

Ask your vendor for fabric details as much as possible. You can ask your vendors to provide you Fabric Testing Certificate from any reputed consumer testing labs. Just for your knowledge, check fabric GSM, Fabric Count and Construction, fabric shrinkage to washing, and fibre contents. For the coloured fabrics, printed designs check colourfastness to washing.

Note: Fabric testing parameters (test requirements) would vary based on fabric types (woven and knits) and product categories.

Check Garment FIT

Give priority on checking garment fit. There is no use of your designs if it does not fit well to your customers. Though you don't need to know much about fit, you just need to refer your measurement sheet (specification sheet) and cross-check garment measurements. This process should not be avoided. Also, check the overall look of the design.

Check Stitching Quality (construction) 

Stitching defects should not be allowed in garments. There are many possible defects in garments. Like broken stitches, uncut threads etc. Check that the correct size label is attached to each garment is there. Stitching quality needs to be checked. Also, check for fabric defects in garments.

Conduct Visual Inspection 

You customers would buy your design if they like the appearance of the product and packaging (in some cases). The fact is that consumers (your customers) do not know much about stitching quality. But you should not accept any visible defects on garments. You must do visual inspection for each order (sample based inspection) prior to accepting order.

Check Quality for Value Added Process(es) 

If your product has print or/and embroidery design (or logo) then check the quality of prints and embroidery work. Check shade matching of print and embroidery thread colors, designs, fastness properties of the print etc.

Hire a Quality Assurance Executive 

The best way to ensure the sourcing of good quality garments is to have an internal quality team. I mean hire someone to look after product quality. Even you can employ a QA who can check all quality aspects from the beginning of production and finally inspect packed goods. This way you can get quality garments.

When you need to source a small quantity of garments for a particular design, possibly big suppliers would not entertain you. And you know that sourcing from small suppliers (and unorganized) means compromising with the quality of your designs. Don't compromise with product quality. Involve your QA in the sourcing process and send him to factories to check quality at every process and finally pick quality products from your small suppliers.

Develop Your Quality Manual 

In the garment manufacturing business, the product quality of the garment is assured based on the standard reference. If you don't have anything to follow, it would be even more difficult for your vendor to understand and follow your quality requirements (quality standards). So, I would advise you to prepare your own Quality Manual first (with the required quality standards). Quality manual that would include quality standards for fabrics, trims, construction procedures, tagging and labeling instructions, and packing instructions for every product you source. Then understanding quality requirements and giving something for reference to your vendor would be easy.

You don't need to make your Quality Manual right the first time and don't need to make it complete from day one. Start developing it today, add things, and revise every time you learn something new. After sourcing a few orders you will learn many things by making mistakes.


Apparel designers, fashion brand owners, e-commerce websites, and garment dealers source their products from various suppliers from different parts of the country. These tips will help to know the criteria for ensuring product quality for procuring high-quality apparel products. I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found helpful guides.

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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