Tips for Sourcing Quality Garments for Your Business

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 on following tips on sourcing garments.

I am often asked one question by small business owners and by would-be entrepreneurs - ‘How to 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 are applicable to any size of garment business that sourced garments from various manufacturers.

Sourcing Quality Garments
Clothing Store

Look at Fabric Quality 

Fabric is the primary raw material of garments. Garment quality in terms of hand feel, durability and look of a garment mostly depend on the fabric quality and fabric finishes. Secondly, cost of a design (style) depends on fabric quality as well. 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 category.

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 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 correct size label is attached to each garment is there. Stitching quality need 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 quality of prints and embroidery work. Check shade matching of print and embroidery thread colors, designs, fastness properties of the print etc.

Hire Quality Assurance Executive 

The best way to ensure sourcing of  good quality garments is having internal quality team. I mean hire someone to look after product quality. Even you can employ 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 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 quality of your designs. Don't compromise with product quality. Involve your QA in 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 garment manufacturing business quality of the garment is assured based on the standard reference. If you don't have anything to follow, it would be even difficult for your vendor to understand and following your quality requirement (quality standards). So, I would advise you to prepare your own Quality Manual first (with required quality standards). Quality manual that would include quality standard for fabrics, trims, construction procedure, tagging and labeling instruction, packing instruction for every product you source. Then understanding quality requirement and giving something for reference to your vendor would be easy.

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

Conclusion: Apparel designers, brand owners, e-commerce sites, and garment dealers, source their product from various suppliers and from different part of the country. These tips would be helpful in knowing the criteria for ensuring product quality of sourcing good products. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Image courtesy:

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. He lives in India. linkedin

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