Top Fabric Sourcing Misconceptions

tip fabric sourcing misconceptions

Are you aware of the fabric sourcing misconceptions in the fashion industry?

There’s actually many that people aren’t aware of. Today we’re going to talk about the top misconceptions revolving around fabric sourcing. Let’s dive in!

#1: The Amount Of Time It Takes

Fabric sourcing is one of the most difficult parts of the entire puzzle of trying to start a fashion line. It’s not something that’s very easy and it’s not something that’s done very quickly. It’s not like you can just go to a bunch of fabric vendors in one day and get everything done and then everything is all good to go. It can take weeks, even months, depending on the type of fabric that you’re looking for and how difficult it is to find at the price point that you needed at. Thi is especially the case when you are a new upcoming designer because those price points are super important and it’s important to know what your price point is before you even start searching for fabric.  Also, a lot of times when you go to these fabric vendors, they are not going to be able to give you all the answers to all of your questions right away. Most of the time they are going to have to go back to the mill and the mill is normally overseas which means it takes time for them to get back to your fabric vendor because of the time difference – and so on and so forth. Thus, it really can take a long amount of time so just be realistic with this. Don’t expect that after two weeks you are going to have all of your fabrics down pack. You may find something and then it doesn’t match something else, then you have to go back to another fabric vendor again and look at fabrics all over again. It’s a long, time-consuming process so please give yourself enough time for the process.

#2: The Amount Of Organization It Takes

There’s a ton of information that you need to know in order to properly source your fabrics. Things like: width, weight, the minimum, the price, and is the price FOB or CIF – meaning does it include the shipping or does it not include the shipping – all of these things that you need to know when you’re sourcing your fabrics. Now there are over nine specific questions that you definitely want to be sure you ask every time you’re sourcing fabrics and all of them are included on my free fabric sourcing guide here. You may not get all of your information that you need from these nine questions in one shot – often times the fabric vendors are going to give you it in pieces. Therefore at the end of the day you’re going to have to follow-up with them to make sure that you get all of your answers and keep track of everything. What I like to do is write the information down on the header of the swatch that I receive from them or even if it’s a lot of information, I will just print out the email and staple or tape the email to the header. Now while you’re working and designing, you literally have all the information right there in front of you. It is going to save you so much time and so much headache later on. If you’re sourcing a very specific type of fabric and you’ve been searching through various different vendors, you might even want to create an Excel chart for yourself and literally put the vendor name, the price, the width, the weight, what’s included – all of that stuff so that you can really keep track of it. Moral of the story – stay organized!

#3: Being Able To Find Any Fabric Looked For

I see a lot of new designers think that they can just find anything in the world because they have seen it out there and it exists. If you’re a large company sure, no problem, I can get you any fabric that you want. But for small, new upcoming designers, it is much more limiting. Not everyone is willing to work with you. You can’t afford every type of fabric out there.  A lot of the minimums are just way too high for you, so your options are going to be limited and you don’t want to make the mistake of sketching out your entire line and then trying to find a fabric and not being able to find it. Therefore what most professional designers do is they fabric source first and then they design into the fabrics that they have purchased. I recently had a client of mine do an entire line based around these two prints and then she wasn’t able to find the two prints and I told her in the beginning it’s not a good idea to work this way and this is why because now she has to start all over again. So please don’t make this mistake, it’s better to search for your fabrics first and then design and do them. It is going to be a lot harder if you try to do it the other way around.  

#4: Using The Wrong Fabric To Be Market-Ready

Many new designers use a fabric they’re not 100% happy with just to be able to make their samples in time for market. They rush because they want to hit a certain timeframe or they want to hit a certain market week and launch their line in a certain time and they’re using fabric that they’re not 100% happy with. I just had a client that did this and basically when the buyer saw the line, they all pretty much said they didn’t like the fabric and now she has to literally start all over sourcing fabric again. It’s really important that you don’t make this mistake and it’s really just not worth it in the end guys. It’s better to just be happy with your fabric choice from the beginning and try to rush and get everything done and then have to start all over again the following season. Plus if you have already approached buyers and they don’t like your line because of the fabric, then it’s not going to work. She just lost her chance at possibly getting those buyers to come back again the following season because now they’ve already seen her line and they don’t like the fabric. They might not come back again the following season and even take a chance at looking at her line. Thus it’s crucial that you are 100% happy with your fabrics from the beginning and that you kind of do everything the right way instead of trying to rushing just to be at a certain market week or a certain deadline.  

#5: Choosing a Fabric That Will Be Available When Needed

No – they will not be available and not everything is always available. Hardly anything is usually available. You must ask upfront if the fabric is a continuous fabric, meaning it is something that the fabric vendor always stocks. If it’s not in stock, how much do you have to order? This is a really important question to ask, how much do you have to order in order to get it back in stock or is it something that they replenish and how often do they replenish it? You need to know all of these things. It’s super important when you are fabric sourcing, you want to make sure that those fabrics are going to be continuous. I had another client of mine that did an entire line of garments a year ago and now she can’t get two of the fabrics from the line and has to start all over sourcing new fabrics and making those garments all over again because she can’t get those fabrics anymore. It’s crucial that the fabrics that you choose are continuous fabrics and you can get them if it’s a year later or possibly even two years later. You don’t want to spend another $500 to make another sample just because you can’t get the fabric again. Especially if you’re using those African prints that are around the market, a lot of those companies run out of those prints really fast. You constantly have to be checking if it’s in stock and I always try to avoid having to purchase fabric upfront. I don’t want you purchasing whole roles upfront, that’s another big mistake unless you absolutely have to because you want to sell that stuff first. You don’t want to have inventory of fabric and then not be able to use it for something later on.  

#6: Five Options Of One Fabric Is Enough

Five options is definitely not enough. When I used to work in the industry and I had to source fabrics, I wouldn’t even dare go to my boss unless I had at least a minimum of 20 different fabrics to show her for one type of fabric that we were sourcing. If we were sourcing a lace for instance – a specific lace like a Clooney lace or something that was for a specific style, I wouldn’t even dare go to her unless I had like 20 options because there’s just so many different variables. Something could be 95 polyester, 5 spandex, and anywhere from 230 to 250 GSM. Then the fabrics can completely range in hand feel and traceability and retention. There are so many things in the construction of the fabric that can change and are different variables, so it’s good to have options. Additionally, cost is going to be a huge factor for all of you because you are new and you’re just starting out and so you want to be able to make sure that you’re getting the lowest cost.  Bottom line – just get as many options as you possibly can.

These are the main six different pitfalls and mistakes to avoid when you’re searching for fabrics. Any other questions, definitely contact us below. Also, don’t forget to download your free fabric sourcing guide!

Fashion Consultant Christine Daal

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