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fabric Fashion 101

FYI Friday: Fabric

As promised, we’re coming at you on this fine Friday to have a little chat about fabric.

Fabric selection is a kind of important when you’re in the design phase of your project.

It’s also where I run into some setbacks and ??’s from clients, mostly due to the lack of understanding surrounding the process of sourcing fabric. So, I am hoping to clear up a few hazy spots regarding the subject.

Sourcing the right fabric is not easy or quick. Most companies spend months sourcing. They spend $$ going to trade shows. As a project manager, when I am sourcing fabric there are a lot of factors I have to consider when selecting options:

  • Fabric content Does the client have certain specifications for what they want their fabric to consist of? Recycled poly? Merino wool? Does it need a special finish?
  • Fabric weight You have to take into consideration the end product. If the fabric needs to have a slinky drape, it cannot weigh the same as your bottom-weight fabric selections.
  • Minimums. This is a big one. For the majority of start-up brands, I highly recommend using fabrics that are stocked, or that are readily available at the mill or wholesaler. That’s because it is tough to find a fabric that you can customize (with your own color or print) at a low enough minimum to make sense for your project. So, mills will sometimes “stock” fabric that are purchasable per roll, as opposed to having thousands of yards as minimums if you want to customize. A lot of times, mills will stock best-selling fabrics in colors relevant to the season.
  • If you choose to do custom colors or prints, you must understand there will be fees involved, especially if you are not hitting the minimum order quantity (MOQ). You will run into weaving charges, general surcharges for falling below MOQ, and dye charges.
  • Price needs to be considered as well. You can’t be buying a $20/yd fabric if you are trying to retail your product for $69.

The Big Question: Where Can I Source Fabrics?

The Big Answer: Hire a pro.

Unless you have time to go to trade shows, or run all over LA or NYC to meet with fabric vendors that may or may not have what you are actually looking for, hire someone who can understand what your specific needs are and send you some selects.

A good sourcing agent should be able to navigate the parameters previously mentioned and provide fabric solutions.

The Casual Brand Creative is here to help you with any fabric sourcing needs. We have beautiful relationships with mills all over the globe and are confident we can be a great tool for your project. If you have any specific questions, email us at: Create@thecasualbrandcreative.com and we will guide you in the right direction.

Happy Friday!

Categories
Fashion 101

FYI Friday: Vocab Pt 2: Production Abbreviations To Know

This Friday, I am offering a list of some high-level production terms that you should take note of.

  • SKU – stock keeping unit (each style has it’s own special unit number in order to keep track of the style throughout seasons)
  • CAD – computer aided design (for sketching, tech packing, etc)
  • QC – quality control (post production, when you or someone you hire looks over the goods to ensure they are made as per your contract and design, and that the quality is acceptable for shipping)
  • L/D – lab dip (a test dip of a customer color you plan to use for a fabrication)
  • S/O – strike-off (a print test)
  • WIP – work in progress (a WIP report ensures you stay organized and stay on task/on calendar with your production goals)
  • K/D: – knit-down ( a swatch knitted up to test specific knits you want, for sweaters etc)
  • PP – pre-production (a sample will be sent to you before beginning production to ensure all specs, components, etc are correct before cutting the bulk fabric)
  • TOP – top of production (production has begun, and this sample you will receive reflects how the rest of the production will turn out)
  • SY – sample yardage
  • SMS – salesman/photo sample

Running production can be a daunting task – it takes great attention to detail and organization.

Casual Brand Creative offers production management, and we are here to answer any questions you may have!

Happy Friday!

Categories
A Kick in the Ass Fashion 101

Things To Consider When Starting Your Brand

I want you to have your fashion brand dreams realized.

I do.

I want you to have all of the creative fun putting together what your first line or product will look like. To feel the fabrics, create patterns and colors that you’ve dreamed about. To see the designs that have been sitting in the back of your mind realized, down on paper, rendered.

I want you to feel the accomplishment that comes with learning about the process and work that goes into building a physical garment.

I want you to build a brand that will one day be profitable, and sustainable.

I want you to have a really great time at your first photo shoot with YOUR product being shot!

I want to sip that champagne with you when you receive your first orders, be it online or through a wholesale account.

I want all of these things for you.

But in order to do any of these things, there are a lot of things to seriously consider before you decide to jump in and commit. And commitment is the baseline.

A few key considerations to reflect on before committing to starting your apparel line

Money

I feel like this should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people I speak with come to me wanting to build a product and brand without any real financial commitment to the project.

This is not to say you need to be a millionaire to start something. Different projects will require different financial commitments. If you are starting off with 1 sock design, you will not need as much money prepared as for, say, someone looking to build a 10-piece collection. Which brings me to…

Product Range

How many items are you looking to start out with at the outset? You should have a solid idea of what it is exactly that you want to do.

One thing to note, is that you do not need to have a huge collection to start off. In fact, I work with a lot of individuals looking to launch 1-2 products in the beginning. And that is totally fine. I will say, however, that those 1-2 products should be the best in their category if that is the product that you will announce to the world as your brand.

Time

Cliche but true: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your line be.

If you are sampling and producing in the US, you can expect sampling to take around 1 month for 1 sample (and usually you will need at least 2-3 rounds of sampling, depending on the complexity of the garment). Production will usually take around 10-12 weeks.

If you are sampling and producing in the overseas, you can expect sampling to take around 2-3 weeks for 1 sample (and usually you will need at least 2-3 rounds of sampling, depending on the complexity of the garment). Production will usually take around 3 months.

Production Minimums

You will be har-pressed to find a quality manufacturer to make 50 units of one style for you.

Prepare for at least a 100-300 style minimum order requirement. And that usually covers 1 color.

So, of your minimum order requirement for 1 style is 100 units, and you want to offer 2 colorways, prepare to order 200 units for that particular style.

Calendar

As a brand, you need to consider the calendar when beginning design. If you want to be in the wholesale business to sell to retailers, you will be on a less flexible calendar than someone who is doing a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business. Buyers buy at certain times throughout the year to fulfill their seasonal inventory needs, so if you want to sell to them, your collection needs to be ready to show at specific dates.

If you’ve considered all of these points and are confident that it’s time to move to the next step, I encourage you to reach out to us at create@thecasualbrandcreative.com.

And even if you’re not confident…we’re here for that to!

Categories
Uncategorized

Sample Making 101

Once you have finalized the sketches, tech packs, and fabric sourcing portion of your design phase, the next step toward your end goal is to have some samples made of the product you are intending to produce and sell.

Clients tend to have a lot of questions once we get to this point. I see a lot of confusion surrounding sample-making. So, I am hoping I can clear up a little but of the confusion by going over the top 5 questions I am always asked:

Q: Who makes my samples?

A: Not me, personally. Though I wish I was equipped to own every sort of machinery used to make your product into a wearable garment, I do not (and, even if I did have all the awesome machines, I suck at sewing). This is why we here at CBC tap into our curated network of sample-makers to get the job done. We decide which vendor will be best for your project, and have them get to work! Preferably, we will partner with a sample-maker who is also able to run your production. The benefit here is twofold: 1) they will understand the product we are producing right off the bat and 2) we would not need to run costing exercises with multiple partners after the samples are made.

Q: When does sampling take place?

A: Here’s the process: a) The sketch/design/tech packs are approved b) fabric and trim sourcing is complete and sample yardage has been ordered (*Note: trim sourcing can be an ongoing element and is not 100% necessary to be finalized before the sampling stage, though you should have a good idea of the type of trims you want to be used in the end product). (c) Samples are made once sampling materials are received.

Q: What does it cost?

A: There is literally no way to guess at what your samples will cost. If you go to someone and ask for a cost for a design without, at the very least, a tech pack, run the other way. Unless, of course, you are working with a pattern/sample maker directly.

Q: What happens after the first sample is made:

A: Once the first sample is made, we will fit the sample on a body/model that you have chosen to be your fit standard. It is important to note that there are usually about 2-3 rounds of sampling necessary to get to your desired fit and design. Once we have a final fit, we can move to the next stage, which is production!

Categories
Fashion 101

FYI Friday: A Vocab Lesson

This just in: in addition to all of my services offered, I am also teacher extraordinaire.

More often than not I work with clients that have no clue about anything in the industry (which is great for me, because it’s always fun to teach new things to people!).

So, this week for FYI Friday I put together a list of “apparel industry words/terms” that anyone thinking of starting a brand should know, in regards to process. Happy Learning!

  • Tech Pack – I get asked what, exactly, this is a lot. A tech pack is basically a Bible for your manufacturing partner. It will have all the details regarding any given style you are creating, such as: sketch, color, print, fabric information, construction detailing, measurement specifications, sizing/grading information, trim information, stitch info. Every detail about the garment should be outlined in a tech pack.
  • Bill Of Materials – This will be part of your tech pack. This will outline all of the fabric and trims you are using on your garment.
  • Sample Maker – A sample maker is just that- a person who makes a 1st, 2nd, 3rd sample of your garment. They may or may not be the same person who will be running your actual production. It depends on their capacity.
  • Grading – Grading is when you create the size range you want for your garment. From the base sample size (say, size M) a grader (or your tech packer) will determine the adjustments needed for each pattern in order to have different sizes of the same garment. For example, sizes XS-XL.
  • Pattern – Yes, sometimes I get asked what this is. I am not referring to the pretty floral pattern of your shirt. That shirt didn’t just pop out of no where – it started from a paper (or digital) pattern. In order to know where to cut and how to sew the garment, one must follow a pattern to do so. Like baking star-shaped cookies. You need to use a cookie-cutter (pattern) in order to get the correct shape of the star, yes? Same thing for a shirt (albeit a little more complicated than pressing a shape into dough).

These are a handful of terms I get asked about on a regular basis, so we will start here.

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into the actual process if design & production.

Happy Friday!