The 3 Basic Ways to Source Fabric

Market sourcing is a common way many factories source fabrics to fulfill low minimum orders. These huge markets are common in major apparel manufacturing cities, and have extremely low minimums and fast turnaround. Sounds almost perfect doesn't it? Then why do we discourage brands from doing this? Because it causes a lot of uncertainty throughout the process which will cause delays and lead to an inferior product.

  • Fabric Selection: Finding fabric for inspiration is a huge component of the design process. By relying on market sourcing, you're essentially left hoping the markets have fabric you actually want. If you have a reference that you already love (for example from another garment) that you need market sourced because you can't meet the minimums to get the fabric custom made, you're almost certainly going to have to make concessions in color, design, or quality.
  • Fabric Availability: Being able to predict fabric availability for production is vital. If you've ever heard the horror stories of factories switching fabric or using the "wrong fabric" for production, it's almost certain the order quantity was small and the fabric was sourced from the open markets. Although the low minimums of market sourcing are enticing, since many of the fabrics are "stocked," once that fabric is out of stock, you (or your factory) will be forced to use a last minute replacement fabric.
  • Fabric Quality: The reality is most high quality fabric is not going to be found in the market. What you're typically left with are leftover fabric bolts, mill ends, or second tier fabrics.

The problems associated with open market sourcing are so big, we won't touch the stuff. If you need products with a fast turnaround or low minimums, we recommend you work directly with mills or wholesalers that specialize in stock fabric.

Are you currently dealing with a market sourcing horror story? Let us help you out - email us at

The 3 Basic Ways to Source Fabric
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