If you’ve ever been frustrated with finding the right fabric and sourcing partner, you’re not alone. The process can be tedious, and its mostly due to the sheer number of vendors and specialties required to make all the apparel products you see in the market today. However, based on our experiences we’ve seen four primary ways brands are finding the fabric vendors:
- Factory Sourced: Factory sourced means your cut & sew manufacturer is also responsible for the sourcing of your materials. Typically, the factory will work with fabric mills directly in their network to source your fabrics. This is often the easiest approach since you’ll get better pricing because the factory already purchases from them, as well as the ease of not having to manage another vendor during the production process. However, the selection of fabric is often more limited unless you want to custom make your materials.
- Trade Shows: There are dozens of trade shows each year specifically for sourcing fabric and trim. These shows are typically free, and a great way to evaluate a lot of vendors at the same time. Trade shows are also a great way get exposed to different fabrics during your design process.
- Referrals: Know someone in the industry? Ask them for a referral to fabric vendors they’ve used in the past.
- Internet Search: Lastly, you can always search the internet for resources on sourcing fabric. The Cotton Inc website is a great tool for finding cotton based fabric vendors. If all else fails, there's always trusty ole’ Google. Many vendors aren't the most tech savvy though, so don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call them.
Although finding fabric vendors isn’t easy, it's an essential part of the design process. So take the time, find the right vendors, and start designing!