How to Start a Clothing Line With Custom Manufacturing

Alex Galindo

6 mins read

how to start a clothing line

You’ve probably read our blog on custom manufacturing and its advantages for your dream clothing brand. And if you’re quite serious about launching your own apparel line, it’s time to dig deeper into the nitty-gritty of this process and understand the steps involved.

Here’s your ultimate step-by-step guide to custom manufacturing:

Step 1: Find the Right Custom Manufacturer for You

Working with the right custom manufacturer makes all the difference in the apparel world. After all, you won’t really be involved in the actual production process aside from the design, so you have to be sure that you’re working with a reliable partner who truly understands and respects your vision. You need to be able to trust and rely on your manufacturer for quality, cost-efficiency, and timely delivery of the apparel pieces.

Identify which step of the entire process you’re at so you can decide what you want your manufacturer to help you with. Once you know what services you’ll need, you’ll be able to find the right manufacturer based on the steps they can assist you with.

Step 2: Design Your Product

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Image from

This is what will make your apparel brand stand out from the rest. Put your own spin on classic styles, or invent a completely new outfit design that no one else has seen before. Just be sure to consider how each piece plays into your overall brand aesthetic and identity.

Will you be selling mostly shirts with graphics, or will you also have some more minimal designs? Are your pieces meant to be worn on a night out, or at the beach? Do you want your designs printed, or embroidered? All these questions will help you create unique, signature pieces that define your brand.

Once you have a good idea of what you want to design, create a tech pack that includes detailed drawings and specifications of the product. This will help your manufacturer understand exactly what you’re looking for, so they can create something that matches your exact vision.

Step 3: Fabric Sourcing

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If you want a more hands-on approach, you can source the fabric yourself. This is often a much more cost-effective way to produce your apparel, since it eliminates the middleman and puts you directly in touch with the material suppliers.

Be sure to check out different fabric options and compare their quality, color, cost, and availability. You’ll also need to consider the environmental impact of the fabrics you choose and make sure that they are sourced sustainably.

If you don’t want to be involved in the fabric sourcing process, you can just give your manufacturer a list of requirements and have them handle it.

Sample Fabric Yardage

Of course, you’ll need to see how the fabric looks and feels before you commit to it. This is why it’s important to order sample fabric yardage and examine each fabric swatch closely.

Once you’ve received the samples, compare them side-by-side to see which one best matches your vision and requirements. If you’re happy with the swatch, then you can move forward with placing your order for bulk fabric yardage.

Step 4: Develop Your Pattern

what is a pattern clothing manufacturing, what is a pattern for manufacturer
Image from Garments Arena

The next step in the custom manufacturing process is to develop your pattern. This involves taking the measurements of your design, creating a paper template, and then cutting and sewing the fabric to create a prototype.

You’ll need to be precise with your measurements, so it’s important to double-check everything before you start cutting the fabric. Once you have your prototype, examine it closely to see if you need to make any changes or adjustments. there are any changes or adjustments that need to be made.

If you’re working with an experienced manufacturer, then they should be able to guide you through the pattern development process and make any necessary tweaks.

Step 5: Ordering Samples

Once your products have been patterned, the next step is to get samples made. Again, it’s important to inspect these samples thoroughly before you place your bulk order. Check to make sure that the fabric, color, and measurements are all correct, and that there are no flaws or imperfections.

Your First Prototype

If all is well, then you can go ahead and place your order for your first prototype. This will be the final result that you’ll send to your customers, so it’s important to make sure that there are no mistakes.

Fit Sample

Since we’re talking about apparel here, you have to make sure that your products will look and feel great when they’re worn. This is why it’s so important to order a fit sample and have someone try on the garment before you go into production.

For men’s and women’s garments, it’s a good idea to order samples in a range of sizes. This will help you make sure that the fit is consistent across all sizes and that there aren’t any strange sizing issues. If you have models of varying body types, you can also use them to do a fit test of the samples.

Revise or Approve Samples

Once you’ve sampled and done fittings, it’s time to decide whether you’re happy with them or not. If there are any issues, then you can revise the samples and have them sent back for another round of testing.

Pre-Production Sample

Once you’ve addressed all the issues and you’re happy with the sample, it’s time to move on to pre-production. This is when your manufacturer will create a sample that is the same as the bulk order.

This sample is to make sure that all measurements, colors, and quality are right before the bulk order is made. So be sure to inspect this sample closely and don’t make any compromises with quality or fit.

Step 6: Figure Out Quantities You Want To Order

The last step in the custom apparel manufacturing process is to determine how many pieces you want to order. Your budget will play a big role in this decision, as well as how many pieces you estimate you’ll sell. Doing an interest check with your customers can help you get a better understanding of what quantities are realistic.

Once you’ve decided on the quantities, your custom apparel manufacturer will be able to provide you with an accurate quote.

Tips for Success

While there are dozens or even hundreds of small brands who are already succeeding in the custom apparel space, it can still be a bit daunting for those who are just starting out. Here are some tips that all aspiring apparel entrepreneurs should keep in mind:

Your Commitment Matters

The custom manufacturing process requires a lot of commitment, so you have to be sure that you’re up for the challenge before taking the plunge. Unlike selling mass-produced, privately labeled apparel, custom manufacturing requires more input from you as the designer, so it’s important to be prepared for the extra work.

Work With a Reliable Manufacturer

Your choice of custom manufacturer can make or break your success. So make sure that you do your due diligence and work with one who has experience in producing the type of apparel you want to create. The best manufacturers will be willing to communicate openly and answer any of your questions.

Make Sure Your Ordering Process is Seamless

Whether you’ll solely be selling online or have a physical retail space as well, be sure that your ordering process is as seamless and user-friendly as possible. Make sure all sizes and colors are clearly displayed and that customers can easily navigate the checkout page. You wouldn’t want any potential customers to abandon their carts because of a complicated checkout process.

Marketing is Key

Marketing is an essential part of any successful apparel business, so make sure that you do your research and come up with a solid marketing plan. See how brands in your chosen niche are reaching their audiences and use those insights to create your own campaigns. Building relationships with influencers is also a great way to get more eyes on your brand.

Get to Know Your Customers

Aside from the market research you’ve conducted in the early stages, it’s important to get to know your own customers and their preferences on a more personal level. This is especially the case for small brands that are just starting out. Building a loyal and passionate customer base can help your brand gain traction in the long run.

Be Open to Making Changes

Once the orders start coming in, it’s important to stay open to feedback and make changes whenever necessary. Your customers will be your best source of product improvement ideas, so take their advice seriously. This will help you gain more customers and show that your brand is dedicated to providing the best experience possible.

Quality is Everything

At the end of the day, custom apparel manufacturing is all about quality. Take your time to review each step of the process. Make sure that your manufacturer is using the best quality materials, construction techniques, and processes. Your goal should be to create apparel pieces that are built to last.

Ready, Set, Sell!

That’s a wrap! We hope this guide has given you all the necessary info to get started in custom apparel manufacturing. Just remember that quality, commitment, and customer satisfaction are key to success, so keep that in mind as you embark on your apparel journey. You’ll be surprised at just how far your brand can go!

Are you ready to take your clothing brand to the next level? Awkward Styles offers A-Z custom manufacturing services, from design to delivery. Contact us today to learn more about how we can bring your vision to life with our expert custom manufacturing services.

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