Yes. You can start a clothing line in the USA using Chinese contractors. Using contractors in China to start a clothing line is a very good idea. The world has become very interested in Chinese clothing, shoes, and accessories, and their unique selection of soft colors.
For many years, clothing manufacturers and contractors from China have become a viable option for fashion entrepreneurs, and a good number of these contractors can be found online. According to reports, China accounts for almost 60% of clothes in the world. Also note that numerous designer brands like Burberry, Armani, and Prada have OEM factories in China.
China clothing contractors are popular for their low-cost labor and also increasing product quality. Note that within China, there are over 44,000 companies that specialize in textile and apparel manufacturing. However, although there are thousands, you must pick the legitimate one.
Reports have it that clothing industrial clusters in China are mainly found around the Yangtze Delta and Pearl River Delta. If you intend to work with a contractor in China, you should seek one that is located in the industrial clusters.
Also, note that the quality of your materials will depend on the type of contractor you are working with. If the contractor is a professional and has a good service record, the quality of goods will most definitely be higher than a less legitimate and professional one.
How to Start a Clothing Line Using a Chinese Contractor
Finding a clothing contractor that suits your requirements can be quite challenging. However, here are steps to help you achieve your aim of starting a clothing line with a Chinese contractor.
Table of Content
- Choose a niche and develop a concept
- Create a tech pack
- Get a cut sheet
- Find your perfect China clothing contractor
- Convey concepts or send your samples
- Make a pre-production sample
- Arrange mass production
- Quality inspection & arrange shipment
- Lower purchasing costs
- State-of-the-art manufacturing processes and production skill sets
- Efficient supply chain capabilities
- Experience with product manufacturing
- Not recommended for startup businesses
- Difficulties in communication
- Low product quality
- Longer shipping times and cost
- Chinese B2B Websites
- Sourcing Agent
- Trade Fairs
- Industrial Clusters/China Wholesale Markets
Choose a niche and develop a concept
This is without doubt the first thing to do when looking to start a clothing line. You will need to take your time to put together your design thoughts and also visualize your product. Create a few sketches for various versions of your products and put together concepts from current designs.
Create a tech pack
Have it in mind that a tech pack is a vital factor in how you get to manufacture clothing products. It is more or less a design record made up of sketches and specifications of the proposed apparel product. It is important to ensure that the products, trims, and components are on the top of the list. Your potential contractors can consult these components when they are ready for manufacturing
Get a cut sheet
Once you are done with choosing a niche and creating the tech pack, note that you will also need to get a cut sheet. According to experts, it improves the system and details all the dimensions of your product. Also remember to inculcate your apparel product’s length, width, height, or thickness.
Additionally, create a suggestion for the measurements of specific sizes so the potential contractor will have a clean set of orders. You would not want your contractor to guess measurements when manufacturing your products.
Find your perfect China clothing contractor
Although there are many Chinese contractors you can work with, it can be quite challenging to know where to find the ideal one that suits your business. There are numerous ways to find a China clothing contractor. You can try online B2B marketplaces in China, and you can also choose to use third-party agencies.
Convey concepts or send your samples
After you must have found your contractor, you will need to let them know your customization requirements for clothing. You should select several suppliers (at least 2-3 suppliers) to show your sample. If you can’t draw the design manuscript, you can send the customization clothes’ picture to the contractor directly.
Ensure to give them as much information as you can. If you have a tech sheet, forward it to them. Also, give them fabric swatches and all the research you have done for your collection. The contractor should get back to you very quickly and tell you if they can produce your items. Then select the most suitable one to cooperate with according to their quotation, communication, etc.
Make a pre-production sample
Once you have settled on a contractor, they will send you a sample for you to check the pattern and material. Most often, the contractor will charge you for the sample, but after you place an order, the sample fee will be refunded. Have it in mind that a good number of Chinese clothing contractors fail at making samples.
Around 30-50% of suppliers fail at producing quality samples. This will help you weed out the ones that cannot come up to your expectations. Just as was noted above, you should ask around 3 or 4 suppliers to produce samples at the same time. While you might think this is expensive, it will help you make the right choice.
Arrange mass production
If you are satisfied with the samples, you can then ask the contractor to process your order. Now would also be the right time to negotiate the terms between you both. Truth be told, you will have little or no bargaining power at the first order.
However, if you increase your production line, you can get better terms. Also, remember to sign a contract as it will prevent any disputes between both of you. Make sure you explicitly note the specs of your product and compliance regulations – or the order is null and void.
Quality inspection & arrange shipment
Always remember that manufacturing is not a science. Quality issues are bound to occur, maybe to a varying degree. While quality issues cannot be entirely avoided, note that they can be managed and reduced to a degree that it doesn’t affect your profit margins.
Always remember that the quality inspection follows a properly stated checklist, and can either be based on your checklist or a standard clothing and textiles checklist provided by the inspection agency. However, it is recommended you first draft your checklist, and request the inspection agency to add their standardized tests.
Pros and Cons of Using Chinese Contractors
Numerous benefits and disadvantages come with using Chinese contractors to start your clothing line. They include;
Lower purchasing costs
China is renowned for its abundant and cheap labor. Owing to that, clothing factories in China can offer you some of the best rates when making your products. Note that it is easier to work with Chinese clothes contractors even when you inculcate the shipping fees and customs tax. In addition, you can have more price choices and choose a more competitive one as there are many similar contractors in the same district.
State-of-the-art manufacturing processes and production skill sets
Contractors in China know that their clients will need a large number of garments in short timeframes. Owing to this, they tend to invest heavily in processes and technology to meet this demand. It allows them to scale at an accelerated pace.
Efficient supply chain capabilities
China is noted as one of the most developed countries especially when it comes to supply chain capabilities. Clothing contractors in China are known to deliver goods in a timely fashion. A good number of them also offer full-service packages to further assist clients in reducing supply chain costs.
Experience with product manufacturing
China is also very well-noted for its deep history in garment or clothing manufacturing. Have it in mind that the country boast of contractors with expert knowledge in creating apparel in various styles and materials to facilitate your clothing line design requirements.
Not recommended for startup businesses
It’s not wise for a new start-up to work with clothing contractors in China. Although aligning with contractors in China is good especially when you are looking to customize the clothes according to your need, have in mind that these contractors tend to set a high MOQ to cover their production costs.
And since you can’t judge if the clothes you sell will get an active market reaction at first, cooperating with clothes manufacturers is most often ideal for growing businesses or mature businesses.
Difficulties in communication
Also note that the language of China can be very difficult to understand, and not everyone can hire a translator. Note that if you have questions to discuss with your Chinese contractor, you will generally need to hire a translator.
Low product quality
It’s also vital to note that the quality of the products from your Chinese clothing contractor might not be as high a contractor in the United States. In addition, have it in mind that the working conditions in these factories might be unregulated.
Longer shipping times and cost
Another potential disadvantage of using a Chinese contractor is that you will have to contend with longer shipping times. In addition, shipping costs will be more expensive, especially when compared to domestic manufacturers.
How Do You Find Chinese Manufacturers?
It can be quite challenging to find a good Chinese manufacturer for your clothing line. Most clothing manufacturers in China do not have a website and you can’t just look them up online. However, there are different channels for you to choose from. They include;
Chinese B2B Websites
Note that this is one of the best ways to find Chinese clothing manufacturers. Truth be told, a good number of these website platforms are ridden with resellers and middlemen. In addition, you won’t be dealing with the factory face-top-face.
However, you must always seek to do business with the person who owns the factory – or at least someone who is genuinely part of the operation. The commonly-used platforms include Alibaba, DHgate, AliExpress, Made in China, Global Sources, etc.
Aside from these platforms noted above, you can also choose to work with a China sourcing agent. These agents will help you find suitable China clothes manufacturers, which you can hardly find on B2B websites. Additionally, they can also help you follow up the production, inspect product quality, arrange the shipment, etc.
Also note that these sourcing companies can help you source and customize typical styles of clothes in simple design, as designing and producing a brand-new fashion style is quite costly and time-consuming. Note that you can find China sourcing agents by searching on Google or other freelancing websites like Upwork and Fiverr.
If you have the financial resources and time, then you should consider attending Chinese fairs mainly because they offer you a face-to-face talk with the clothing contractors.
Have it in mind that this can be quite beneficial as it helps you judge whether the contractor can meet your demands. Also, note that manufacturers and contractors attending fairs tend to be very experienced, and you can find many clothing factories that don’t have an e-commerce store on online platforms.
Industrial Clusters/China Wholesale Markets
Also, note that you can visit China yourself and make your choice from the contractors in its industrial clusters. There are over 44,000 companies that specialize in textile and apparel manufacturing in China’s clothing industrial clusters and they can be found around the Yangtze Delta and Pearl River Delta.
Aside from visiting the clothing factories directly, you can also find many wholesale markets in the industrial clusters. The largest wholesale clothing markets in China are mainly in Guangdong. Other markets to consider sourcing wholesale clothing from China include:
- Thirteen Hong Market
- Shahe Market
- Baima Market
- Jindu Clothing Wholesale City
- Sungang Taoyuan Foreign Trade Clothing City