One thing our experience has taught us at Apparel Network: too many brands contracting with offshore manufacturers neglect to ask about quality control processes not only at the factory, but at every step of the production. In order to produce high quality garments, everyone involved in the manufacturing needs to maintain some sort of quality assurance or quality control plan and procedures that includes factory monitoring, testing, inspections, audits etc.
There are myriad issues that can plague garment manufacturing, so quality checks need to be put in place at every stage of the production. Typical QA processes include:
- Fabric Defects Check
- Cutting Room Quality Checks
- Piece Goods Inspection
- In-Process Quality Control
- Quality Management Systems
Something to remember: larger manufacturing operations don’t necessarily offer better quality assurance. Very often, American and European fashion brands gravitate towards bigger manufacturers, assuming that they will be better organized and more reliable. But size matters less than having good processes in place.
Garment production is a much more complex undertaking than, say, electronics or home goods manufacturing where the processes involved are simple. It doesn’t take years to understand how aluminum die casting works, but with textile products the complexity is exponentially larger and so are the risks. Without having substantial industry experience there is a high likelihood that something will go wrong.
It takes a minimum of six months to train a competent textile inspector, and at least five years in the lines to develop a good production supervisor. There are no shortcuts – it takes a trained eye to ensure that quality related problems don’t ruin your merchandise. Sewing defects (open seams, incorrect stitching techniques, creases or raw edges), color and shade variations, sizing problems, and a whole range of related process issues (faulty zippers, irregular hemming, loose buttons or improper button holes, uneven parts, inappropriate trimming, etc.) all need to be spotted and corrected before finished products are shipped to their destination country.
Quality is what drives the value of any product or service and goes a long way to establishing your brand name and building your reputation. That’s why solid quality control from your manufacturing team in China is essential for any apparel exporter.