Finding a factory in China to produce your garments can be time-consuming. Shopping for manufacturer will always require that you take time to research, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or feel overwhelming. Here we attempt to help you simplify the process by outlining which steps you should be taking and the order you should be taking them in.
You can start right from the comfort of your own home by searching online. Websites like Alibaba and Global Sources will allow you to sort through and filter out potential garment manufacturing partners with nothing more than a few clicks.
This is only the starting point. Once you’ve found some suitable results (that is, manufacturers that seem to have the capabilities to produce your clothing) get in touch with the factories. This is the first step in vetting factories and determining whether they really can produce your designs and if the final product will be up to your standards.
When contacting Chinese garment factories make sure to ask the right questions; you want to know about more than just their production capabilities:
- Ask about their prices for production, production lead times, and payment terms
- Ask about their prices for samples
- Do they specialize in working with certain materials (neoprene, cotton, etc.)?
- Can they help you source fabrics and accessories?
- What quality control processes are in place, if any?
- Do they ship your products to their final destination?
- Do they do providing the labeling and packaging, or can they arrange for it to be done?
- Do they work with small companies? What are their Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs)?
These are some of the initial questions you should be asking but probably won’t be enough to determine which of factory will be the best fit for your production needs. The next step might involve an in-person visit to the factories — “seeing is believing,” after all. This allows you to see the factory in operation and the people in charge in order to make a determination as to the efficiency of the process and the quality of the work.
There are other ways to find off-shore manufacturers, for example, attending trade shows, talking directly to the factory representatives and looking at samples of their work. It would still be a good idea to follow up with a trip to the factory itself.
Last but not least: you could go through an agency. Agents know the ins and outs of the Chinese manufacturing world, understand the culture and the customs and can help you source materials as well. Not all agencies are the same however, so do your research before committing to one. It might cost you a little more to go through an agent, but if you find the right one you’ll wind up with a better final product and fewer headaches.