Overview of the Apparel Production Process

Welcome to COsewn!
December 22, 2011
Working With Pattern and Sample Makers
January 19, 2012

The process of designing and manufacturing apparel is incredibly complex and detail oriented, and launching a fashion line requires a great deal of planning and preparation from the start. Each step along the way has its own set of considerations and requirements that should be addressed and completed before moving on to the next phase.

While a designer entrepreneur may be able to learn to do and/or manage many of these things on their own, some aspects of the process require a high level of experience and professional knowledge in order to achieve quality results and a profitable product, so unless a designer is extremely well rounded and experienced in the apparel industry prior to launching their own line, it is prudent to seek out consultants who can help you navigate the process, identify potential problem areas, and keep you on track by determining which tasks should be delegated to competent professionals, potentially saving you countless hours, costly mistakes, and wasted dollars along the way.

The fashion industry is not a place for the faint of heart; you must have tenacity and the willingness to invest countless hours and resources into developing your concept, your understanding and knowledge of the process, and your business model in order to have a chance a making it in this business. Don’t expect to be able to come up with a design concept and have it ready for production overnight, or even in a matter of weeks. The process of launching a product or fashion line typically can take months of sourcing and development before you will be ready to manufacture a product to sell.

There are no shortcuts to success, but if you are smart about your approach to the process, you can potentially save yourself time in the long run by following the advice of experienced professionals who have your best interest in mind. We strongly advise you to do your research and put together a business plan before you even begin the process of developing your ideas for production.

Here’s a brief outline of the process:

1. Planning

  • Market and industry research
  • Identify and define target customer
  • Develop business plan

2. Design and Development

  • Sourcing materials and contractors
  • Sketching and refining design concepts
  • Pattern development and sample making
  • Fittings, revisions, and costing

3. Sales and Marketing

  • Develop line sheets, website, and other related marketing materials
  • Present and sell line to buyers

4. Production

  • Finalize patterns, including grading and marker making
  • Order production quantities of materials and trims
  • Cutting and sewing
  • Quality control, tagging, and packing
  • Shipping

We’ll get into more detail on the specifics that are involved in each of these phases in subsequent posts. If you are just starting out, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing your homework to research and plan your approach. Buy some books. READ A LOT. Talk to industry professionals. Know what you’re getting yourself into.

Additional suggested reading:

Should You Start a Clothing Line?

The Secret to Starting a Successful Children’s Clothing Line (or any apparel line)

If you’re still passionate and committed to pursuing the path of a designer entrepreneur after acquainting yourself with all that it’s going to take, we’d love to help. Contact us for a consultation, and we’ll help you put together a plan for navigating the process of producing a line.

1 Comment

  1. Kat Anderson says: