Making The Commitment

How to shop the fabric market.

Once you select your fabric, you are ready to order production fabric. Ordering production fabric is a commitment. You sign a contract. In large design companies, the fabric buyer places production fabric orders. However in smaller companies, where there may not be a fabric buyer, therefore often the designer or owner place the production fabric orders.

On the production fabric order, all of the following details must be included:

•Fabric quality name and style number
•Fiber content type
•Fabric width
•Fabric weight
•Colors or design colorways
•Price per yard
•Quantity being ordered
•Shipping destination
•Delivery date and location details

Plus any other pertinent information.

This fabric order is binding, so be specific with your order and your expectations. An extremely important detail is to attach a swatch of the selected and approved fabric to the order, and add a swatch to every copy. If using PLM, then scan in the fabric swatch to the production fabric order. In that way there is no confusion when the goods arrive if the correct fabric has been delivered. If using hard copies, the supplier gets the original, and copies go to those who place the order, plus to the production department, shipping destination, and to accounts payable. With swatches of the actual fabric attached (or scanned in) everyone involved sees if what is shipped matches what was ordered and therefore is paid for. Whoever is at the destination to receive the fabric must compare the goods delivered to the swatch attached to the order. From that point on you someone at the destination must further inspect the fabric to assure the received yardage is undamaged and meets any and all or your particular company’s specified requirements.

A production fabric order should only include a sufficient amount of yardage to fill your cutting ticket, with a small percent for anticipated wastage. Otherwise you may or sell to a broker or jobber at a greatly-reduced fee. Both these scenarios are profit loss situations that can be avoided by carefully calculating your production fabric order quantities and ordering just the amount you need.

Once you select your fabric, you are ready to order production fabric. Ordering production fabric is a commitment. You sign a contract. In large design companies, the fabric buyer places production fabric orders. However in smaller companies, where there may not be a fabric buyer, therefore often the designer or owner place the production fabric orders.

On the production fabric order, all of the following details must be included:

•Fabric quality name and style number
•Fiber content type
•Fabric width
•Fabric weight
•Colors or design colorways
•Price per yard
•Quantity being ordered
•Shipping destination
•Delivery date and location details

Plus any other pertinent information.

This fabric order is binding, so be specific with your order and your expectations. An extremely important detail is to attach a swatch of the selected and approved fabric to the order, and add a swatch to every copy. If using PLM, then scan in the fabric swatch to the production fabric order. In that way there is no confusion when the goods arrive if the correct fabric has been delivered. If using hard copies, the supplier gets the original, and copies go to those who place the order, plus to the production department, shipping destination, and to accounts payable. With swatches of the actual fabric attached (or scanned in) everyone involved sees if what is shipped matches what was ordered and therefore is paid for. Whoever is at the destination to receive the fabric must compare the goods delivered to the swatch attached to the order. From that point on you someone at the destination must further inspect the fabric to assure the received yardage is undamaged and meets any and all or your particular company’s specified requirements.

A production fabric order should only include a sufficient amount of yardage to fill your cutting ticket, with a small percent for anticipated wastage. Otherwise you may or sell to a broker or jobber at a greatly-reduced fee. Both these scenarios are profit loss situations that can be avoided by carefully calculating your production fabric order quantities and ordering just the amount you need.

LEAVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME:
When you shop and source for fabric, allow enough time as sourcing can certainly be time-consuming. How long you permit for fabric sourcing, depends completely on your in-store or customer-delivery date. That delivery date is the most important date on your manufacturing calendar, as if you delivery late to a store or customer, they may no longer want it. You need to work backwards from your delivery date to calculate how long, in days, weeks, months, you have before the finished items are distributed to the stores or customers. Allow time for design, materials sourcing, sample yardage ordering and receiving, sample making, pre-production, delivery of fabric, spreading, cutting, production sewing, pressing, labeling, inspecting the production, packaging, shipping and distribution to your stores and customers. Once you work backwards from your in-store date, you may find that you need to shop for fabrics anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months before the goods get to the stores. That is a considerable amount of time, and depends greatly if you are sewing up a small order in house, or you are making a large-batch order globally. The best approach when you need to complete everything, including fabric sourcing, is to create an online chart with each stage on it and how much time you require to complete each stage. Share the document with everyone involved on the design, production, and distribution of your product- so everyone understands your calendar and designed delivery dates.

HOPEFULLY, IT’S A HIT:
When you choose your production fabric, keep in mind, that if the style or styles you use the fabric for sells well, then you may eventually need more of the exact same fabric. Having a hit on your hands is a great problem to have- but it is a challenge! Because if you are shipping to a retailer, and the item sells well, they may place a reorder and will expect a quick turnaround on the reorder. So, try to select fabric that will have a short, or immediate, leadtime if you do require more of it. This point is key when working with stores. If you are able to quickly fill reorders, then you are on your way to establishing great relationship with your retailers and buyers. If you cannot get the exact goods, and you take the time to source all over again, it will be almost impossible to fill that reorder in time.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
When shopping the fabric market, always be upfront with your production needs, especially in terms of what you want to pay, how many yards you may order and how much time you have. It is a waste of your very valuable time and the fabric salesperson’s very valuable time, when impractical or exaggerated quantities of fabrics are sourced. You don’t want the fabric suppliers to think you are not honest about your needs, when that occurs they no longer wish to work with you, and you may need them sometime in the future, especially if they have a great line, full of hot fabrics!

No one in the garment industry enjoys wasting time, mainly because there is so little of it, and we never have enough of it in our business. So always be straightforward with your fabric yardage needs, and straightforward with your salespeople, and you will develop a great and lasting relationship with your suppliers, and they will do everything in their power to always find the perfect fabrics for your line.

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