How to source for Quality Knitwear Apparel Manufacturer?

The knitwear industry clusters in India in one of the largest in the world next to China. There are various dominating factors affecting cost effective quality apparel production in India like dyeing imbroglio, steep rise in yarn prices, Rupee Depreciation and labour issues. But the never say die attitude and the consistent quality production earns continuous orders to Tirupur from all over the world.

Anyone who is starting out a private label or promotional brand needs to look out for perfect sourcing / manufacturing partner before anything else. There lies the entire brand’s strength. I suggest 8 key points to find one.

1. Get a list of wishlist
2. Visit everyone personally at their office
3. Understand their size and works
4. Work out pricing and consistent quality strategies
5. Starting with small orders
6. Payment and Delivery Terms
7. Learn the process
8. Maintaining the relationship

In the garment production scene, there are two major divisions – Domestic and Export market. Tirupur contributes to 60% of total knitwear Export of India. The quality systems followed for export orders are generally not followed for domestic order because of pricing and awareness. Right from yarn sourcing, the export market demands certain quality systems in place including labour laws and factory space. Consistent quality production is always well paid for export market. The trend for the promotional wear is slowly changing because of the demands from corporate clothing. Companies began to follow quality system on every step from yarn sourcing to delivery of goods in doorsteps.

1. Get a wishlist.

Start with references before Google. Reference works better in finding your partner in manufacturing. If you don’t have one, always look out in Google but again there is high risk of finding a wrong one. List your choices and do a background check on each company about their web presence in Indiamart etc. Talk to each of them to see their interest in doing manufacturing for your brand. There is absolutely no need to continue talk if any two in the Quantity-Quality-Price trio doesn’t matches up. Talk to them often for a week atleast to know about what kind of works they do at what quality and quantity. Get enough samples from your required styles to know better.

2. Visit everyone personally at their office

I recommend to visit all wish listed partners at their office for the first time to know things first hand. You can also see all their previous works done, understand the quality, make better decisions in terms of capability. Make them explain about various textile terms which you are not sure of and get enough information about your required style of products from fabric to accessories. A good partner will always educate you with all required technical knowledge, which will in turn help you in deciding your styles/quality in a better way. Discuss in detail about your Brand’s vision short terms goals to get the supplier more interested. Make things crystal clear regarding your priorities like Quality over Quantity or Timely Delivery or Quantity over Quality etc.

3. Understand their size and works

There will be thousands of suppliers for any product, not everyone suits for you. The main differentiating factor will be size of work. Obviously a start up cannot ask Birla Group for a job work, likewise choosing a supplier who does similar sizes of production is more important. You can plan with that by keeping an year of production in mind and knowing prospective suppliers’ production capacity. Get to know about the minimum order quantity possible from the supplier and match it with yours. Also the quality of works, Quality is a perception always. Define quality for your brand and choose the one who falls in perfectly. Again see a lot of sample at their office and enquire on each one to know about the product better.

4. Work out pricing and consistent quality strategies

Supplies with consistent quality is most vital thing for any Brand. Insist on that from very beginning and also confirm the sources of supplier’s raw material quality every time. Make every order sheet mentioning all possible factors in place which may affect quality even the most obvious one. It will create a culture of sticking to certain quality structure for your Brand in supplier’s mind. Price can be discussed in detail as a last thing. I feel the first thing that can be compromised is Price if Quality, Quantity and Delivery time falls in place perfectly. Try to work out pricing by keeping long term relations in mind, insist the same to supplier also. Put the price in paper on the work contract of order sheets, record all changes in paper like Debits, Up charges etc.

5. Starting with small orders

I insist on the new clients to start with small orders to know each other better. A lot would have been discussed but orders makes us understand better and raises or lowers level of hope in a big way. You may be tempted to get everything in one lot and quick start things, but manufacturing doesn’t works that way. At least it will take its own time that to if you have multiple styles on a single order at the beginning, chances are more that it will screw up. Once you get the flow of orders, quantity and styles can be increased to mutually acceptable limits. Small orders will provide better learning for both with little hastiness. Consequent orders will get better inline with your expectations. Mainly there will be so many things that you are not aware off/not mentioned in contract/not seen in sample, so you will get to know them better with a small order.

6. Payment and Delivery Terms

Clear actual payments on time. Nothing more, nothing less. Any deviations can be discussed to settle amicably, sooner the better. Make the payment terms like advance, balance payment times well in advance and put them on papers before starting production. Mention the delivery plan on order sheet/contract with mode of delivery as well. Ensure proper paper works goes along with every consignment, which ensures proper tax payment and insurance claims if there is any loss during transit. Paper works differs state to state in India, learn that better before hand.

7. Learn the process

You will only build a better Brand by knowing all the background works which goes with manufacturing your product. Learn the complete manufacturing process. Start from the quality check for your product to quality of raw materials used. Get to know from your supplier, browse through lot of learning materials and put up various questions related to your product to the supplier to improvise on the product. By knowing the nuances of manufacturing you will be better equipped to do various styles and improving the quality. There will always be a better option to manufacture a t-shirt either with better raw materials or style.

8. Maintaining the relationship

There will be few times with shipment delays and quality differences in the long run. Its the time to see the complete picture from the beginning and not only that single production. On such rare occurrences, if you could educate the supplier to be better and move on positively, that will be best in any long term relationship. Supplier will be truthful about all the updates with that kind of c-operation from you. There will not be any surprises for you also. If you have a well settled supplier well suiting for your needs, you are free to concentrate on all other Herculean tasks of building your company.

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