Finding a fashion clothing manufacturers is not easy, but getting a reply back to your enquiry is a whole new level of challenge most entrepreneurs are not prepared for.

When they are ready to start working on their idea initially they struggle to know where to research and find factories. But once they find a few – they think the hard part of the search is done. They send email enquiries and are dumbfounded when they get no replies.

The main reason for this is the low level of the inquiry itself. To a manufacturer reading it – it contains no value of information and as such the manufacturer faces to choices: go down the rabbit hole of exchanging many emails and asking for more information until they find out 5-10 emails down the line there is no good business fit or…. Not answer at all.

Most choose the latter, for the simple reason, that good fashion clothing manufacturers receive dozens and more of such enquiries every single day. Unless they have n assistant or a trusted employee to deal with the mail inbox, most answer emails in their own time. Given the long hours they put in at work, answering vague emails that most likely will result in nothing is not a priority.

So it seems they have their valid reasons. And it seems that the focus must be in writing a good inquiry in the first place in order to get a reply. The onus is on you – the fashion designer and entrepreneur.

So let’s see how you can do and how you should approach fashion clothing manufacturers and get a reply back from them. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

How to structure your fashion clothing manufacturers enquiry

The premise of any inquiry is to give out basic information in order to receive back information that will help you onwards with your inquiry.

The mistake most designers and fashion entrepreneurs make is to send very vague messages that to the reader mean nothing. Moreover, they leave the reader – the fashion clothing manufacturers in ou case, with the impression you are a novice and the time and effort required to service you would be a waste of time.

Here are a few such examples taken from real enquiries sent to factories:

“ Hi there, I am a designer looking for vegan wallets manufacturer. Are you able to work with me?”

“ Dear Sirs, I am a fashion designer and I am looking for a manufacturer to make my collection. Can you call me back to discuss further.”

“Hello, how much would it cost to manufacture a long faux fur coat? Thank you.”

Do you see how the inquiries above do not contain any information that may be of value to fashion clothing manufacturers?

Would you spend time going back and forth asking for more information knowing from experience that such inquiries rarely end up in long-term work?

A good inquiry will provide more information to grab hold of the readers’ attention and let them immediately have an opinion if they should pursue the conversation further or it is a “No”. There is no” good fit” between the designer and the factory. Which is OK. It is better to eliminate at the start than to waste everyone’s time and money.

Here is another enquiry that looks like is it better…

Hello, I am Amelie from France and we are a new business company interested in selling leather diaper bags under our brand, preferably made from full-grain leather. I am hoping that we could work together to bring my designs to life, made by your leather artisans. May I know if you are interested and if we may discuss further? I have a few requirements as it is a bag made for mums, such as 100% removable polyester lining, stroller straps etc. I have a few questions, 1. What type of leather do you use and do you have full-grain leather? 2. Where are your leather hides from and is it chrome or vegetable tanned? 3. Are your bags machine or handmade? I have drawings of our bag together with detailed specifications if you are interested in this.

While it may look better, it is pretty much the same as above. The designer asks a lot of basic information, which will require time for the manufacturer to answer without any idea if there is a business opportunity for them. Most likely they will choose not to reply and with good reason. Also, the questions betray the designer’s lack of experience. Asking what leather the factory uses shows that the designer doesn’t know how manufacturing works and will require an education first before any real work potentially begins.

Finally, here is a much better example of an enquiry sent to a dozen manufacturers:

Dear Sir/Madam, I am looking for high-quality handcrafted producers for my vegetable-tanned leather items (also looking at vegan leather alternatives). I am based in London and would like to see if we can work together. You can see some items below (images attached) that I have sampled and need further development on. I am looking for a factory that I can produce small quantities with and develop new samples. Can I ask what your sampling and production costs are like roughly as well as lead times/MOQ?

To a manufacturer, there is a lot more information here as well as visuals that will allow them immediately to decide if there is potential to this enquiry or not.

So let us take a look at what makes a good enquiry and what will get fashion clothing manufacturers reaching for the keyboard.

How to write the right way to fashion clothing manufacturers

To ensure fashion clothing manufacturers not only open and read, but reply to your enquiries you must ensure that your email is:

  1. Brief and concise
  2. Contains answers to the main questions fashion clothing manufacturers want to know: Who, What, Why, When.

These magic set of 4 W’s is the secret recipe to a good inquiry that will surely solicit a response from the majority of the fashion clothing manufacturers you write to.

Let’s break it down more so there are no questions left by the time you finish reading this article.

You get what you ask for! If you ask the right questions, you will get the right information.

1. Who

“Who” is the first thing you need to address whether you write an email or make a phone call. It is your brief introduction. It sets the scene for the rest of the conversation.

Imagine you are at a networking event and you hear someone has a factory that maybe able to be of help in the realisation of your product idea. You would walk up and introduce yourself first – right? The same will apply for this enquiry, regardless of the fact that it is not in person. The same social rules apply n matter where the conversation takes place – offline or online.

So in one brief sentence, say Who you are (your name what you do, where are you located).

Job done!

2. What

“What” is the most important question here. This is the first place where the reader – the manufacturer you desperately need to find – will decide if they should read more or delete your message, stop you talking….

What needs to cover the following:

  • What do you want to make? In other words – what is your product for which you are looking for a manufacturer.

Take the time to think and describe your product well and with as much verbal information that the reader can picture in their mind a vivid image of your product.

For example – if you are looking to make a dress, don’t just say “…I am looking to make a dress”. Instead, write “… I am looking to make an evening asymmetrical shoulder, long dress”

See how just a few words more allow the reader to paint a picture of what you are looking to make.

  • What material you will be using?

This is a crucial piece of information too. It allows the manufacturer to assess if they can work with you because that is a material for which they have the right machinery to work with. Not all sewing machines are able to do a great job across all materials. Finding the right manufacturer means that they need to have an experience and right machinery to work on the type of material your product will be made out of. Anything less and you will be paying for a bad or mediocre product that most likely you’ll struggle to sell.

Further Reading: What Clothing Manufacturers Want Fashion Brands to Know

3. Why

“WHY” is where you mention if you are looking to make samples or production. Again – it is important to state what you are looking for.

Sampling is an important stage of any product development, but it is the least favourite stage for a manufacturer. It requires a lot of time and effort on their part that is not necessarily covered by the cost they will charge. Small factories use the same workers for manufacturing and sampling. Larger factories have separate team and area for sampling. Either way, making samples require proper scheduling and resource allocation.

Production is what factories make money from and what they would like to get to as fast as possible. But that too needs to be planned.

Making clear in your initial enquiry what you are looking for at this stage helps the reader understand better the opportunity in the context of their business.

4. When

Finally – this talks about the urgency of the request. It may seem insignificant, but this small piece of information can tell an experienced manufacturer how experienced you are. How?

Well, most experienced designers know that anything to do with manufacturing takes time. Allowing plenty of time for sampling or manufacturing is best to avoid disappointments. Those who know that will construct a proper critical path and be able to give a reasonable time frame for their request. Or at least they will request information on how long the factory may take to do XYZ.

Those who are new to the industry will assume that the factory is ready and waiting for them and if by any chance, they have other clients, they will be pushed aside and all effort will be given to their project.

This is not the case! So any enquiries saying “I need this yesterday” or within a week, 10 days etc will leave the reader with doubt as to working with you would be a good idea.

Fashion clothing manufacturers are just like any other business. They make clothes and products for a living and want to work with nice clients that are respectful, professional and pay.

Asking for something for “yesterday” can speak of inexperience or your personality. Either way – a manufacturer reading your enquiry at this point will stop and think twice.

So do some research in advance or ask for the manufacturers own suggestion of timing here, but be open to the notion that when you are new, you are not the priority for that business. That is their existing, paying clients will be first in the queue.

Summary: You get what you ask for.

So you see, nothing above is new. It is the type of information without thinking you will convey in a person-to-person conversation, yet when it comes to writing or calling on the phone to enquire, we forget the basics and make life harder for ourselves.

Follow the structure above and write out a new enquiry. Keep it brief and use bullet points to separate the information so it is neat and easy to read.

And above all remember – you get what you ask for! If you ask the right questions, you will get the right information.


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