Manufacturing Partner: Find the right one for your Brand – Fashion Insiders One of the challenges most often faced and talked about in fashion is the delicate matter of finding a manufacturing partner – the right manufacturer – for you and your brand. We are quick to know what is right and wrong, good or bad in everyday matters, but when it comes to finding a factory, everyone seems to panic and forget to apply what they already instinctively know.

How to find a good manufacturing partner

So, here are some reminders that should help you sort the good from the bad.

Respect for other people’s work

One of the main ways to finding a good manufacturer is going to meet them. Once you are there, notice how they talk about their work, also about existing and past clients.

Are they respectful? Do they bad mouth past clients? Do they show you what they are currently working on for other designers? Do they treat their show samples and past examples of work kindly, or are they dirty, scruffy and badly kept

These are indicators of how your work will be treated, and how you as a client will be treated now or later. If anything bothers you along the way, make a note, and don’t ignore it. It may be that during your visit, your doubts are put to rest or amplified.

Working to deadlines

Starting small gives both you and your factory a chance to learn about each other and how you work.

Set clear expectations and deadlines, and monitor them. Late deliveries are common in the fashion industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. While on occasion it may happen for valid reasons, constantly late deliveries are a sign that either you or your factory is not organised. Find out what is causing the delays.

If the fault lies with the factory and a late delivery is the norm, rather than an exception, it is up to you as a business owner to decide what to do. Do you like the factory and their work, and it’s simply the case that they need longer lead times? Are the delays having an impact on your business and reputation?

Evaluate the situation and take action to remedy it.

Good communication

A good factory is one that communicates well with you. That means they call or email you if there is a problem, or if they have a question, and their paperwork is clear and correct.

Good communication is a two-way process, you also have to be a good communicator to keep the dialogue alive, and the workflow moving and correct all in a professional and timely fashion.

Trade references

Ask the factory to provide you with trade references that can give you feedback on their work.

That should be a good start, but not the only check one should do. Always ask peers and people you know in the industry if they have heard of this factory, in any capacity.

Be careful with the information you receive, everyone’s experience is different. But be aware if you repeatedly hear the same feedback that rings with warning bells.

Listen to your inner voice and gut feeling

Finally, do follow the advice above but also listen to your inner voice. If something doesn’t feel right, then there must be something that is not right.

Equally, if a factory is not picture perfect but you get a good feeling from the manager/owner, you feel you connect, you like what you hear and that inner voice is happy, then do a small test run.

Related reading: 11 Questions to Ask Factories before Working with them

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