Navigating the landscape of different fashion suppliers can be tricky. Not only are there many manufacturers and locations to choose from, but the pandemic has made it challenging to visit potential partners.
Moreover, good communication and a clear sense of what kind of supplier you will need are crucial. In this post, we investigate factors to consider when searching for your ideal manufacturer.
Does the supplier see itself as an extension of your brand, and does it communicate and present itself accordingly?
Experience & Operational Capabilities
There are two critical questions that you should always have in mind when you begin searching for a partner:
- What type of products are you going to produce [in the future]?
- What kind of relationship do you plan to establish?
In this respect, your supplier’s experience, operational capabilities, communications, and attitude are crucial factors. Is the supplier capable of producing your products and sourcing your materials? Are they open to investing in new materials or production methods that your brand may potentially need? Does the supplier see itself as an extension of your brand, and does it communicate and present itself accordingly?
A manufacturer’s location can have big implications for import duties as well.
Logistics Routes & Lead Times
Logistics routes and lead times are also essential factors to consider. Take the supplier’s location into consideration. What are the available options for logistics routes and logistics handling? Does the manufacturer offer supply chain solutions, or do you have to arrange the logistics yourself?
A manufacturer’s location can have big implications for import duties as well. As highlighted in our previous post on how to benefit from Cambodia’s free trade agreement, Cambodia can be particularly appealing to Fashion & Lifestyle brands in the US or the UK, generating potential savings of as much as 40% on the cost of importation.
However, it’s important to remember that as a brand, you must sometimes look past certificates to ensure the manufacturer is sourcing and producing to a high standard.
Certifications & Audits
Certifications and audits can help you assess the quality of the production process and products, as well as the conditions under which those products were made. Some of the most well-known are SA8000 and ISO 9001. The SA8000 Standard focuses on worker safety and well-being, and ISO 9001 is more focused on product quality.
There are many different manufacturing certificates in fashion. However, it’s important to remember that as a brand, you must sometimes look past certificates to ensure the manufacturer is sourcing and producing to a high standard.
Operational capabilities, logistic solutions, and certifications are all important components when it comes to sustainability. In our previous post on producing your products sustainably, we stressed the importance of looking at the entire value chain for sustainable manufacturing.
It’s a complex process. You could start by assessing what sustainability means to you and what impact you want to make. Clarifying this goal will help you find the right manufacturing partner.
Are you interested in learning more about sustainable manufacturing? Do you want to know how we can help you discover what sustainability means to you? Contact us today.