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designer sourcing fabric

When I was starting a sustainable fashion brand back in 2011 I spent close to a year reaching out to fabric suppliers.

After months of dead-ends, it felt like we would never find the perfect fabric we needed for our product.

Admittedly, our standards were high. 

My then co-founder and I were looking for a 100% recycled fabric that was spun and knitted in the United States. 

We didn’t even know if that fabric existed.

But by some miracle, we eventually connected with a knitter in North Carolina who could sell us the fabric we needed.

The only problem?

The supplier’s minimum order quantity (MOQ) was over 1,000 yards. As a startup brand, who hadn’t even sold anything yet, we couldn’t begin to place an order that large.

But we also knew we couldn’t let this fabric pass us by. 

So, what did we do?

We negotiated.

(In a rather unconventional way…)

And in today’s video, I’m going to tell you how we did it so that when you find your perfect fabric you’ll know how to do it, too.

Enjoy!

 

 


fabric sourcing

Here’s an all-too-common frustration I hear from new entrepreneurs who don’t have a fashion background:

“There are just too many fabric options — it gives me complete decision paralysis.”

One of the first obstacles to overcome as a new fashion brand is how to determine the fabric you need for your product(s).

It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of fabric options to choose from.

You may decide on the fiber you want to use, but you don’t know if it should be a knit or a woven.

You may know that you want an organic cotton jersey knit, but you don’t know which weight you need.

Then there’s the confusion of ounces versus grams, depending on which country you’re sourcing from.

No wonder fabric sourcing is the very first module of the Factory45 accelerator program — it’s usually the part of the process that takes the longest!

So in today’s video, I’m sharing a quick and easy hack to start determining the fabric you need — and you don’t even need to leave your house (unless you want to).

I want you to feel empowered to tackle fabric sourcing head-on and overcome the paralysis of “too many options.”

Just this little exercise can help create some clarity around fabric and prove that even a beginner can successfully source fabric for her fashion brand.

Click the play button below to watch this short video!

Enjoy,

 

 


fabric sourcing

Every year around this time, I try googling a list of fashion events happening around the world, and I’m never able to find a comprehensive list… 

So, I put one together for us.

This list focuses mainly on sourcing, tradeshows and conferences with an emphasis on sustainable fashion, specifically.

I’ve also divided the events into USA and International — if there’s a tradeshow or conference that’s missing, please email me and I’ll add it to the blog post!

Enjoy,

 

 

*Designates the event being exclusively sustainable fashion-focused.

 

USA

Texworld USA

Jan. 19-21 | New York, NY

One of the largest sourcing events on the East Coast for apparel fabric buyers, product R&D specialists, designers, merchandisers and sourcing professionals. 

 

DG Expo New York

Jan. 20-21 | New York, NY

The fabric show features North American and European Fabric and Trim Suppliers with Global Production. Including: Made in USA / Low Minimums + Stock Programs.

 

Premiere Vision New York

Jan. 21-22 | New York, NY

Six major industries supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry come together in New York.

 

MAGIC Las Vegas

Feb. 5-7 | Las Vegas, NV

MAGIC is the most comprehensive fashion marketplace in the U.S., showcasing Women’s and Men’s Apparel, Footwear, Accessories, and Sourcing resources from around the world.

 

COTERIE

Feb. 11-13 | New York, NY

The COTERIE Marketplace brings together all categories of women’s fashion under one roof.

 

*Impact Fashion Shop

March 14 | Los Angeles, CA

One of the leading sustainable fashion events in Los Angeles, this free pop-up shop brings the best impact-driven, environmental-friendly, fair trade brands under one roof.

 

DG Expo Dallas

March 25-26 | Dallas, TX

The fabric show features North American and European Fabric and Trim Suppliers with Global Production. Including: Made in the USA / Low Minimums + Stock Programs.

 

*Sustainable Fashion Forum

April 24-26 | Portland, OR

A highly-curated, community-driven sustainable fashion conference that looks to the future by fostering an honest, thought-provoking conversation about the social and environmental effects fashion has on our world and what we can do individually and collectively to improve it.

 


INTERNATIONAL

The London Textile Fair

Jan. 15-16 | London, UK

Provides manufacturers and their agents with the opportunity to showcase their products to the most influential British buyers and designers.

 

IM INTERMODA

Jan. 16 | Guadalajara, Mexico

IM INTERMODA, is the most important international platform in the fashion industry in Latin America.

 

Future Fabric Expo

Jan. 29-30 | London, UK

The Future Fabrics Expo is the largest dedicated showcase of globally sourced available sustainably and responsibly produced fabrics and materials.

 

Pure Origin

Feb. 9-11 | London, UK

The UK’s only fashion sourcing show to bring every element of the fashion supply chain together in one location.

 

Texworld Paris

Feb. 10-13 | Paris, France

One of the largest sourcing events in Europe for apparel fabric buyers, product R&D specialists, designers, merchandisers and sourcing professionals. 

 

Premiere Vision-Paris

Feb. 11-13 | Paris, France

Six major industries supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry come together in Paris, the capital of fashion.

 

*Drapers Sustainable Fashion Conference

March 11 | London, UK

Brought to you by Drapers, the event is for fashion brands and retailers, clothes manufacturers, supply chain experts, innovators.

 

*The Australian Circular Fashion Conference

April 1-2 | Melbourne, Australia

The conference is specifically designed as a call to action for collaboration within the

Australasian textile and apparel industry.

 

Fashion World Tokyo

April 1-3 | Tokyo, Japan

FASHION WORLD TOKYO in Japan's largest fashion trade show which consists of 6 specialized shows, held twice a year.

 

International Apparel & Textile Fair

April 7-9 | Dubai, UAE

Leading brand in the MENA region to source and showcase the best in textiles, fabric, footwear accessories and prints from renowned mills across the globe.

 

*Copenhagen Fashion Summit

May 27-28 | Copenhagen, Denmark

From CEO’s and creative directors to policymakers and thought leaders, the Summit brings together decision-makers from across the globe for agenda-setting discussions on the most critical environmental, social and ethical issues facing our industry and planet.

 

*MOCHNI Conscious Loft

July 4 | Hamburg, Germany

CONSCIOUS LOFT is a cozy 1-day event for people looking to connect, learn and shop in an intimate atmosphere. At CONSCIOUS LOFT you will feel consciously at home within a like-minded community.

 

International Sourcing Expo

Nov. 24-26 | Melbourne, Australia

The show provides an unmatched opportunity to meet and do business with some of the best suppliers from around the world in apparel, accessories and textiles.

 


fabric sourcing

What is an “eco-friendly” fabric?

That’s the golden question — and it’s a subject of debate among designers, educators and industry veterans. 

Above all, it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as “perfectly sustainable.” 

Everything new has an impact in some way.

The goal as sustainable fashion entrepreneurs is to do the best we can, always striving to improve our supply chain, educate our customers and put pressure on the big brands to move away from petroleum-based synthetics. 

So on that note, I’ve put together a video of my six favorite eco-friendly fabrics. I go through the pros and cons of each one — because again, nothing is perfect… 

Unless you’re using truly upcycled fabric, but that’s a video for another day.

Click on the video below to play.

Which fabric did I miss? Leave a comment below the video to tell me your favorite eco-friendly fabric : )

 

 

Want more fabric sourcing advice? Watch this video: Fabric Sourcing for Your Fashion Brand in 5 Easy Steps


fabric sourcing

Want to know how fun I am at the ripe old age of 34…? 

I spent most of the past weekend live-streaming an entrepreneurship conference.

Party. Time. Amiright?

While this isn’t something my 21-year-old self would ever understand about who I’ve become, this is genuinely my version of a rip-roaring good time.

I just said “rip-roaring,” so yeah.

Anyway, of the entrepreneurs on stage at this conference — all of whom we’d categorize as successful — there seemed to be one common thread of advice.

The vast majority said something like this:

“I wish that I had invested in my business sooner.”

And they weren’t talking about hiring or outsourcing or seeking VC money.

They were talking about education.

One of the business owners said she’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on courses, programs, masterminds, digital products, coaches and mentors over the years and only wishes she had done it sooner.

Because every time she made a single investment in her knowledge, her business improved.

As someone who is a huge advocate for online education (for obvious reasons), I also spend a significant part of my own revenue each year on learning something new about my business.

I’ve taken courses on digital advertising, email marketing, Instagram, media outreach, YouTube, business law and a multitude of other topics at different times over the years.

And what I’ve noticed is not only does this investment in your business give you the inspiration to learn, but it also gives you insight into what you’re capable of doing yourself and what makes sense to outsource.

After the digital advertising course, I knew I wanted to hire someone to do it for me. (Numbers… do not compute…)

But email marketing, Instagram and YouTube? Those programs empowered me. They made me feel like I could conquer those important parts of my business on my own.

And that’s what The Factory45 Shop is all about — it’s why I created it. 

Because if you’re ready to start now, then I want you to feel empowered to take action.

If you’re waiting for Factory45 applications to open in May, then The Fabric Sourcing Kit is for you.

If you’re getting ready to go into product development and production, then The Manufacturing Kit is for you.

If you’re ready to start building your brand with the goal of a pre-sales launch campaign, then The Crowdfunding Factory is for you (enrollment closes tonight at midnight ET!)

And if you’re facing a specific challenge that you just can’t seem to conquer, then I’m offering 1-on-1 strategy sessions until December 20th.

The chance to invest in your own business education is here for you.

And according to over a dozen seasoned entrepreneurs speaking to a packed audience, you won’t regret taking it.

 


Crowdfunding

To the person hustling through nights and weekends to launch their brand,

To the person waiting for applications to Factory45 to open,

To the person not knowing where to start…

I made something for you.

The Factory45 Shop is a new platform exclusively created for startup fashion entrepreneurs.

Over the past 5+ years of running Factory45 once a year, from May to December, I kept getting the same requests…

“I’m ready to start now!”

“I don’t want to wait until May of next year!”

“What can I work on while I wait?”

And now I have an answer.

I’ve created three digital products that offer immediate access, so you can start working on your fashion brand right now.

Whether you plan on applying to Factory45 in May 2020 or not, these three resources will answer some of those immediate questions you have about starting a fashion brand.

Not feeling confident about reaching out to fabric suppliers?

The Fabric Sourcing Kit is for you.

Want to avoid costly mistakes in product development and apparel production? 

The Manufacturing Kit is for you.

Need to raise money to launch your brand — without giving up equity? 

The Crowdfunding Factory is for you.

There is also an opportunity for established brands to connect with me for a 1-on-1 strategy session through December 20th.

It’s all here.

Read through the details and if you’re not sure which kit or course is right for you, then just email me at shannon@f45staging.wpengine.com — I’m happy to offer recommendations.

Wherever you are in your fashion business, this is an opportunity to take action. Grab onto it.

I’m cheering you on,


Factory45 Shop

How do you find a manufacturer for your clothing line?

…especially as a new brand without many industry contacts?

In today’s episode of Factory45 TV (!), I’m sharing 5 tips to finding a clothing manufacturer for the first time.

My best tip — that I haven’t shared before — is saved for #4 so make sure you watch all the way to the end.

It’s never too soon to start making a list of potential production partners that you can contact when you’re ready.

This video will help you begin (or continue) your search. Enjoy!

 

 


clothing manufacturer

Do you know one of the most time-intensive parts of creating a fashion brand?

Fabric sourcing.

It can take months to find the perfect fabric for your product(s).

And that’s why fabric sourcing is the very first thing we tackle in the Factory45 accelerator program.

Because at the same time as you’re building your social media presence, growing your email list and creating an audience before you launch, you’re likely still looking for fabric.

And if you have no idea where to begin, where to look or how to start, then today’s video is for you.

I’m laying out the first five steps to effective fabric sourcing.

And I’m going to make sure you sound like a pro when you’re reaching out to fabric suppliers.

Enjoy,

 

 


Factory45 Apply Now

“Oh, man. I was going about this all wrong…” she said to me, looking like the ‘face palm’ emoji.

“No wonder no one was emailing me back.”

This is an all-too-common feeling for new designers who are just starting out in the overwhelming world of fabric sourcing.

You know that whatever you’re doing isn’t working, but you don’t exactly know why.

Maybe your inquiry email is unclear. 

Maybe you’re not asking for the right thing… in the right way.

Maybe the supplier simply overlooked your email.

Whatever the reason, I do know this:

The vast majority of new designers are making four very common fabric sourcing mistakes.

And in this week’s video, I’m going to tell you what they are so you can avoid them.

If you’re not making the progress you need to source fabric and materials for your fashion brand, then I hope this video will help you on your search.

In the comments below the video, let me know which of the four mistakes you might be making and we can talk it through more.

To your success,

 


It is officially fabric trade show season! What does that mean for you?

There is a good likelihood that there is some sort of wholesale fabric show happening in a city near you — whether that’s a short plane ride or right down the street.

StartUp Fashion put together a comprehensive list for 2019 here.

Why would you want to go to a fabric trade show as a designer or brand?

It’s not because you should buy fabric.

It’s not because you should collect business cards.

And it’s not because most of them are free.

The reason to go to a fabric trade show is so you can see hundreds of different fabrics in one place. 

So you can hold them in your hands.

So you can compare them to each other.

So you can feel the different weights and textures.

It’s so you can cut down on the amount of time you spend waiting for swatches to arrive in the mail.

If I’ve convinced you that it’s a worthwhile trip to make, here’s what you need to know next:

How to make the most of your time there.

And that’s what this video is all about… 

5 tips for making sure you have a successful trade show experience.

Have you already been to a trade show before? Leave a comment below the video and let me know which one(s) you’ve gone to. 

Also, leave a comment if I’ll see you at TexWorld USA next week!

 


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