Finding a factory can seem overwhelming. Where do you get started to find one? (cough, THR3EFOLD, cough) How do you know if they are a good fit for your needs? While there is no exact formula, here’s our Top 5 Questions To Ask When Vetting a Factory.
1 | Quality
Ask them what QC (quality control) steps they take to ensure the quality of their product. If visiting the factory in person, ask if they can show you some samples they are currently working on. References are also a plus. If you’re communicating via email begin by asking for photos of past work and their brand roster.
2 | Pricing & Payment
Factories should be able to estimate a garments labor cost on the spot. Be prepared with a detailed tech-pack and/or sample to obtain accurate labor estimates. Make sure to let the factory know your retail price point and ask if they have worked with brands before in that price range. This helps them understand the quality you are looking for. Also ask what their terms are for payment if you decide to do production with them. Often it’s a 50% deposit to start and 50% on delivery.
3 | Communication
It’s important to set expectations up front, especially because working abroad adds time zone barriers and limited in-person visits. Always ask for the point person you will be communicating with at the factory going forward. Make sure to get their direct contact as well as their preferred method of communication. This is extremely helpful if you have last minute changes or need something . Also, it’s always a good idea to ask how present they will allow you to be in the manufacturing process (i.e. factory visits, photos of garments as they are in work) so you can stay up to date on your order.
4 | Quantity & Turnaround
What is the minimum & maximum number of units they can handle at a time? Ask what a typical lead time is for sample making and for production.
5 | Equipment/Technology
Make sure to check to see if the factory has the correct equipment to make your intended product (ie double needle, blind stitch, etc). If you are unsure, a patternmaker or sample maker can be a great resource to help you figure this out. Also, if they have a cutting room, it’s good to ask if they cut electronically or manually and if they can digitally accept graded patterns/markers.
Remember that finding your factory will be a fluid process so take a deep breath before you get started. If you’re ready to find your factory, we’d love to help you get connected to a great ethical factory. Please email us to get started.