If you are a fashion designer who is just starting off, then you need to know where to source your fabrics from. You are going to make a few mistakes along the way and probably get conned by fabric suppliers, but the knowledge you gain will determine the future of your career.
Sourcing the right fabric for your clothing line will help you materialize the designs you have on paper. Knowing where to go to find quality fabric at a discount price will directly influence how much money you make. Like any other business, the idea is to pay less money for the desired quality of the fabric.
When you start off, you might not get the “special” discount from fabric wholesalers. Mainly because both offline and online fabric wholesalers entertain buyers who can buy in bulk. They are much more interested to move certain yardage of fabric than to give discounts for small purchases.
In this post, we are going to share a few tips seasoned fashion designers use to find fabrics for their clothing line.
Carry Pieces of Sample When Out Shopping in Person
It’s very hard to explain texture and color verbally. Carry sample swatches with you to minimize confusion. If you don’t have samples, you might need to go into details such as weight and material type. Fabric suppliers are usually experienced enough to check a sample swatch and the offer samples from his or her batch that closely matches your sample. They usually stretch, feel, and sometimes even smell the swatches to decode its true material identity.
Always Compare Prices Online
While it’s a good idea to get the feel of the fabric by going to actual wholesalers, it’s important to check the prices online. Online fabric stores often offer huge discounts on the same exact materials that are available in fabric retailers. Their lack of establishment cost allows them to sell discount fabric online at a rate that most brick and mortar retailers simply cannot match.
Visualize the End Product When Buying the Fabric
Not finding the exact fabric is a problem that plagues all fashion designers. If that happens, they need to think about alternatives. Alternatives that have similar properties of stretchability, breathability, and has the same tensile strength. The replacement also needs to feel similar. The combination of all of these properties will ensure that when the fabric is used to craft the end product, it has the same degree of comfort and functionality as it was visualized.
Start Collecting Sample Swatches
The more you visit fabric retailers and wholesalers, the more you would realize the importance of building a collection of sample fabric swatches. Your glossary of swatches will help you envision new designs as well as help source the material of choice.
Visit a Garment or a Textile District
Most major cities, especially port cities, have textile districts. This is an area where a lot of wholesalers and trim suppliers (suppliers that sell zippers, ribbons, buttons, and other stuff) have outlets. Going to a textile district allows you to interact with multiple suppliers and get the best price for the fabric you need.
Attend an Auction to Buy Discount Fabric Online
Some fabric stores online organize live e-auctions. These online auction rooms are a great place to get amazing discounts on a variety of fabrics. They might not be a great fit for you if you are looking for a particular fabric as the auctioned fabrics change from time to time. The total listing of auctioned items is also limited. However, they are a great choice if you are brainstorming and want to start by selecting the fabric first and then creating a design.
Know When to Source from a Jobber
Jobbers are small time wholesalers who buy leftover fabrics at huge discounts. They then sell these fabrics to fashion designer at a fraction of the original asking price. Jobbers are a great choice if you are just starting off or if you are a student who needs limited materials. Jobbers are definitely not the way to go if you want to keep on buying the same material. They usually source their fabric from random places and a fabric type may not be available again with them after the stock is exhausted.
Never Miss a Textile Show
If you are willing to travel a bit, you can attend a textile show every single month. These are like any other trade shows; the only difference is that all the booths are manned by fabric and trim suppliers. These are great places to build rapport with dependable fabric suppliers and learn more about fabrics. These shows also attract fashion designers and offer plenty of opportunities for interaction.