10+ Questions to Ask Before Developing A Fashion Line

Emerging fashion designers and brands – remember when I told you how to develop a fashion line? Well now it’s time to dive a bit deeper!

As someone who’s developed product for brands like FILA, UO, Buckle, & more – a big portion of my job was seeking out new manufacturers and in doing so, I realized there was so many questions I had to ask. All factories don’t have the same abilities and capacities, and you really have to vet out multiple manufacturers before you decide on the one that will make your product line. Below is a comprehensive list of questions all fashion designers and brands should be asking potential manufacturers:

1. What is Your Production Capacity?

You have to make sure if the factory can handle the volume of production you require and if they have the resources to deliver your expected quality, on time.

2. What is The Lead Time for Production?

You need to know how long it will take for the factory to produce your orders, so you can plan your inventory and launch dates accordingly. This includes the lead time for samples, and the lead time once the order has been confirmed by the manufacturer.

3. What is Your Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)?

This is important to know because if the MOQ is too high, it may be difficult for you to manage your inventory and cash flow, especially if you are just starting. You don’t want to agree to a MOQ that is not realistic for your brand or business.

4. Do You Accept Orders Under Your MOQ?/Do you Charge a Small Lot Fee?

A potential way to work around the above question is seeing if the manufacturer will accept your order under their MOQ for a small lot fee. This essentially means you pay a small fee to take up space on the production floor that is normally allotted to a customer who can meet their MOQ requirements.

5. What is The Cost Per Unit?

You need to know the cost per unit to determine if the factory’s prices fit within your budget and profit margins. This will take some negotiation skills, and the first price is normally never the best price (more to come on that).

6. Do You Charge for Samples?/How Much Do You Charge for Samples?

A lot of times for new customers, the manufacturers will charge for samples. You need to make sure you know what the cost is, so you are not stuck with a bill out of no where.

7. What is Your Payment and Delivery Schedule?

It is important to clarify the payment and delivery schedule upfront to avoid any misunderstandings or delays in the future. For payment terms, this can include FOB China/country of origin, FOB 50/50. Delivery schedules normally are between 6-8 weeks depending on the product and the volume. Also – you need to ask about freight charges and who is responsible for the freight.

8. Can You Provide Samples of Your Previous Work?

It is helpful to see samples of the factory’s previous work to gauge their quality and capabilities. Manufacturers normally have examples of this on their website, or can provide this to you upon request.

9. Can You Share Your Factory’s Audit History?

It is helpful to see samples of the factory’s previous work to gauge their quality and capabilities. Manufacturers normally have examples of this on their website, or can provide this to you upon request.

10. What Certifications Do You Have?

If you are producing sustainable or eco-friendly fashion, it is essential to ensure that the factory has the necessary certifications to meet your standards.

11. Do You Have Any Minimum Quality Standards?

You need to know if the factory has any quality standards in place to ensure that the products they produce meet your expectations and requirements.

12. Do You Provide Any Additional Services?

Some factories may offer additional services such as packaging, labeling, and shipping that may be beneficial for your business. Also ask if the manufacturer has in house design services or drop shipping services.

13. What is Your Policy on Revisions and Returns?

It is important to clarify the factory’s policy on revisions and returns upfront to avoid any potential issues in the future. Most manufacturers do not allow newer accounts to return product or receive markdown money due to slow sellers, but it’s still a good idea to ask. Also – this can come into play if there’s a hiccup in shipping and your goods don’t arrive when they are supposed to.

To make the process easier, I’ve put these questions in one document, so you can copy and paste into an email with ease! Download and let me know what other resources you need from The Fashion Connector!

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