Geoff Krasnov offers apparel/clothing/garment manufacturing and sourcing news.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

US Dollar Decline Causing Unprecedented Increases

As the value of the US dollar continues its downward spiral everything imported takes on the burden of the net effect. Fabrics we import from Canada have increased 45-60% over the past year. The Canadian dollar is now worth a dime more than the US$. Import garment FOB pricing, combined with increased freight costs, have started to sway purchasing of apparel back to the US. Unfortunately, the US infrastructure is no longer in place to support a broad return. What this will mean over the comming months is likely an overall acceptance of higher apparel pricing, whether domestic or offshore.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Speculative Sampling

One of the most difficult things I have to deal with on a daily basis is the phone call that starts with "I want to start a clothing line, and need samples". There is often a long pause, as I wait for information relative to the specifics of the clothing they want to make. The difficulty is finding a nice way to determine whether this potential customer wants the samples as a final step towards producing or needs them to either see what their vision looks like in real life or to use for enticing prospective customers. Most often, the purpose is to show prospective customers in order to create interest , and possibly orders. We call these types of requests speculation samples, as their purpose is strictly speculative in nature.

There are other reasons samples are requested as well. Often it is for the purpose of pricing the garments. When this request is up front, it reflects a lack of preperation of the requestor. Anyone planning to launch a clothing line had best prepare a business plan. In the preparation of the plan you are forced to review competition within the channels of distribution you plan to sell. By looking at the price points at retail of these targeted styles it is simply a math excercise to work backwards to where you must be to sell the garment to that retailer/mass merchant/boutique/etc. A terrific book is available entitled "Costing for Profit" and is available at .

In order to produce samples that could be used as sales samples there is a profound amount of sourcing required. Finding the correct fabric in the correct color is nearly impossible, so one has to make the fabric and sample dye it. Sample dyeings typically require a full roll of fabric, which is usually 50-70 yards. If trim fabrics are needed they also must be made up. Correct samples of the appropriate findings (zippers, buttons, bindings etc) in colors that match are another toughie. If embellishment is wanted then screens must be burned, embroidery tapes digitized, transfers made up. I could go on, but you get the point that creating SALES samples is very different, and far more costly, than making FIRST samples for construction and fit approval.

Custom private label apparel manufacturing is not a process that has short front end lead times. Often there are developmental questions, such as whether a particular type of zipper will hold up in a specific type of garment dyeing. Often, this requires testing, as suppliers will not warrant their products if they undergo unpredictable processes, unless they were made with that process in mind. Experienced apparel product development departments know to ask questions, to insure componants will work together, to consider future processes(will this white yellow in a screen print dryer?). For these reasons the process takes time, and rushing usually leads to unpredicted unfortunate results.

Our advice to anyone starting out is to be prepared to spend many hundreds of dollars per style for proper development, and to provide enough lead time for the process to work correctly. If you are not at least 6 -8 months ahead of the selling season then move forward to the next season to launch. If you want speculation samples call a company that specializes in sampling, not a manufacturer.