You are hereStart a Clothing Line-where are the roses and the champagne?

Start a Clothing Line-where are the roses and the champagne?

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Start a Clothing Line was just the first step..

I started my journey in March 2008 after getting worried emails from family and friends all wondering what I was up to during my adventures traveling through Asia. I needed a place where everyone that (bothered:-) could follow me, a place where they could see how the clothes slowly came to life (my own collection that is) and of course say hello if they felt like it.

As my travels slowed down and I settled happily in New Zealand I wanted to make this Blog in to something more then just "I'm in Delhi, making a Tunic, what are you up to?"..so after some brainstorming and basic 'gut feelings' I turned it into what I desire the most, a place where I write about my 'must haves' and general desires, I have long Wish list. I also like to squeeze in some personal notes while connecting with fellow fashionistas and sharing my ever on-going projects..so that's me, Alice & Hot Cake..

 

Below is more of a Story about the whole journey. From turning 28, falling in love, buying a one way ticket to Thailand and the adventures that followed, bare in mind, I wrote this almost 2 years ago and feel as if I have improved a bit since then (I'm Swedish and writing in English has been a bit of a challenge but I tend to excel and broaden my vocabulary, specially since I've recently married a Kiwi and don't plan to use Swedish that much:) Warm Welcome! Hugs/Alice

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how to start a clothing line

First a plane ride to Bangkok, Thailand where I mainly had a lookout for Wholesalers, then Malaysia for a quick stop, and after that Indonesia where I ended up finding everything except the Manufacturers. A flight to China, Shenzhen and famous Guangzhou for more sourching. Got some help from a local sourching agent called Bill (they find the Manufacturers and will act as a qlty controller and manage the deals on spot, he would have costed 7% of the order) but China is big, almost to big specially if your looking towards making a qnty of 25 pcs per design. A lot of "no" and rejections from Factories or the price simply got to steap. Went from Shenzhen to Beijing and then Vietnam.

start clothing line

Me and Bill in China, Senzhen having a look at the many Wholesellers

With new energy from beeing a member at Alibaba trade service I got finally got some better contacts I started emailing other Vendors. In Vietnam I found it easy to buy fabrics and finding local tailors that could make my 1 Samples and with better facilities, eventhough it's a lot of gesturings and simple English (sometimes crazy mishaps)at least the collection started to look better with so much inspiration from China, it's a great platform for all trends and the young generation is soo trendy!

After some what okay sampling I still needed a better set up and went to Cambodia. There I trough (local tailor ) made some samples, but this time in a bigger qnty, about 6-18 pcs of each, mixing it up in sizes according to my measurements. But after weeks of going back and front, printing labels at 3 different Print Houses and making hangtags and necklabels with the qlty not up to standard  I still wanted to experiment with different ideas, how to find a small enough but still bigger vendor?.

 start a clothing line

Shopping for coconut buttons in the "Russian Market" in
Phnom Penh,Cambodia

With a Swedish contact I finally sent over 40 samples to Stockholm to try them out in a Clothing Store. This turned out to be a big misstake, the central post office was part of a scam, asking me to pay for Airmail with a 2 week delivery time, instead the samples where sent through boat wich ment 1-3 months arrival, big delay for my Autumn Collection and when they finally arrived I got complaints of smell, the boat was probably a dark, oily and moist place.

 

The silk screen print shop I found in Phnom Penh Cambodia, made 100 labels with the help of my memory card.

Then more complaints of my samples, the washing instructions and country of origin must be placed on each sample, all clothes have to have washinstructions, that was the most important thing..being handtailored they didn't (and me being so proud of finally getting "made in Cambodia" labels on them).

The clothes was instead giving me a lot of trouble and I felt like just booking that flight home, surrender and get back to selling jeans in the store instead..I tried to remind myself that this was not an easy task and my dream.  A phone call home would probably cheer me up, but according to my mom "over 90 percent of the 'up and comming' designers parish during the first 3 years, the small 10 percent that do survive can work for at least 10 years if they are lucky". Not good odds for an already faithless backpacker...

So there I was, towards Bangkok again when the samples started to arrive, my first collection sent and they didn't even like it. Either the price where to steap or the buttons where loose, fit wasn't ok..oh it felt like such a waste of time and money.

When arriving in Bangkok I started working with wholsale brands and kept on sketching but lost a bit of heart in Cambodia. With a final flight booked to India I gave it one more go..

The first collection before sending it, 9 pcs per parcel with a  handmade packing list..Theese samples ended up on a Boat instead of a Airplane with a  2 months delay..

India was a crowded and busy place. I found a guy through Alibaba trade site and he met me up at the airport in Delhi. Lucky I'll say for the parking lot outside was wild! After getting a room in Kalkaji he met me up the second day, me naive and pretty tired of managing the deals and all the talk got ensured that he was going to help me get my sketches into reality. He talked a lot, bragging about his career as a factory manager in Africa and all his other factories placed both in India and China. I never gave it a thought that he might be something else than the actual owner of the factory. Days went by, he arranged visits 2 factories where I showed my designs and talked about pricing. One of the factories offered about 15 US Dollar per pcs, just simple cotton designs while the other alternative had a problem keeping the prices under 40 US Dollar. So now with all information in my hands I would have done it differently. To save time I should have had at least 3 factory meetings, leaving sketches with them..making the exact same garments for all three to then negotiate price and compare workmanship and qlty, check if the mouth is where the hands are..well something like that.

A special technique made of wax painting to make a reversed print,Indonesia Bali
 

Instead there was a lot of time waisted by talking, driving around and not actually getting any results. After a few meetings with the cheaper Vendor I wasn't to happy about the garments, thinking about the mess in Cambodia, buttons falling off and still not that torned vintage look that I was after. Why was it so hard to make it exactly the way I wanted it?

Finally a label attached, 250 printed texts on one whole black strip

The guy that so eagerly helped me out now confessed that he was an Agent, wanting a share of the order, now a bigger mess. Why didn't I ask sooner, why didn't he say anything as well? Tired of people trying to cheat and lie, I turned (by my own surprise) to an angry monster. After a quick meeting with his collegue she confessed that I also need to pay for sampling and that sampling prices are really high due to small qnty, so I was going to pay for the the half crappy first samples that was made by the cheaper vendor. I turned red, why is this information brought to me now! I don't like not knowing and being lied to, I growled. Parts of my budget was already spent on mocking around in Delhi and I didn't want any more losses, I simply had enough. How much, I asked with steam comming out of my ears. His collegue turned quiet, it can be a lot becouse sampling is so much harder and in a single addition, mabye 3000 rupies a pcs, she looked down at her shoea? That might not seem extreme but for the amount of samplesthat I had pree made I was furiuous, the whole visit was a charade and I seemed to be the clown...

 

Slamming a phone on the supposeably friendly but untrusty "agent" I was free. No more long car trips to different fabric shops and more time spent on creating and thinking on more projects to come..I had yelled my way out of this mess..

Me in one of my first Autumn Collection Samples-Okt 2008

 The Story about me..Alice

When I was 20 I went to Italy, Accademia Italiana Moda e Design School in Firenze, Florence. It was an intense year and I experienced everything from a daily desire to take that next flight home to loving the collection work and wearing gloves and knitted cardigans to bed since the small gas source never seemed to warm up the dorm. But then again a great platform that has taken me a few miles on the way to where I am today..

My name is Alice and I am now 32... So how do you go about chasing a desirable goal? I quit my job as a sales assistant at a Fashion Store and in March 2008 I set off with my backpack and pantone pencils with the plan to do some travelling around South East Asia and find that magic place where all your garments on paper becomes reality. Mainly due to the high labour costs in Sweden (where I'm from) South East Asia looked like a good place to put some of my ideas into actual items. I have had a wonderful trip so far, started off in the heat of Bangkok, went from crowded city strips to remote islands and white beaches, just as seen in all the travel magazines I read dreaming off during short breaks when I was at work. I also had a secret motto (except just making a label and try to make a name in the fashion market) and that is do everything before thirty. It's contains doing stuff that I, the chicken would normally stay away from. It’s easier in my comfort zone, drawing and dressing up. So off with all the makeup, the flat ironer was packed but not used and then ready for some sports. I started with a 18 meter dive and open water certificate at Koh Tao, Thailand, then brave enough for slippery surf boards in Bali, Indonesia and then to climb and walk the Great Wall of China, some muddy trekking in the north of Vietnam and Kite Surfing at windy beaches in Mui Ne. In between I've manage to create and create, motorbikes in monsoon rain protecting samples from local tailors and learning quickly the different currency rates and how the anguage barriers get more difficult the further remote you are, was signing and waving around a lot in the small fishing village of Phan Thiet and made last minutes orders resulting in nerve wrecking wait in Phom Pehn, Cambodia (with just 5 minutes before the bus leaving to Angkor Wat) the tailor came running as the bus driver was waiting.

 

Kitesurfing in Mui Ne, Vietnam

Surfs up at Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia

Climbing the Great Wall of China, Beijing

I have really been there and done it during my now 15 month’s long trip throughout Asian countries and North Island of New Zealand. Still travelling at the moment exploring the home of the Kiwis in an old Bedford Ambulance.

The testing and somewhat clumsy sampling by using local tailors in S.E-Asia is a memory, I am now really excited with what I have designed/produced in Delhi, India. So now it's just touching up the labels and the order will arrive soon, I am out to make my dream come true,the Holy Grail (worth chasing) you might call it since it's not far from the truth...

 

I will be posting as often as I can so that you can follow my missions, packed with all the "know how’s" and "what not's" in starting a women’s clothing label. The ups and downs and I hope that you take something away and learn from my experience, and by all means have a good laugh and share some thoughts with me and others in the forum. If you have any questions about how to start your own clothing label or anything fashion, please feel free to ask in my fashion forum..
 
Rgds! Alice
 

To watch my journeys on YOUTUBE.COM click here my Fashion Videos

 

Strapless corsets | Victorian Corsets | Buy A corset | Satin Corset | New Fashion Designers

 

FTC DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS. I aim to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that (i) I sometimes receive free products from marketers that we sometimes review or discuss in our editorials, and (ii) I may run advertisements on my site concerning some of those products or companies that sell them (and other products sold by such companies) for which we sometimes receive compensation

Alice, thank you for so generously sharing your amazing journey! I am currently in Thailand, would like to source pre-made clothes and accessories to sell online, but have no idea where to begin?

Do you have any advice or tips for me (someone who also has a dream to be my own boss!) on where to source good-quality, reliable and professional Thai suppliers of cheap garments and accessories please?

I know you are designing your own beautiful range - but I'm sure you'll have some kind advice and experience to share with me with regards to pre-made clothes in Thailand, please : ) ***

It's so great to hear such a hands-on experience! I work with new t-shirt start-ups on a daily basis. Here’s an article I’ve written on key tips to follow when starting a clothing label. Enjoy! http://bit.ly/T6LLnf

This sort of clever work and reporting! Keep up the terrific works guys I've added you guys to my personal blogroll
http://fabricbeanbagchairs.shutterfly.com/22

Hi, i really love your passion for fashion, i love that you had a dream and went for it. i read your story and it's inspiring,i have had the same dream.. only quite not the same... i want to start my own fashion line first, but then build on and add accessories, shoes ..so forth. i love fashion and know quite a lot. i love how coco chanel put's it. you must know her qoutes:) , anyway feel free to look for me on facebook i go as tatiana tati. and please tell me what you know.. you must have learned a lot from your trips. i learned this, you learn as you grow, and fashion changes as people change. you never get to old to learn about something that you love! i am crazy about fashion.. i would love to have my own fashion show one day! i hope when you get this message you been creatin new apparel.. so i can buy some of your own creative fashion!xoxo.. fierce love and fashion !

Hello,

I have come across your blog and loved reading this. I have just started my own label and after two years of investing in the wrong people to make the dream come true I have started an Australian Made label. Thankyou for this, its so inspiring and makes me see there is going to be some happy ending to this dream.

Amber " Rare Robin Sleepwear"

Hi buddy Interesting blo. Waiting for more updates, can't wait !

I'd like you to know that I'm a fan of yours. I read your study "About ME" all the way down. I'm totally impressed. I couldn't believe that you were actually been travelling back and forth in places I'm in - Bangkok and Cambodia - and had a hard time at that for the sake of your dream. I'm so glad you made. You're an example of faith! I'd like to know more about your collection.

Hi Alice,

I just stumbled on your videos on youtube and followed through your blog now. You can't imagine how I felt when I read about your stories with the garment manufacturers all across Asia! I share the same dream of starting up my own label and have set things in motion the last couple of weeks. I've actually relocated in South East Asia with the idea that I would find garments manufacturers more easily...well, it's easier said then done! I'm now waiting for my samples from India but am a little bit suspicious about the outcome and quality (I've seen some pictures)
It's such a difficult journey and at the same time it's also the most exciting experience!
Anyway, it was good to discover your blog and read about someone who shared the same experience :)
I really wish you the best for your brand!
H

well being pressurized by home i have to leave my place and have to travel 350km away :( ,lack in support to start of my label

Hi!

You wrote to my blog earlier; thank you for leaving a comment to my blog. Girl you are living my dream life!!! You are living in NZ you went to the fashion school in Firenze and now you are a designer? Did I get it right?

 Hi! Thanks for your comment, yes..I studied in Firenze, Florens Italy and then went back to Sweden where I worked as an Assistant Buyer at H&M clothing company. After that I worked as a Casting Assistant for a Model Agency and then in numerous stores and restaurant while dreaming about making it big in the Fashion Industry. After saving for a looong time;-)I quit my job and packed my bags.
 
After that I have travelled for a year in Asia, seeing most countries and checking Manufacturers, shipments, Wholesalers and lots more..now in New Zealand still working with my Indian Vendor making the First serious collection, a party collection-sample pictures can be viewed here..corsets click here, the wrap jackets click here..

 
So now I'm in New Zealand and I'm trying to both sell the brand but also view possible Manufacturing options locally. It's and ongoing job and I'm creating,thinking and perhaps talking about this most hours of the day and there is now days off but I couldn't be happier. I have worked hard since I was 15, both extra and fulltime while both studying and growing. So for me it's amazing not having a 'mean' boss, I seemed to have had that in every job I have ever had, they are all grumping in the morning, swearing and spilling coffee, and my god I have secretly wished just to leave there and then..But I have pride myself by sticking it out but also wonderful to now( finally I might add)just pack my bag and leave all that behind..for now a bit of a struggle just making it all happen but also exciting, atleast I'm doing it..
Thanks for your comment and always warm welcome back to Hot Cake Fashion..
Regards/Cheers Alice

I absolutely love your story and i have some similar ones myself. As labeled in the subject my name is Phillip and i just got trademark rights to my fashion company. I also flew to italy and lived in Florence for a year where i met with some manufactures but was disappointed in the ethics of how they wanted to do business. But i learned my lesson and grew up some. I then very boldly approached Gucci and asked for help. Ha! The worse and best mistake ever. After being yelled at for my immaturity of attempting to for-fill every position of my company he placed a call to a dear friend of his that so happened to be a buyer for Barney's New York. After an amazing meeting she asked the fatal question " I love your collection and ideas, when can i see some samples" it made my heart drop. I just knew that they would have picked up the bill and purchased the samples and then purchased the pieces they wanted but i was oh so wrong. The good thing is my name and presentation left an impression. She told me that i could come back and then she would purchase. My job was to come home and find the money but its not an easy task, what pisses me off ( excuse my french ) is how can so many people love my collection and no one want to put up the money to at-least get the samples made. So i guess my question would be, outside of what are you doing now? But how did you get the money to do all that you did? I could really use some friendly advice from a person that is attempting to do what i am doing. All my family thinks im crazy and none of my friends understand. Fashion is a plague it takes over and the move in tune i get with my creative cycles the more i push a lot of non-fashion people away. Please if you could find time in your life to help another young designer, it would be awesomely appreciated. You can also visit my unfinished website to contact me . I think your amazing to have done what you did and doing and i love the sample pictures above. I do think i use the idea of creating samples overseas, my only concern is quality. My company is a luxury life-style design studio truly encompassing the meaning of luxury. I really look forward to your response Alice and please be careful over there. especially now. May the gift of creation and the power of belief help you achieve your goals. - Pgarrett

 
Hi Philip!
 
I think I have written to you two times now, he he and every time I'm uploading the text some magical, well not wonderful technique-failure occurs leaving me with a blank space where it two minutes ago was filled with heaps of text! So starting over, but hopefully even better this 'threes a charm' time.
 
Well, I'm not a quitter and am determined to see this through(it's like a mission now, me against the computer). I was glad to hear that you gave me thumbs up when it came to me setting off in the world and to design and make a label/collection. I have made samples in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and have visited wholesalers in China and Indonesia while the final decision landed on a Manufacturer in India. To simplify things since you where most keen on getting some first hand tips on where to make it, the cost and how to actually afford it I have written as clear as I can but please keep asking if there is more info about a specific subject you might want.
 
Hope this might be of any help..Let's get started!
 
How to afford to start a clothing brand and how to calculate on estimated costs?
 
First, set up what quality you want. (from your letter I understand that its a high fashion brand where the quality is very important). It's good to not 'cheat' on this matter, some might strive to find cheaper ways of making the cloths to then sell them at a higher rate, this could back-slasch since fashion aware customers will be the target group and the will know the difference! The price per piece will still remain your decision since your the one that has to calculate on a profit, but then again, being a new designer everyone keeps telling me not to think in terms of profit yet, and be as humble as possible. Making money will be the last goal on the scale, for now the main focus is building up a successful and hopefully long lasting fashion business and for that you have to start with the Manufacturer.
 
Having a good dependable Manufacturer is the most important thing for you right now.
 
To save money the best thing and perhaps most common thing for a new and young designer is by sewing and making the garments himself, this also saves a lot of time sending samples back and forth. Instead you make the sample according to your exact wishes and then perhaps(if you want) more garments in that design you simply send the 'physical' sample that you have made and ask the Manufacturer to 'copy' it. This means quicker results and cheaper since a lot of Manufacturers take out a special fee for just making a first Sample Collection. The vendors knows that it's time consuming and a lot of work coordinating with a new customer and new samples therefor count on a higher sum per pieces than when the production starts. It's all because of the fabric as well, they have to buy small qntys in the fabric; sample price and not by bulk which is heaps cheaper.
All of us aren't Leonardo Da Vinci when it comes to sewing, well I'm not the master either and feel more comfortable drawing then struggling by the machine. So of course, making samples just by sending sketches is well worth it and durable as well. So what is the cost for making a piece of clothing? Depending on who you use and where of course. I'll give some examples though.
Cambodia; 1 pcs of shirt (material provided by me) fabric 2 US/meter, striped cotton and buttons, wood including label that was in a silk print on a raw linen qlty and a front print made from computerized print studio all about 2 US and then the labor/tailoring 9 US.
 
So total; 13 US, on top comes shipping and Hang Tags, print Business cards and in some ways calculating on time and effort. The shipping is often around 20 US/Kg-kilo
 
This is just a local tailor and the problem here is that it doesn't lead anywhere, I mean, if I where to get an order on this particular piece I wouldn't be able to take it. So in the end, your better off using a good set up from start.
 
The Manufacturer differs between how they work, in which qnty's and I have found it challenging in finding anyone that can make my clothes under a qnty of 300 pcs/total order. I just wanted to experiment and try them out, so in China I found the cheapest price but then again, the risk of mass producing and copying my samples where high and for me to get my hands on a 7 US/pcs price on
for example a dress the qnty was 1000 pcs! Who in their right mind would like to get stuck with that amount. Making samples in Vietnam was by far the cheapest bur also the grimiest, receiving samples with no sizes and too short sleeves, bad fit and wrong buttons.
The best source for getting hands on at least a good selection of Manufacturers to choose from is http://www.alibaba.com. It's free to become a member and after logging in you simply put a request out asking to find a Manufacturer that can for example handle a small order for this and that price. You will get heaps of 'mass' answers and often impersonal and quite stiff onces. But let that pass and start emailing to find the one that you connect with the best and that can meet your demands.
 
So that's where I found my Indian contact and with my Vendor I have the last two and a half month created both samples and now put in my very first 'real I might add' order. Then again, we have had some payment problems and of course on the way misunderstandings. I have received samples that are so wrong that I have begun to wonder what kind of picture I really sent. Then again it takes time building up a language that you both can read and understand, they have to know your style and how you think.
 
The success will come when the delivery time is punctual and the vendor gets it right, without that your new boutique or buyer might never make an order with you again, you have to build up a trust that you always deliver and that the qlty maintains as well as the target price (small changes is always acceptable).
Starting up a brand the main costs is:
Promotion/setting up a website/logo/making a catalog/printing posters and so on..
Some of these cost can of course be cut, you might know someone or simply do most of the designs and website building yourself. Also, if you have a great First Sample Collection and find an Agent that are willing to take you on they will promote you and your brand, so most of the costs and arrangements will be on their behalf. Try to get the Agent to work commission based since paying someone will be though in the beginning.
 
Then you have the sample making/ a good amount of clothes,designs to start with is between 8 and 12 garments. Best to make two sets of them with a Manufacturer. So in total say 24 garments.
 
One to give to perhaps your Barney contact or an Agent and the other one great reference for you, just by simply wearing it, showing it off and photograph it.
 
These 24 garments, depending on where you make them and in which qlty (a sense a 'Armani' style-price collection with you?) well say 50-100 US/pcs. I'm making hand tailored party corsets in pure silk with heavy embroideries for 52 US/per pcs. Say 60 US in your case.
 
So that would be 1.440 US (that's including wash-labels, hang-tags and neck-labels) but you have to supply the measurements for them and the designs.
 
And then there is the shipping, I pay 540 Rupees per/kg and have been counting on 3-5 pcs in a kg (my onces are a bit heavy, jackets and so on) and you should search for an independent Quality Control Firm that inspects the shipment (some Manufacturers have their own staff doing that, but I recommend having a neutral part inspecting it) the garments and the quality, they charge I think around 7-15% on the order, but if your only making Samples it's not necessary.
 
Then you have to think about the payment system, how do they prefer to be paid? Through TT Remittance or Bank Transfer, which one, this could be a small cost for you as well..My payment ended up costing 20 Pounds.
 
After that it's all up to you which other arrangements you would like to have done, I would stay away from renting a place/office in the beginning and keeping a low profile. The best investment is by far your own time and having a Lap top that makes you available and by that you have a small office.
 
Having a professional email address helps and of course paying for Trademark registration and Copyright..personally I don't know that much about it so here Philip I would be glad to be filled in about how much you have paid and where you chosen to protect your name and logo?
 
My best tips and final one is letting it take a bit of time and not rushing it too much, I know it's hard since I have done almost the opposite “learning by doing”. But, well, all ways are good onces as long as you learn from them and grow as you go, right?
 
Then again, it is wise to not just jump off the job you might have to chase this dream, being without money will put a lot of stress on you and it might lead to hasty decisions and desperate sales. The best is to work part time while finding a Manufacturer/Vendor of your taste, trying different once out by making samples here and there. It will take about five weeks to even start receiving the samples as well. For some more info please check out my You tube Videos; http://www.youtubevideos.com/user/hotcake fashion/
Hope you found some answers in this text and please let me follow your trip as well. I would like it if you wanted to put your story up here on Hot Cake Fashion and maybe show some of your designs?

I'm always keen to support and help other dreamers and designers..I'll bet your going far!
Let's keep in touch!
Rgds! Alice

 
Have a question or just wondering about something? Feel free to put in anything and i'll do my best to answer it!

 
 

Hi Alice, your travels are amazing and so interesting. I couldn't stop reading your blog.

I am creating a fashion label in the uk. I have brought together 6 graduate designers to form the brand. They are making their own samples and I intend to showcase the collection at major trade shows in the UK. Once I have orders placed I will be getting the orders fulfilled with an overseas manufacturer. Do you have any contact details of manufacturers in India that you would recommend?

kind regards

Paul

Hi Paul, thanks for your comments..I'm flattered!I have worked with a Manufacturer and an Agent. The good thing of having an Agent is that you send the designs directly to him and ask him for target price and other demands, he then source a Manufacturer or several for you. They make a Sample and 'compete' about getting you as a client which means you will be able to pick and choose between different options, the Agent also provide you with quality control and make sure that the Manufacturer keeps their deadline, what I didn't know is that the Agent takes 7% as a commission on the entire order. Since nobody told me this I was quite upset and ended working with the Agent. This however is (thinking back) well worth it since my Manufacturer didn't reach my deadline dates for delivery. I think, if I had 'my Agent' pushing her a little the dates would have probably been reached. To find a Manufacturer it's best to search aliexpress.com or even better alibaba.com, I used Alibaba when I found my Manufacturer and Agent (you need to sign up for a FREE account and then put a LEAD up, meaning ask for a Manufacturer to make an order for you and then you will be contacted, to avoid millions of emails not suitable for your needs don't forget to customize the lead as much as possible, write: small orders for example, and put the country like India as a choice so you don't get all these Chinese companies that only deals in orders over a 1000 pieces per Design. 

xx Alice

 

Hi Alice,
I'm glad to have come across your blog as i was in the same venture however i didnt try going to many countries like you did I am a Thai-Indian from Bangkok. I do not have any background in fashion but through inspiration while traveling and passion to start up a business i found suppliers in india through research online and went there since my concept was a touch of Indian fusion. I visited many factories there and got samples made i had to return 4 of them to get it remade and is still waiting for it to arrive back here for about a month already!
What i would like ask you is did you get anything made in Bangkok because i see you mentioned dealing with wholesellers did but did you actually get anything made here as well or got the ready made clothes from the wholesellers? If you did comparing to India and Bangkok where do you think has a better deal i know since i live in Bangkok and also speaks Thai sometimes i feel it would be better for me to get them done here but i dont know i havent done that much of a research coz this idea only came up when i got back from India and saw some suppliers getting fabrics from India and stitching it here it would save me money on shipping for sure...but why i'm being a bit hesitant is because in Thailand people love to copy just like in China. 
 
What is your advise? and how is your business doing?
 
 
Thanks alot
 
Areena
 
 
 

Hi Areena!
Thanks for your question/India VS Bangkok.
Since your Thai speaking I would go for production in Thailand, for sure. India as you know is a bit tricky, slow moving and can be to say the least a challenge. I'm lucky finding a vendor that maintain quality but have had some vendors producing samples that just made me silent, looking at them and I kept asking myself..who in their right mind would buy this. So washing and fit is hard to get right and you seem to be stuck waiting for new samples. That isn't the best of situations to be in but as long as you haven't promised delivery to anyone it's okay,try by the way not to start in that end before you really have a vendor that you trust and that meets the deadlines.

Fun by the way that your doing it, I mean just trying and experimenting. Maybe we should have a coffee here in Bangkok?;-)anyways, great to hear that your out there and in them same situation as me. I'm also thinking of making a small basic wear collection to go with the more fancier items so have been looking but not hard enough I guess. The wholesaler that I've checked out is the touristy Pratunam that you surly know about..;-)

You could have a look at alibaba.com and search good vendors there, at least get quotes and start to compare prices. If you find anything always glad if you want to share and also update us all here at Hot Cake how everything is progressing for you. I have a good vendor that is both flexible and has become a very good friend, it is after all important to also like each other and be able to 'read' what both want. Then again, India is more expensive then I first expected but: as you said less risk of copying, in China where I've been recently they are really copying everything. I have been emailing a vendor in Turkey that says their pretty strict in copying laws and safe to deal with but then there is that 20-50 euro per pcs problem, for basic wear I might add..

I'll say check some manufacturers in Thailand and create a 'personal' contact with them, then it's easier to 'read' if they are serious about their business and their customers and that itself will minimize the risk of your designs being copied, but that happening is always a risk so don't let that worry you from keeping designing.

Welcome to Hot Cake Fashion Areena and looking forward to following your journey as well..
Best rgds! Alice

Hi Alice,
 
Thanks alot for your reply! so far the countries you've been where is the cheapest place to buy fabric...especially silk, georgette?
Regarding Alibaba i have registered with them long back and i keep getting emails of interested buyers but when i want to email them back it says i have to pay a fees to get access to their email! Otherwise it takes 3 or more days then i can get an access to their email. So i dont really understand how it works?
I see up there you were asking for more information regarding trademark just to share i just paid 5000 baht for TM the name of the company, the logo and the slogan and to Trademark i never knew before that i had to TM for per item for instance Clothes - 500 baht for top 500 for dress then 500 for skirt basically they breakdown everything and im even selling bags and jewelry so i thought its going to be so crazy to TM everything i have ill just go bankrupt right away lol. Anyways so i did whats the main items and now im trying to copyright my logo i had to describe everything in detail for them first they werent agreeing so now im re-writing everything again ill probably have to eventually bribe them i guess thats what they want? since they are being so difficult.
Let me know when you come to Bangkok again we should meet up!:)
 
Cheers,
Areena

Hi Areena!
I have to do some research on this topic..will put some articles on it soon..think we all need it:-)
I'm a member of alibaba and nobody needs to pay for emailing theese vendors,a tip is that you put up a lead and let them contact you. I have just put up a new lead comparing more prices but only found one manufacturer in thailand, best is probably india or bangladesh(they have a lot of business)then again I just started doing some emailing yesterday and then minimum was 200 pcs..far away from what I wanted, well to big that is. So we will see?Nobody of the vendors want to speak about prices,really bugs me not to have all the information out in the open, all they want is to get pictures to make sample, why waste time waiting for a sample and then get a quote way to high?
By the way, I'm in Bangkok now, levaving in a few days..lot on my mind trying to make the best of it while Im still on the road travelling. If you have any ready samples I have a contact in Australia that are looking for new designers, but little bit last minute..they are arranging everything now and you have to be there in person, I don't think I will make it still waiting for the rest of the collection from india, my vendor is in paris. 
Thanks for the info about TM, I haven't even started with that(don't tell anyone,he he)I know that you sometimes have to TM different products but I wouldn't recomend it. It's better if you focus on the name,logo. Do that TM only if you have a product that is totally unique on the market, hardly worth having a pair of pants that are worth that hassle, you will design new stuff as well so..they will simply change size and form anyways. Your TM is cheap, what company did you go through?, I think the prices I looked at is like 700 US but that is for Sweden,Norway,Denmark,Finland/nordic countries, you have to think wich countries you want to sell in as well. Lot's that is, they have a worldwide one as well, but I'm thinking more Europe and perhaps Australia and New Zealand.
Keep me updated, so fun talking to you..
All the best for now..rgds! Alice;-)

Hey Alice,
Let me know if you would like to me meet up tomorrow ill be going to Emporium we can sit and talk more. Regarding the Australian vendor they looking for a designer not a supplier right? because i only design few clothes since im not a designer but i have ideas and all so for now i only got one of my own design sample made by a designer in India who turned out to make everything wrong because she left it on her employee how careless!! but good that the guy that took me to her hes taking the whole responsibility for it and hes making a new one for me it was good that i accidentally found this guy at the station first i was trying to avoid him because we already had our car coming to pick me up just like all other taxi drivers in India he was also pushing real hard to convince me to go with him and since he also deals with the hotel we were staying in the guy at the hotel said i can go with this driver as well and fortunately looks like he knows all the factories and all in Jaipur and Delhi. So good for me in this case.
I didnt know theres a TM for worldwide coz i asked them and they said the TM has to be done at that very country so basically if you get a TM in thailand it only covers Thailand i got it done at Ministry of commerce. Doing this i just didnt want anyone to copy my company name and logo but since they couldnt copyright the name they can only TM it....pretty complicated.
 
Anyways let me know if you want to meet up.
 
Cheers,
 
Areena

 Hi Areena!
Yes that would be fun, we could combine it with some shopping?, I need 'as always' get some more good photos for the blog and some finds in the wardrobe:-)Would it be ok if I could interview you a little, making a small collection of designer dreams here at Hot Cake, and everyone that's trying deserves to be on the spotlight atleast one time;-)So yes, would be really nice meeting up. We can arrange time and exact place(just email me:hotcakefashion@gmail.com)and I'll answer you there.
Great to hear the story about India, feel the same way,misshappenings and a bit chaotic to say the least. Would be fun to see your samples, do you have anything to bring with you tomorrow?
Well, signing off for now, looking forward hearing from you..
Cheers Alice

Hi Alice,

I have a question when you get your things shipped and if it turns out bad do you return it? Since its the supplier faults for supplying the defected things do you pay for shipping it back as well? I'd like to know how you handling it

Thanks alot

AREENA

 Hi Areena!
Thanks for your question..
I would like to know if the samples that your not happy with is First Samples, just 'test' samples or if you have received a whole collection?
I have just received my First Samples, wich I might add is often filled with changes that needs to be done, all you do is take photos and easy comment on them, the changes you want and then email it to the Manufacturer.
To be extra sure that the Manufacturer understands the changes, ask them to in their turn photgraph the new samples and then with your approval send it. Note that this can take a few samples before final sample and everything is approved by you. If it's a bigger order I would like you to hire a company called, Quality Control. They will go through all your samples before shipment and will also handle shipment on your order, this can cost between 7-15% of the whole order but is worth it, no Vendor is perfect..and vendors actually like to have that Quality Control company to work on the order because sometimes it's not just the Vendors fault, they often doesn't have time to approve all the cloths and a simple mistake can easily be done by some of their workers..
Would like to know if it's your whole order or just a few samples, but if it is the whole order I would probably ask for discounted rate(never pay the whole order in advance, maximum 30% to 50%)and then the rest upon arrival, this makes it easier for you as a customer to simply refuse to pay more until the problem is solved, saying that it depends on the severity of the samples. If it's small faults you could also have it sold as seconds..(this is duable for a established brand)..
Ok..hope you got some advice, looking forward to more info and briefing on your exciting development..Best rgds and all the best/Luck!
Alice

Hey Alice,

I'm facing the problem of manufacturers having a minimum quantity order which is very annoying since im only supplying to one boutique right now and i'm not that big yet. So i usually would want to order max 20 pcs per item certain things only 3-4 pcs if its a new sample. hOW Do u deal with such situation? coz i think even ur doing small quantities right?
Oh and are u letting the manufacturers in India ship to u here in Thailand ? how many pcs u usually order and r u going through the customs here? soo many questions im confused HELP!!

Thanks alot!!:)

Areena

Hi Areena!
Thanks for the visit and asking questions, fun helping out..;-)
First of all, if the Manufacturer doesn't want to make smaller quantity then that's something that you two should have discussed before putting a order in, remember, your the Boss.
 
What I would do is simply demand that small qnty before even talking any further about making a order. There is a dilemma tough, and that's the price. If you want the clothes cheaper you have to be willing to buy more and gamble. The best thing is if you had a Agent selling your clothes in stores before you made an order, like this:
 
1.Make Sample Collection(any manufacturer should be able to do 1-2 samples in each design before bigger order) This might cost a little bit extra but you wont have the risk of getting stuck with a lot of samples.
2.Agent or you take the sample collection and walk around to stores, book meetings and simply try to sell it.
3.The orders come in, when everything is gathered then you make the order with your manufacturer.
4.Shipping-If you go through your Manufacturer you can simply say mark boxes as : Gift or Sample, Gift is best and write the value low so it won't get picked up by customs. Make the order to be sent in 5-15 pcs per box, and that way it's split up and there will not be any problems in customs.
 
I never got samples sent to Thailand from India, the sample collection-was easy to carry with me on the airplane. Now back in New Zealand and we are going to split the order up, then again I don't have that much samples. I did post alot of boxes from Thailand to NZ, it's around 15 pcs per box and I just got 3 big boxes without any problem with customs, so don't worry about that.
 
I would instead focus on finding a Manufacturer that are patient and make small orders with you, if you say that you are new and will grow in qnty they will work with just Samples Collection or as my manufacturer does, 6-10 pcs per design. (but the price is higher)
 
Are you sure you can't work with anyone in Thailand? You could solve the problem by cooperating with a local tailor and have them make your designs in whatever qnty you want since it's still a small order (I did that in Cambodia, made in total 40 pcs with a local tailor) they are pretty cheap as well...
 
I'm always keen to hear what's happening with your collection so pleas keep me posted! and think of it like this, you are doing it, experimenting and learning a long the way..that's not a bad thing!

 
Good Luck Areena, hope I couls shed some light in your question.
Rgds! Alice

Hi Alice,

I hope you are doing great and selling well!!:)

Last time i made 2 dress sample and got them back and one is sold already im getting more order for it though. So i emailed my manufacturer in India to make more dresses and also sent him more pictures of dress i would like to make but hes asking me to send the real dress to him...it doesnt make sense though because how can i send it when i dont have them! arent pictures enough?

Also i want to know how do you decide which sample will be the only like a unique piece and which piece you should order how many? I get confused alot on this on how many pieces of dress should i make how do you go by deciding on this matter? Because you'll never know until you sell the sample itself if people likes it or not. Then if its sold, sometimes i think should i just let it be one unique piece or should i make more of it.

Since you are now in NZ how are you dealing with your manufacturers in India?

I hope you dont mind me asking soo many questions!:)

Looking forward to hear from you

Areena

Hi Areena!

I was actually thinking about emailing you, I had a look but don't have your email? If you like, please contact me with your mail, I have a business idea if your interested?

So, now to your questions..;-)

  1. You did 2 samples of one style dress? But sold one? What you should have done is make 2 pcs, one as a reference for you to keep(who knows, years from now you might want to do a re-run again?)so always save 1 for your own, it's worth every penny. The second one, you should have displayed it to different store owners or an agent?Showing it to a few store owners is the best idea, this you should do when you have a Manufacturer that you know can keep deadlines and you have a company set up and are totally ready to take orders. You should also think about having more samples, not just one dress. So sit down and create a few sketches, your style and things that works together, for say about 8-12 pieces, thats a good size to start with.

  2. Some Manufacturers wants physical samples, they will simply copy it and then send the original back to you if you ask them to, this is in one way good, it means that risk for miss-understandings is minimal and that you will get what your actually asking for. If you don't want to send the dress just provide them with as much information as you can, measurements, a fabric cutting in the material, button samples or zip sample, and more photos, back, on the side, front and a sketch-sketches are good since you can put your own comments on them.

  3. It's good if you gamble a little, you have to when it comes to Fashion, so decide to for example make 6 pcs of each, 2 small, 2 medium and 2 large depending on your set customer and the piece, if you have a mini party dress it's perhaps smarter to go for 2 xs instead of large? To get a better price it's better to order a bigger quantity..What you can do is simply try it out, make a First Sample Collection, only 1-2 First Samples of each design and ask around, show pictures to friends and Store Sellers, it seems like you have a design that did sell so as I do, gamble and at least make 6 pcs of each, thats the name of the game, you have to try, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. Having one sample in a design is really unique and it's not a way of making money, to get a profit in you need to think bigger, it's a lot of work to be put in in a design and it's not really worth the huge effort producing 1 sample? Well, then again, if you feel like working like that it's totally up to you, it would really provide the customer with a great feeling, this is the only sample available but what if the customer really wants it but the size isn't right? Go for at least 4 to 6 pcs if its even possible for the Manufacturer, many I have talked to have a minimum for 25-50 pcs and in China they simply laughed at me..

  4. Now when I'm in New Zealand it's really no different from working in India, it's still communications via email and phone calls, everything is working fine, except I would like to have even longer days since it's a lot of time spent managing Photoshop and different picture corrections. It's all about making the Manufacturer understand what you are after and what you want so it's in the end is a success!

    Areena, once again so happy that your working and following your dream, feel free to always ask me anything! Best of Luck and great to hear that you sold a piece!!

    If you ever want to display any samples here at Hot Cake you are more then welcome.. Lots of Love Alice!

 

Hello Alice I have been reading some of these comments and everyone is nerally really passionate about clothes, fabric, design and generally fashion, and following their desires! Including you! Its really lovely to read peoples stories and your replies. What a wonderful idea you have to blog all your experiences and challenges on the net.!! I have a micro childrens wear company here in the UK. I make samples to give to a couple of CMT units to make up. Its really expensive to have garments made here in the UK, ideally i would love to keep manufacture ( feeling patriotic!)within the UK, and by keeping production in the UK I have more control. However, i guess i might have to start looking at the bigger picture. My main problem is getting quality fabrics - any fabric like fleece with cute kids patterns or towelling or flannette, etc, etc. i've looked at sites in the US etc but it would be stupid to buy retail from the US when they in turn are buying wholesale from China! Super huge carbon footprint! I understand you have mentioned Alibaba but my question is - would you still use this website to source fabric factories? And would anyone talk to me if i only wanted 20/50mtr rolls of fabric? Are there any other sites i could contact? i thank you for reading and hope to hear from you soon when you are able to reply. All the best Sue :)

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I'm Alice, from Sweden, living in New Zealand with my handsome kiwi...

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