Santa Clothes, a make-believe line
of high-end children’s 
clothing I designed
while auditing a class at Jefferson University.

The How to Produce a Fashion Line in America in 2018 and Where American Manufacturing is Headed seminar was the primary reason I attended the Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA trade show at the Javits Center in New York City, Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

The  seminar was terrific! Now I’m going to share what I learned with you!

The panel:

The moderator was Christine Daal, Fashion Business and Career Coach, Image Consultant plus Stylist from Fashion Angel Warrior LLC.

The panel consisted of three representatives from three companies:
Laura Dotolo, managing principal at Clutch MadeAnthony Lilore, Ambassador plus Sustainability All-Store from Restore Clothing; and  Eric Beroff, President at Spoiled Rotten USA, Inc. 

All four companies help entrepreneurs with producing a line locally. 
If I were to decide to produce a line, I would engage one of their companies. I found all of them to be knowledgeable, supportive, eager to answer any and all questions, and wonderful to work with.

Advantages/disadvantages of producing in the USA

The panel pointed out the advantages of producing clothing here in the USA including:
quality control, communication, small minimums, faster speed to market, and greener results/less pollution.

Some garments are too expensive to produce in the USA because they are too difficult and too laborious: garments with hand beading, T-shirts for $20, garments with no seams, polo shirts with knitted collars, garments with many pieces.

Keep it simple when producing in the USA

Engineer for efficiency. Make something simple, and make it here in the USA.
The USA is about innovation.
  • Small number of pieces in a garment.
  • One or two items – a line of clothing is not a good idea
  • Reduce the number of colors, fabrics, and trims.
  • No lining if possible
  • Minimal garment details
  • Reduce the number of sizes
  • Quantity – the lower the quantity, the higher the cost
  • Be organized and prepared – if you need a lot of help, the factory may not want to work with you.
  • Do online inspections, if possible find a factory that does all under one roof
  • Remember that human beings are making 90% of your product

What you need to know about manufacturing your product

  • You need to take responsibility for your business
  • Manufactures take big customers’ orders first – four to six weeks may not be enough lead time
  • Have to be put on the manufacturer’s schedule
  • Not all factories are honest
  • Not all factories made good products – ask to see samples of their work
  • Do research, see if the factory can make your product
  • If you have a wide range of products you probably won’t find a factory that can do everything
  • Most factories are not vertical – they don’t do everything start to finish (Clutch Made DOES offer this—and this is what sets Clutch apart)
  • A lot of factories don’t do the cutting in house because they can’t afford the space
  • Don’t quit your day job
  • Prepare a budget
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking manufacturing is easy
  • Forget about designing socks – USA is one of the world’s top manufacturers of socks -their  huge orders mean you won’t be considered
  • Most factories want to make a sample, even if you supply one. They want to know first hand just what is involved in making your product

Red flags

  • If the factory can start right away they aren’t busy enough
    (Clutch Made can get most people started right away, as they offer Design Consults, tech packs, sourcing, sample making, social media, production: so there are other avenues in the process which are extremely necessary to get started on—so this is NOT a RED FLAG for the platform that they offer with their factory services.)
  • Ask for the factory’s certification. If the factory isn’t certified, look elsewhere.

 What you need to get an estimate from a factory

  • Go to a consultant – go with the consultant to the factory she recommends. Many factories won’t see a start-up unless with a consultant
  • Find out if the factory can make your product
  • Set up an appointment to see the factory – don’t show up unannounced
  • Ask What is your specialization?
  • Show a sample – it can be someone else’s sample – to give the factory an idea of what you want made
  • Prepare a tech pack which should include Specs – the product’s measurements, yardage, number of pieces, choice of fabric; and a sketch of the product
  • Don’t ask the factory to sign  a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
  • Have a list of questions, follow up with a thank you email
  • Don’t make crazy demands
  • Take responsibility for your business
  • Ask questions – keep it moving
  • Don’t ask for price points on many designs – just one price point will give the idea of costs
  • Ask right in the beginning, What happens if many of the garments are damaged?

How to work with the factory

  • View your relationship with the factory as a partnership
  • Be in the factory to make sure the garments are made correctly
  • Get samples, either while in the factory, or ask the factory to send samples

A concept board used to present ideas of possible garments
that a buyer might consider for sale in her store.
Showing concept boards to buyers before making samples
saves time and effort. Buyers have bought garments directly from
established manufactures’ concept boards before any of the garments were
cut and sewn.

Thanks for reading.

Your comments are most welcome – Laurel

Look for the article about seam allowance modification that I wrote for Threads Magazine. It will be in their 199 issue that will be on the newsstands in late August (2018). 



Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2018.  

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