Nothing is more important than ensuring that your business is profitable, and one of the simplest ways to do so is to cut costs where you can. It can seem easy to design with no constraints, but by finding the most effective ways to cut costs in apparel design and product development, you’ll find that the savings will add up in no time. Looking to live that frugal life? Here are a few tips to get you on the right path to a full wallet and an equally full line of produced garments you can be proud of:
1. Keep Your Designs Simple: Simplify your garment designs so it’s easier for the factories to execute production. Complex styles with many technical elements increase the time it takes for garments to be constructed, whereas a simple t-shirt does not require as many time-consuming steps. Embellishments such as printing, buttons, and embroideries all add to the amount of work needed, and costs rise as a result.
2. Choose Fabrics That Are Easily Available: Ask fabric suppliers and/or the factory which fabric structures and qualities are constantly replenished. By utilizing these fabrics, you won’t need to invest in purchasing more for reorders than what you need for fear that it may not be available. And here’s an added bonus: you won’t have to wait long periods to refill reorders!
3. Limit Colour Variations: The more colors you add, the higher the costs will be (sometimes even one additional color will double your costs – yikes!). If this is your first production run, stick to a maximum of two colors. This may seem small, but there is a lot to manage and juggle, especially if the product comes in multiple sizes. A good rule of thumb is no more than two colors per each style or product.
4. Limit the Number of Styles: Start with one to six garment styles. Startups selling fewer items will minimize risk, improve manufacturing efficiencies, and help manage reasonable budgets (and who doesn’t want all that?!). Remember, less is more; too many options causes buyers to turn away. Get them to test your best garments and slowly grow as you win their loyalty.
5. Work Off of Basic Blocks: A block is a pattern silhouette that is used season after season with minor changes added. An example would be a t-shirt block – the shape remains the same, but elements such as the color, trim, or length may change, or details like a pocket may be added. As exciting as designing apparel might be, reinventing the wheel each season will significantly increase the total cost of production. Be sure to get your pattern maker to create basic blocks for your core styles; they will only need to manipulate the pattern instead of creating new ones from scratch. Basic blocks are both money and time savers because:
- You save money in pattern-making and product development
- The factory has manufactured the product before, so assumes less risk in sewing and production and can get right to it without hesitation
- If the product that has generated a lot of sales, maximize your return by using the existing and make slight modifications to create new styles
6. Ask the Factory to Source Your Fabrics: Garment factories have a larger buying power than a small brand and can directly work with the mills to negotiate the best price. Be sure to send them at least a 10” by 10” swatch of the exact quality you are looking for, and they can source if for you!
7. Research and Test Your Ideas: If you’re making a garment, make sure there is a market for it and they are willing to buy it. This might seem like a simple and obvious point, but the biggest mistake most new designers make is expecting the money to flow in regardless of what they make. Spend time gathering research by conducting surveys and focus groups. Better yet, make samples of your apparel and ask people for pre-orders before you commit to a bulk production order – this will guarantee at least a certain amount of sales, so you know you’ll get a return on them!
There are many ways to help build a successful clothing line and reducing your overall costs. By following these easy guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to seeing your dream come to life while saving a few dollars. Who doesn’t love that?!
P.S. Want to figure out if your product will be profitable before you spend the big bucks? Check out our feasibility coaching package here?
Fashion entrepreneurs – do you have any other cost-saving tips to share? What is one thing you learned about saving $$$ while designing your garments for production?