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02-02-2006
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ilovepositano's Avatar
 
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omg-i know you!! and i enjoyed your book!!! this is so funny...you know, i love to read any book that i can get my hands on about apparel..and i really really wanted to read your book after reading a review on amazon. and i asked alot of people at one point and no one (even old profs at parsons or FIT) knew where to get it-- you're the person who wrote the entrepreneurial guide to apparel manufacturing, right?? coolio- small world!!

no...i work in fashion but in a business capacity-- i'm far more anal than anyone else about P&L and business/design/manufacturing processes in apparel...actually i'd love it if you were our pattern maker because ours is russian and doesn't like to lend her expertise in patternmaking at all. we're very business-y and very open to every person along the chain.

you know, we just have different perspectives because i don't think you see it from the business perspective of comparing financial terms and business processes b/t domestic vs. international sourcing. the average US factory is relatively expensive and unskilled. i don't think that many people would disagree with me-- the majority of apparel manufacturing is outsourced overseas....

but would you call what you do apparel manufacturing, tho? because you don't cut and sew production quantities, do you? aren't you a pattern maker/sample maker/incubator??

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02-02-2006
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scenester
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovepositano
you know, we just have different perspectives because i don't think you see it from the business perspective of comparing financial terms and business processes b/t domestic vs. international sourcing. the average US factory is relatively expensive and unskilled. i don't think that many people would disagree with me-- the majority of apparel manufacturing is outsourced overseas....

but would you call what you do apparel manufacturing, tho? because you don't cut and sew production quantities, do you? aren't you a pattern maker/sample maker/incubator??
Yes, I wrote that book. Now, about apparel manufacturing here. I could not agree more that we've seen skill levels drop -that's depressing- but that's also due in part to demand. The people doing good stuff, well, it wasn't called for anymore so they retired and got out. The business is greying allright.

Now, I'd disagree that all is lost. There is a better model of manufacturing, it's called "lean". It's toyota. For example, toyota has so much cash, they can't spend it. Ford, is so debt ridden they're closing factories. Each manufacturer pays their workers the same and with the same benefits yet Toyota is building new plants here all the time and Ford is shutting them down. The difference is Lean. Toyota is lean, Ford is not. I KNOW we can be "lean" in apparel.I've done it! I am trying to teach people a new way of manufacturing profitably. It can be done. You can make kick-*** quality products, pay people decently, treat them well and still make money. Now, if you just want to make junk -t.shirts and jeans (commodities), sure, go wherever. But I will argue to my dying breath that you can make top notch products in this country and do it profitably. I run a blog where I teach this everyday. It's free. People are doing this everyday. Not all is lost. A lot of people just love to jump on the negative band wagon but I for one am not dead yet. I'm actually pretty young (44) with a lot of fight left in me so I'll still be around fighting this war for at least 20 more years. Wait 20 years, lean will be more common then. I'll just have to wait until then for people to see that I was right. If toyota can do it, we can too. No ifs ands or buts.

I still do some pattern making if I find a project that excites me. I don't even charge what you'd think, lol because it gives me the chance to help out somebody who may have some talent but not a lot of cash. But, the project has to excite me. Other than that, I do process design engineering which means designing the order in which products are constructed in order to make them more efficiently but with better and higher quality results. You know, like toyota does. I also do the incubator (fashion-incubator.com), again as a public service. Really, you couldn't find anyone who gives more than I do, most of it volunteer time, toward making sure that designers get the help they need to run a company right. All I ask is that they buy my book which they need anyway. I don't think I'm asking for much. I also have a forum (links off the blog) where designer-entrepreneurs can get sourcing help. We have some contractors and suppliers who hang out there too so that's great. We're slowly building a community, linking everybody together, including the incubators in other cities. All in the name of progress!

I refuse to say the business is dead here. Not while I'm still alive and kicking. I'm only 44. I figure I have 30 years to spew my variety of piss and vinegar ahead of me

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03-02-2006
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Fashion Puss's Avatar
 
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To change the subject slightly...I'm considering setting up my own label. I would need to hire a good pattern cutter / technologist.
What do people think is best: setting up your collections, borrow money for a small shop in the right neighbourhood that would be exclusively yours or trying to sell your collection to a store as a wholesale business.

Being a smaller designer I would have to buy fabric 'as is' (ie. not able to develop the textile to personal spec like washes or yarn finishes etc.) which could potentially limit the "vision"

Does anyone have any experiences of setting up from scratch and having to deal with mills who have high minimum metrage orders on their rolls?

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03-02-2006
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kathleen- breathe!! i'm not saying the biz is dead here, or that all is lost! we have lots of US suppliers-- we just prefer Asian ones. but no- some US ones are definitely making money and finding inventive ways to stay in biz. maybe that is the problem but btw you cannot even use toyota and ford in the same sentence. we did one case study on toyota in business school, and they are just beyond operational engineering w/ the JIT and total quality control...

fashion puss- the fabric is a huge headache. i would stick with only one fabric (even 1 or 2 colorways) in the beginning from one reliable source- like a good wholesaler/jobber, or in the worst case invest in a miniscule qty of fabric from a low-qty european mill- like 300 yards. design like 6 styles from one fabric, one colorway. (you can perfect your design skills like this. :p) this keeps your risk and investment low. sell through reps at trade shows...this way you have a higher chance of producing very small orders because you can combine 6 styles in 1 fabric order and deliver your orders which will really impress people and be good experience for you.

finalfashion- try assaltex in CA for jerseys & cottons. they do alot of jerseys in synthetics as well as cotton. they run most things in stock, and have extremely low minimum (1 roll.)

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03-02-2006
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Okay so I'm going to try and squeeze the question in again lol...


What do you do when you've got a sketch that you want to make reality but can't sew? Who do you go to? Better yet, who do you go to if you want it in bulks?? And can you go to them with JUST a sketch or would you need more to present to them?

I was thinking I would use some asian factory but the thing is I wouldnt be there to show them exactly how I needed the shirt (for example) done...

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03-02-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShesElectric
Okay so I'm going to try and squeeze the question in again lol...


What do you do when you've got a sketch that you want to make reality but can't sew? Who do you go to? Better yet, who do you go to if you want it in bulks?? And can you go to them with JUST a sketch or would you need more to present to them?

I was thinking I would use some asian factory but the thing is I wouldnt be there to show them exactly how I needed the shirt (for example) done...
use someone in the usa for pattern/initial sample making, use asian agent/factory to produce your orders!!

1. identify your target customer & silhouette
2. find fit model that fits this silhouette
3. find a couple pieces (dress, pants, tops, whatever you want to make) that fit this model with a cut you like (boxy, close to body, etc.)
4. have your pattern/sample maker copy the pieces that fit and make your patterns & samples
6. fit the samples, make changes to pattern to make perfect
7. NOW bring in your sketches, have your patternmaker/sample maker adapt your sketch to the patterns that already fit. make your actual pieces.

you do 1-7 b/c it makes the process more efficient. it will take forever to come up with acceptable samples if you don't work off something concrete.
sell your designs, NOW goto asia to produce your orders. is that clear?

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03-02-2006
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Hi ShesElectric,

Maybe I can help you out with your sewing needs until you get yourself up and running. I've been sewing for 20 years and can interpret sketches pretty well. If you're interested, I can get you my email address and we can go from there.

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03-02-2006
  113
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fashion Puss
...I'm considering setting up my own label. I would need to hire a good pattern cutter / technologist.
What do people think is best: setting up your collections, borrow money for a small shop in the right neighbourhood that would be exclusively yours or trying to sell your collection to a store as a wholesale business.
I wrote a post on this for my blog called "designer's guide to a business plan" which may help you. In addition, I wrote a book on the topic (the entrepreneur's guide to sewn product manufacturing) on exactly this subject. I'm just saying that to explain my biases. One, I just don't think it's possible to do retail and manufacturing from the get-go. Focus on one endeavor first, get a handle on it and then pick up the next venture. It's two totally different mindsets. Which would explain the perennial tensions btwn retailers and manufacturers.

Quote:
Being a smaller designer I would have to buy fabric 'as is' (ie. not able to develop the textile to personal spec like washes or yarn finishes etc.) which could potentially limit the "vision"
A lot of designers buy the goods and process them in house. You can also hire a dye house to process them for you. If you want specific washes, you go to a commercial laundry. Commercial laundries do more than just wash sheets and towels for hotels and restaurants.

Quote:
Does anyone have any experiences of setting up from scratch and having to deal with mills who have high minimum metrage orders on their rolls?
A lot of people don't know this but many fabric sellers actually have lower minimums. They use the threat of high minimums to keep out designers who are just playing around and aren't serious. Newbies can waste a lot of someone's time. If you know who to talk to and how, you can get sample yardage in as little as 5-10 yard quantities. Btw, that's on pg 50-51 of my book. It may be in a local library. good luck!

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03-02-2006
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"ilovepositano" thank you so much for your info.

One more question for anyone willing to answer...

Once you get a pattern maker to make your patterns or sample ect.. and get a manufacturer to create your clothing... can you put your label on them and sell them to buyers... because for some reason I feel there is something legally wrong about that...

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03-02-2006
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that's totally fine but you want to be incorporated so that you are protected from liabilities (let's say some crazy person sues you for flammability)...in addition, when you import goods, apply for an RN# - this is like an ID number that you have to put on your labels so that the govt can identify you as the importer.

goto katrina patterns in new york when you move here. she's the absolute best. almost never makes any mistakes -- esp. good at ruboffs.

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03-02-2006
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I definately will. I'm taking all this info down. Hopefully I'll be going to Parsons while trying to get a line together... See I can peice together most of the details in terms of how to get this and that done but it seems like in the end I'm leaving this huge door open as an opportunity for these people to one day take legal action you know? So much figuring out to do...

anyway thanks so muchh

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03-02-2006
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you can do it!! fashion and art always need new talent & fresh perspectives!

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19-02-2006
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Interesting ideas.....arent there people who look for young talent to see in a smaller boutique? I know out here there is a place downtown called Sara Jane where they sell up and coming designers. There is also this store called Yumi that carries Japanese-styled clothing from local designers.

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19-03-2006
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asking for advice from established, self employed designers
I am looking to start up a very niche, custom apparel business and was hoping some other established designers may be willing to offer bits of wisdom regarding:

- troubleshooting / forecasting costs that aren't obvious or may creep up on you
- standard minimums fabric wholesalers / manufacturers require
- good places to purchase sewing and construction equipment, including dress forms (in Canada, preferably)

Thank you so much!

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25-03-2006
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Starting an apparel line, looking for advice / wisdom
I am starting a very small, custom, niche menswear line. I have a ton of questions, but I was hoping that some successful designers may want to share their wisdom in what I am to expect in the following:

Textiles / fabrics - if I am not able to go to any shows, should I hire a textile agent to source the fabrics I need? What are standard minimums that most manufacturers / wholesalers require?

Start up costs - I am just hoping for people to advise what it cost them, so I can get an idea of what's reasonable.

Marketing / Publicists - What should I expect to pay a decent publicist?

This is what I am hoping to get feedback on right now but any advice is appreciated!!!

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