Have you ever wanted to start a fashion brand and wondered how to actually get the products made? There is more than one way you can get products made for your fashion brand. You have several options depending on how much product customization you want and how much you have to invest in product development.
The option with the lowest risk and investment is to buy blanks. Blanks are pre-made garments that you can buy in either small quantities or in bulk from other manufacturers. Blanks are usually simpler garments like tee-shirts and hoodies that have a mass appeal.
While blanks are offered in a range of styles, colors, and sizes, you don’t have control over the actual fit or design of the garment. You have to choose from what is available. Blanks work well for brands whose focus is more on custom prints, messaging, and graphics than on unique garment designs. Blanks also work well as branded apparel for use as swag or for promotions.
Despite the lack of customization on the garment level, there are advantages to buying blanks for your brand. Popular blank styles are usually kept in stock which means you can get your order pretty quickly once you place it. As a brand, that means you can buy inventory closer to season and don’t have to invest money far ahead of when you plan on selling the items. You can usually get blanks at low minimums too – and with even better prices when you buy bulk. This allows you to test the market with a new blank style before buying large quantities.
Another option for getting products made for your brand is to private label styles from other manufacturers. Private label means that you can put your label and branding on a product that was developed and is made by another manufacturer. Private label styles can be any type or complexity of garment.
This option offers more customization than blanks, but still without the development cost of fully custom styles. Private labeling can run the gamut from having only your label customized to having the style custom sized, printed, or designed specifically for your brand. The amount of customization available will depend on the manufacturer you are buying from and how large of a quantity you are buying. You will likely not be offered as many customization options if you are buying in small quantities. With private labeling, the manufacturer is taking on the development cost and they have to make sure the order is large enough to be worth the extra customization work.
Private label gives your business the opportunity to establish a name for your brand and create a style that is semi-unique to your brand without too much risk and investment. The garments are usually made to order for you but are based off of an existing style the manufacturer makes. Because private labeled styles are often made to order, the lead time on an order is usually much longer than for blanks so you’d have to factor that into your sales timeline with this route.
A third option for getting products made is custom development. If you have a unique product idea and want to make products that are fully custom to you and your brand, this is the best option for you. Custom development means you have full control over what the style looks like, how it fits, what fabrics and colors you want to use, and what branding and labeling go into it. You can even have fabric custom made or printed/dyed to your specifications if your product, budget, and order quantities warrant it. Custom development, while it offers the most design options, uniqueness, and control, does require the most up-front investment. Unlike blanks and private labeling, custom development means you are fronting the cost of getting that style designed and ready for production.
Within the custom development option, you can choose different ways to go about it. You can do everything DIY or in-house, work with a freelance patternmaker like myself, hire a development agency to develop your product on your behalf, or work with a full-package factory that has a development team in-house. What works best for your brand depends on your experience or desire to be involved with the technical development as well as the volume of work and your budget.
Custom development gives you complete control over what products you make for your brand and allows you to unleash your creativity and design the products from scratch! You are able to design products that are completely new and don’t already exist in the marketplace. This gives your business exclusive styles that will make your brand stand out and allows you to curate collections that meet the specific needs of your customers. Many brands find that this custom development option is worth it even considering the additional required investment.
As you are planning your brand and product strategy, consider whether blanks, private labeling, or custom development works best for each of your product ideas. Products for your fashion brand can be made multiple ways depending on your brand’s needs, budget, and creative tastes.