How can we find a manufacturer in the U.S. for our swimwear line, and should we work with an experienced designer?
We are starting a swimwear line. We have our business idea and mission and are on our way to finalizing our collection. We need experienced advice on finding a USA manufacturer, and we want to know if we should work with a experienced designer.
You absolutely want to work with someone who is experienced in swimwear in all aspects of your business. This is a very specialized part of the industry, much like the lingerie business and you are going to want to make sure that your designer, manufacturer and patternmaker, etc all know how to deal with these fabrics and how to account for not only the stretch involved in them, but also the close fit to the body to be comfortable, still allow for movement, etc.
Just curious as to why you want to manufacture in the US. There are many reasons why one would want to manufacture here, but is this a branding decision? A location decision? Etc? I'm curious as to why you want to make your items in the US. There are many good places to manufacture in the US that can do swimwear and can even do low quantities (which many be good for a start-up brand such as yourself) but the reason has to make sense to the brand from a logistics point of view as well as an overall production/ resource strategy.
You can try to google them but you aren't likely to find anyone. My advice is to go to the local geographic areas where these people tend to be centered: Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and find the manufacturers. I have a list I would love to email you to help you out and make things a bit easier. But make sure you get references, check the quality of their work, don't just go on price alone and take their word for it that they can "handle it" you have to do some serious research on any place you contract with to manufacture. Let me know if I can be of any more assistance.
Best of luck,
Shana, to answer your questions I will make a few assumptions. If these assumptions are wrong, the answer might need to change. I assume you want to manufacgure in the USA because that is your primary market. If not, consider manufacturing in the location of your primary market. If your manufacturing is close, it will be easier to quickly respond to variations in demand or design trends in the market. I can talk with you more about that if we need to. As far as choosing a manufacturer, I recommend 3 criteria. 1- Experience with manufacturing personal apparel made with the fabrics you will be using, 2) adeqaute capacity for the volume you expect to sell, 3) a proven quality management system, such as ISO 9000 certification. Then of course it comes down to price and lead time for selection. With respect to designers, I assume you have already done the fashion design and you are asking about industrial design. A well established manufacturer is almost certain to have designers on staff, I suggest you use them. This does mean that you need to build into your schedule, and possible budget, an allowance for them to do their work. Best of luch on your endeavor. Ray Sheen
Shana ... You've gotten a wide variety of advise. Some I agree with and some I totally disagree with.
1.) You don't have to manufacture in the primary market in order to quickly respond to demand changes with proper tools and procedures in place you can meet demand changes from anywhere in the world. The philosophy being used in manufacturing today is think globally produce locally. However, it doesn't mean that you can't use a factory in South America to satisfy demand if a US-based facility is down or at capacity.
2.) I don't know why so many of the commenters are talking negatively about manufacturing in the United States. They must not realize that China is no longer the low cost manufacturer of the world. In fact with the low cost of energy in the US and many other factors, the United States has regained a competitive edge in manufacturing and can undercut other areas by as much as 20% or more.
The other issue with manufacturing in China is stolen trademarks, patents, designs and counterfeit product.
3.) You don't need to have a US manufacturing philosophy just to position your brand. As I stated above US manufacturing has significant advantages. Furthermore, producing locally (US) you are reducing your carbon footprint as well.
While fabric is light in weight it is still quite expensive to ship the product from China or SE Asia to the US which adds to the MSRP of your product and then there is the whole tariff issue.
You need to read this article. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/09/07/14/why-made-china-clothing-sales-may-shrink-us
4.) Yes it would be prudent to have an experienced designer to help you finalize your designs, but it is not essential to have an experienced pattern maker since most clothing manufacturers are no longer utilizing patterns. They are using automated laser cutting machines that use CAD drawings to control the cutting. Therefore, you will need to find someone who has SolidWorks or similar CAD software with pattern plugin. The pattern plugin will take your design add all the necessary seaming needs and layout the swimsuit on the fabric size to maximize material utilization.
You will do your self a world of good by working with someone who has experienced the reality of producing a swimwear line in the US. There will be things you will not have anticipated, both good and bad, as you launch. Having some background and resources to get through those issues will save you time, headaches and tears.
The trick will be finding the right person to work with you- who will help you realize your vision as you want it to be, so be thoughtful and careful.
The other answers about manufacturing below are all very helpful, best of luck.
Hi Shana, I worked in the intimate apparel sector for 10 years and have a wealth of contacts who can help you out. What's the best email to contact you? Feel free to connect via LI: http://linkedin.com/in/aparnadasgupta
Hi there...When you are starting something new its important to know what others that have been doing the same thing are doing. An experienced person will help you to see the advantages and disadvantages because they have been doing it for a long time. Ask lot of questions in order to learn and take few notes, if they have a shop that has already swimwear line ask if its possible to visit and see, in order to get the picture of what you are looking for. An inexperienced person will not help because he/she is still finding her foot and you might do the same mistakes...LinkedIn is always the best to look for people that are doing the same work you are doing and the areas where they are you will find it there. Google as well if you want to find more info..Hope this helps
I would first ask what is your startup capital and are you able to pay for a designer and sewers. If so then you have the bulk of the problem solved right there. There are experienced sewers everywhere. You merely need to get sewing machines and figure out where you want to set up your operation, go to the employment security office and place and add for sewers. Once you have done that you already have your manufacturing set up.
exciting times for you! There are a number of private label manufacturers in the US. Start by picking a few and have a conversation with them. The good ones will have inhouse design assistance as well.
check out http://www.daisysswimwear.com/private_label for starters. Best to you!
It depends on the amount of capital you have available for this project. Manufacturing in the States is very expensive as well as hiring a designer. Materials and human resources are going to be much more expensive then doing it in Southeast Asia or China. My advice would be to hire an experienced designer in America that knows swimsuit trends. Once you get a prototype that you're happy with, you can manufacture in China or Thailand.
Studio Design Source offers in apparel collection development and manufacturing with lingerie and swim as specialties. Would love to work with you on this as well as consult with you through the manufacturing and shipping process.