The Single Biggest Mistake Designers Make When Buying Wholesale Fabric

buy wholesale fabric When I had my line, sourcing fabric was one of the best parts of my job. The thrill of opening up headers sent from France. The feeling of Christmas when fresh rolls arrive from the UPS guy who never seemed to understand why I got so excited. The hunt for just the right shade of aubergine and no, I don’t want eggplant, I really need this aubergine, can’t you see the difference?  I made a lot of mistakes with my fabric purchases and I see even more made by my clients. I work with clients on the business side of things, not sourcing and manufacturing (I refer them to Boaz), yet I still feel the pain of fabric issues all the time! That’s how much trouble it causes designers. Before I get to the BIGGEST one, here are a few I see every week. Common Mistakes Let’s count down the 5 top mistakes.

#5) Ordering the fabric you love because you know you will use it some day even if you don’t need it for anything now.

#4) Buying prints to use in your collection, showing them to retailers and getting orders, then being shocked that the exact print isn’t available for re-order at the exact moment you need it.

#3) Receiving your rolls of fabric for production, taking a little swatch from one of them, but not opening all the rolls and checking them thoroughly. The by the time you cut into them for your season and find issues, it’s been 45 days and the mill won;t do anything for you.

#2) Assuming your production fabric will match the shade and exact quality of your sample yardage.

The Single Biggest Mistake And trust me, this is a doozy. I have personally wasted more time on this one than I care to remember. And I sure as heck spend a lot of my Coaching time trying to explain it to emerging designers. #1) Having the idea of the perfect fabric in your mind and going out to source that exact thing. Then after 5 months of searching I would wonder what kind of a messed up business is this that my perfect fabric cannot be found and must be custom ordered in China for a minimum of 3000 yards. And here’s what I hear all the time.

  • “But I bought this piece at JoAnn Fabrics. Are you telling me that NO ONE can get this for me for less than 300 yards?”
  • “But I see this fabric all the time at H & M/The Gap/Target. It’s nothing really that special so I’ll keep looking – I’m sure it’s out there.”

What You Can Do Differently First, I suggest you work things backwards.  Rather than have the perfect fabric in mind and go searching for it, go to fabric vendors and see what’s available. This means finding vendors that offer minimums that work for your brand. Once you see what’s available in your price range at quantities you can handle, you can begin. I suggest you design your collection around what fabrics and trims you know you can actually get. What if you don’t know where to find these vendors or what textile trade show is right for you? No worries, Boaz and I are doing a live Webinar this Friday, 8/23/13 at 1 pm EST. It’s free and it’s a great way to get the information you need. Which Fabric Show is Right For You and How to Get the Best From It

You can register for this free online presentation here: http://fabricshows.eventbrite.com/

Friday, August 23, 2013 at 1 pm Eastern

“See” you there!




9 Responses

  1. Hi Jane,

    Is there a way to get this information on fabric vendors even though the webinar has passed?

  2. Hello, Im just getting started in the clothing industry.. I was hoping you would point me towards a few websites or some information on how to get clothing made/designs and the best place to purchase fabrics..

    1. Hi Marco,
      Yes, I can point you in the right direction. In my opinion, the “perfect storm” for a new designer is this:
      1) Invest in yourself, your education, and the success of your business by enrolling in my New Designer Program. You won’t regret it: https://fashionbrainacademy.com/training-courses/new-designer-program/
      2) Get Frances Harder’s book (newly updated), Fashion For Profit: http://www.fashionforprofit.com/
      3) Download my free fabric report (including 24 pf my favorite fabric resources + a mini education on textiles + an education on the process of buying wholesale fabrics) here: https://fashionbrainacademy.com/fabric-sourcing/
      4) Watch this free Webinar training from Boaz David at humanb.com, “How to Work With A Sewing Contractor”: http://www.humanb.com/free-fashion-resources
      5) Go to Maker’s Row to start looking for a pattern maker and factory (but DO NOT contact them until you’ve taken the New Designer Program online course and learn what to say, what NOT to say, and you have all the forms and info you need): http://makersrow.com/

      1. Hello Jane Im new to the fashion business and I want to start my own online clothing line. Is it ok if I use a wholesale vendor for my clothing? I want to be a fashion designer, can I still be considered a fashion designer even with wholesale?

  3. I live in lagos Nigeria, I intend to start a clothing line for ladies shirts, dresses and babies dress. Presently I have no idea on where to start from, but I would love to do the final clothe manufacturing inhouse. I would also love to know where to import good fabric from. Will this course help and what other resources can be helpful to me. Thanks

  4. Hello;) i draw My own fabric design, do you know a place i can order in smaller quantitiz than 50 m?
    Kind regards

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