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Why is it so difficult to find clothing manufacturers with low MOQs?

by Busines Newswire
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Factories have minimum order quantities of 500-1000 pieces of each style, which is not only greed, but a trap of fast fashion. ……. Every color. There is a real reason for this. Today I’m going to explain why finding a clothing manufacturer with a low MOQ is like finding a unicorn. By the way, minimum starting order means minimum order quota. I’ll also show you the hidden downside (that no one mentions) of working with these small manufacturers who specialize in starting order production. Because the reality is that working with small-scale manufacturers is usually not the panacea or dream solution startup founders think it is.

But before that.

Have you heard of the super-secret document that everyone in the fashion industry uses but no one talks about? Chances are you haven’t heard of it. That’s because you can’t find it on Google or Instagram (trust me, I tried).

That’s because it’s the shape I’ve been using in every job I’ve had for 13 years. It’s used by everyone from brands to fabric suppliers, but it’s not in the public domain.

What are its key benefits? It cuts your sourcing time in half and saves you tons of money on product development! It’s like an information consultant that can save you a ton of money. We’re giving it away for free until the end of this month.

So get ready to make your life as a fashion entrepreneur easier!

Yes, the industry is greedy, but not necessarily so ……..

I was inspired to write this post because I see a lot of people complaining online about how hard it is to find production partners with low minimum order quantities. They always jump to conclusions. If they can’t get the small orders they want, then the factories are part of the fast fashion problem. And this is very wrong. First of all, 500 pieces is not a fast fashion quantity, it’s 500,000 pieces.

So to understand why factories need higher minimum order quantities than you’re happy with, you need to understand how the production process works. Let’s continue.

How Factories Work

The first thing to understand about apparel production is that everything is a chain reaction. If one part of the system is affected, all parts of the system are affected. For example, if a button is delayed and the delivery date is pushed back, it’s not as easy to sew an entire shirt and then sew on the button. Everything must be done together.

If a new brand says to you, “We have 95% of the material, can we start with that?” You could go to ……..

No, Karen, no.

Let me explain why. This method is extremely inefficient, and factories make money by learning how to be as efficient as possible.

Understanding this is key to understanding why minimum order quantities are so high.

Learning to Think About Hidden Work

Another common question is, “I can make a minimum order of 500 pieces if I split it into five colors. Why can’t I make 100 of each color? They all have the same pattern.

Now, let’s look at ordering the same pattern in all five colors at the micro level of the factory. Essentially, this is like ordering five completely different patterns. This is because each color must follow a different process. This requires five dye formulas, five dye baths, five different lab approvals, and five dye machine operations. Basically, production time increased fivefold!

This is another example of a factory wasting time producing another color!

For each color produced, the factory had to take all the yarn out of the machine and replace it with new yarn to produce the next color. This may seem like a lot of work, but I assure you it is.

Over time, the mills became more and more efficient.

Another reason textile mills like large orders is that it gives them time to improve production. This allows them to increase productivity and profits.

If the order is for only 50 garments, then the order will have been fulfilled by the time the garment factory starts sewing these garments and improves efficiency and quality through practice. However, if the order is for 1,000 garments, the situation is a little different. They may only be able to sew 10 pieces on the first day. But if the order is for 1,000 pieces, they can only make 10 pieces on the first day.

In addition to efficiency, the seamstresses like this kind of work. They don’t have to memorize the details of a new design every few days, and they can use muscle memory, which takes the pressure off.

It’s also a bit personal.

Now, as far as efficiency is concerned, there are obvious reasons why factories are reluctant to accept low starting orders. But there is another reason. A more personal reason. (Remember, my style is not to tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear).

As a new company, you are asking the factory for a very low MOQ, which means they need to educate you. And educating new customers takes time. Thanks to YouTube and TikTok, we’ve all been under the illusion that we can learn anything online. But now, we need to put our egos aside and listen to the mill.

No matter how many YouTube videos you watch or how many books you read, nothing compares to real life experience. The fashion world is chaotic. That’s what makes this job exciting. Even after more than a decade in the industry, I’m still learning new things.

Things don’t always work out, so factories try to minimize risk as much as possible. That’s why they usually cancel initial small-volume orders.

Even if they have a tech package and think they’re specialized and ready to go into production, they’re not. In the last week alone, I have spoken to two buying agents. They have a strict policy of not working with start-up brands. Both agents said it was because startups were wasting their time. Nonetheless. They still agreed to work with my LMCL students. This is because they know that these students are well educated and understand how the industry works. And I don’t have to waste time teaching them how to do things correctly.

Remember, when you start proofing, it’s practically free even if you pay the factory!

Proofing fees usually barely cover the time and labor required to make the samples. In other words, the more time it takes to teach them how to be good customers, the more they work for free.

Factories (unless they specialize in low MOQ orders) only start making money when they get a big order).

Keep this in mind when communicating with your factory partners.

I want you to consider the little problems and mistakes. They may not seem like a big deal from your perspective, but they can cost factories a lot of time, resources, and money. A brand that forgets a seemingly insignificant detail in a tech pack or prototype can lose hours of work.

What can be done if factory minimums are not met

Hire an expert.

Take the time to learn how to do it right before contacting the factory. Also be mindful of who you seek advice from. Here are some tips to make sure they have actually worked in the industry.

There are no set rules.

Another thing that no one in the industry will tell small startups outright. But I’ll let you in on a little secret.

We change the rules for people like us.

It’s a lesson I learned while working in the fast fashion industry. I spent a lot of time overseas, working directly with factories and building relationships. It was through these relationships that the “magic” happened. Suddenly I was able to do things that no one else could do. Even my boss, the president, couldn’t do it. I was able to do this because the factory managers liked me. Because they wanted to help me – my projects were pushed to the front and prioritized.

I had a lot of customers who didn’t meet the official minimum starting order, but I liked them. I want to work with them to change the rules.

Why do I like them?

Quite simply, because they’re cool. They work hard. They don’t have a lot of ego. They take the time to lay out all the material in a way that makes it easy for both me and the factory to understand. Overall, they are very user-friendly.

In my opinion, when a brand takes the time to learn the industry and take it seriously, I want to help them, so I’ll change the rules a little bit.

The best advice I can give when the minimum order is low is to respect other people’s time.

As most of the posts on this blog explain, factories don’t make much money on samples and small quantity orders like this. So always remember to thank your supply chain partners and tell them how much you appreciate them giving you this opportunity.