Determining your type of brand
Firstly, you need to understand what type of brand you are. Are you a start-up brand or an established one? What type of products are you looking for? Do you wish to develop a collection with several products or just one? These and many other questions will eventually help you decide which approach would be better for you: working with a textile agency or directly with a clothing manufacturer. There are pros and cons in both cases, ultimately it will depend on your requirements and expectations.
Each textile company serves a purpose. In textile agencies case, there are generalists and specialists. There are those who intervene directly in the buying and selling process, and those who just work as intermediaries between brands and clothing manufacturers, while charging a commission for it. As previously explained in the first article of our blog, HRP Textile Agency is clearly part of the latest, since we do not take part in the buying or selling. In fact, by acting as an intermediary between brands and suited suppliers, we are not limited to work with only certain types of garments. As a result, HRP can be very flexible when attending to our clients’ requests.
So, why do brands even think of using a textile agency instead of working directly clothing manufacturer? Simple, they know where it hurts. Looking at the pros, if you are part of an international brand which is located several kilometers away from Portugal, you will find some problems:
- Lack of knowledge of all the textile industry of the country, namely about the best clothing manufacturers for your needs;
- You can’t visit daily the clothing manufacturers and understand how the developments are going, or attest the quality of your products in real time;
- Language barrier dilemma. Sometimes the best clothing manufacturer for your needs, may not speak or have the correct vocabulary to work with a foreign customer.
These were just a few examples of some difficulties you can find when looking for a partner abroad, that a Textile Agency can easily solve.
Still not convinced?
There are more aspects that can take you to choose working with a Textile agency instead of directly with a factory. For instance, one collection is normally composed with different types of products (e.g. Hoodie, shirts, shoes, among others), with different fabrics and compositions. As said previously, each textile company serves a purpose. In the case of clothing manufacturers, they tend to be specialists in just one or some segments, but never in all. This means that for just one collection, you will probably need several different manufacturers working for you. Here, you have two options: either you have a large team to work and follow up with each manufacturer OR you work with a textile agency capable of managing a network of factories that can fulfill your needs.
By choosing the latest, you will never have to go find a factory by yourself, as you can take advantage of the knowledge and network of your partner. Furthermore, you will only have to cultivate a good relationship with just one company, while taking the rest of the time to focus on product development, marketing and selling.
The previous picture exemplifies in a simpler way how a textile agency can be a game-changer. Normally, you will have to pay a fee for this service that can go from 5% to 10% of the production price the factory will give you. However, the time saved with production management and the assurances of your expectations being met by a strict quality control service, will probably help you recover this money in no time.
The textile supply chain is long and depends on the participation of several parts that need to be coordinated so that your goods can reach safe and sound to the shops, namely the clothing manufacturers.
So, what is clothing manufacturing? Basically, for producing a garment, several operations are necessary. For instance, cutting, sewing, and finishing are just some of the parts that are integrated in this process. Depending on the type of product, the type of equipment and workmanship needed may vary, that is why one clothing manufacturer does not produce all types of clothing. In sum, clothing manufacturers are focused on converting raw materials into finished goods, ready to be sold.
Thinking on working directly?
Besides all the cons that can happen while working directly with manufacturers, which were already mentioned above, there are also several benefits. When you manage to find the right factory, it can sometimes save you money and time, when everything is working perfectly. There are several manufacturers which are excellent in what they do and have a highly trained team to help you. In these cases, time and money can be saved and you will be pleased with their work.
The concerns start when you want to diversify the products on your collection and need to find another supplier on your own. If the supplier you are currently using is taking too much attention from you, you will not be able to efficiently find another so you can grow your brand. Additionally, in some cases, brands hire external companies or freelancers to do the quality control of their productions to assure everything goes accordingly the plan. This is one extra cost that could be avoided if you had chosen textile agency to manage your production, since the quality control is included in their services.
Keeping it simple
Basically, imagine you are on vacations and visiting a foreign country for the first time. You can read all about it and plan everything for yourself, or you can hire a guide to help you have the best experience and not miss any part of the adventure (normally, their know how is better than the books). Both options are available, both options are okay, it all depends on what you are looking for. My suggestion would be: if you are a smaller brand with just a few styles, maybe try to go on your own and as you grow think about the possibility of hiring an agent. However, if you are an established brand with a big operation already in place, perhaps going with an agency could bring you several worthwhile benefits.
by Rui Oliveira
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