I am assuming that you have done your market research, chosen your brand story and have a crystal clear brand message. In other words, your target audience is ready to buy what you design and produce. It's time to talk about production. First step is to get tech packs made, then decide which quality control strategy you will use and make sure you can meet the factories minimum order quantity. Below are links to 12 other topics I recommend you study before you contact a factory. They are in-depth articles about choosing your fabric, negotiating price, printing options and so on. I wrote the articles for you. Enjoy learning how to get clothing manufactured overseas.
Tell me more about you.
1) What product do you want to produce in Vietnam?
2) Do you have any specific factory requirements?
3) Why are you looking for manufacturing in Vietnam vs China or India?
4) Is your order quantity per item greater than 1,000?
5) Do you have tech packs or technical specifications?
6) Do you have a website or online shop I can check out to learn more about you?
7) Which service are you interested in to start?
- Factory introductions by email
- Factory visits
- Costing (getting a price quote)
- Design and merchandising
- Quality control
- Factory audits/assessment
- Hosting (renting a desk in our office)
- Staff recruiting
These are the questions I will ask you to help you get clothing manufactured overseas. I need this information to provide you professional advice so you will know how to get clothing manufactured overseas.
Testimony by Tamlorn Chase
My tech pack designer [techpacks.co] recommended you when I shared with her that I was struggling with how to get my clothing manufactured overseas. This is my first time manufacturing overseas, so I read both your Guide to Producing Garments in Vietnam and Where to Buy Eco Fabrics. Both fantastic books that helped my understand the process of how to get clothing manufactured overseas responsibly.
Key Players in My Network
I started working with Frank in 2017. I consider myself lucky to know and work with Frank in Vietnam because of his business ethics, generous character, and 38 years of doing business in Asia. He is my overseas manufacturing mentor. He is an expert who knows how to get clothing manufactured overseas.
Frank was born in The Congo and grew up in Africa, South America and Europe. Even though his nationality is Belgian, he has a deep understanding of many cultures. He speaks English, French, Dutch, Italian, German, Spanish and a little bit of Vietnamese and Hindi.
Frank joined a Swiss overseas apparel trading company called Sedi at the age of 17. They enrolled him in a 6-month textile quality control course in Switzerland and then stationed him in a Pakistani factory called Aliftex. Frank was in charge of quality assurance for knitting, dyeing, cutting and sewing. His biggest challenge was controlling fabric shrinkage. He learned to manage many variables at different stages of production: the yarn twists, the tension on the knitting machines, the dyeing temperature, the settings on the stentering machines, the cutting process and the sewing technique. He figured out the best way to manage overseas clothing manufacturers is to discover mistakes early, be transparent and report the problems right away to solve them quickly.
His next assignment lasted from 1982 until 1999. Based in Singapore managed overseas production of men’s, women’s and children’s fashion garments for the European mail order industry. Production started in India and over the years expanded to Bangladesh, Nepal and eventually Vietnam. It was particularly challenging working with the cottage industry system in India where the rejection rate was 30%. Frank managed to get it down to 17%. One garment would pass through at least 8 subcontractors before being finished, washed, ironed and packed in the central exporting factory. It was a logistical nightmare that Frank handled with paper trails given that computers weren’t commercially available. Overseas apparel manufacturing is not easy.
In 1989 Frank was the second foreigner to be granted a license by the Vietnamese government to open a representative office. He leased an office, built a team, sourced factories and started shipping containers of clothing to Europe. In those days, business people were assigned a government appointed business escort and could only stay at designated hotels. Frank was a pioneer in Vietnam and knows how to work the system. For example, in 2010 Frank advised his Moroccan investor how to comply with a Vietnamese import restriction that states that second hand garment machinery can only be imported if it is 80% new. Frank knows how to get clothing manufactured overseas.
In 1999, Sedi’s mail order catalogue clients merged and set up their own buying offices. As a result, Sedi saw their business go from $US20 million to $US2 million in less than a year. Frank was assigned the difficult task of visiting Sedi’s 19 partner factories, cancelling agreements which lead to layoffs and factory closures. This experience deeply affected Frank and is one reason he is a compassionate and generous person. Getting clothing made overseas has its ups and downs.
The owner of Sedi retired and Frank decided to get out of overseas apparel trading and focus on quality control. In 2000 he opened a quality control company called Seditex. Given his production experience, he recognized that many quality control inspectors applied AQL very strictly and would unnecessarily stop shipments which was bad for everybody. Having worked in production for more than 18 years Frank understood when it was necessary to follow AQL strictly and when it was necessary to be lenient to complete production, get the customers’ goods to the shops on-time. Frank has trained his QC team to follow AQL standards and at the same time make quick decisions in the factory to keep production moving and meet delivery dates. Frank’s customers include Sears, C&A, Auchan, Dimensions and Men’s Warehouse. He has QC teams in Cambodia, Myanmar, Madagascar and Vietnam inspecting containers of overseas apparel product each month.
Frank’s QC customers ask him for sourcing support so he maintains a sourcing team that can find anything in Vietnam. If you need an overseas manufacturer for shoes, bags, furniture, lingerie, you name it, Frank’s team can find one for you. His sourcing support team offers a la carte services like factory introductions, factory visits, costing, merchandising, factory audits, staff recruitment and workspace hosting.
Frank also works as a business consultant taking on a few challenging projects each year to help businesses set up offices, sell their products or solve difficult problems in Vietnam. One recent example is a foreign accounting firm caught their Vietnamese partner rerouting revenue unfairly. What to do? Frank knew. They hired Frank to handle the sensitive situation. Frank hosted multiple meetings between both parties, created a new legal structure and engineered an ethical asset allocation agreement. After a few weeks, it was clear that the Vietnamese partner was not honoring the amicable split so Frank applied his 30+ years of hands on experience and helped the accounting firm lease a new office, get it furnished nicely and take back the whole team without breaking any laws. What normally would have cost tens of thousands of dollars of lawyer fees and countless days in court, Frank solved quickly and cost effectively. He has faced many sensitive situations like this one and knows what to do. The accounting firm had 60 people working in Vietnam before the situation and now there are more than 100 thanks to Frank. Frank knows the legal boundaries and understands the Vietnamese culture well. He knows how to get clothing manufactured overseas.
Prem Kumar, Garment Technology Expert in Vietnam
I started working with Prem when I joined Seditex in 2017. I admire him for his calm spirit, garment technology knowledge and project management skills. My job is to match your needs with Prem’s expertise. If you need to get clothing manufactured in Vietnam then Prem is someone you need to know if you want to know how to get clothing manufactured overseas.
Prem was born in 1976 in Chennai, India. In the 70s Chennai was an overseas garment manufacturing hot spot. Prem’s grandfather was a designer for men’s and women’s fashion. Prem’s first experience with garment technology was making button holes by hand using a thimble under the tutelage of his grandfather. He remembers being fascinated watching his grandfather cutting fabric when he was seven years old.
In 1994 Prem graduated from high school and enrolled in the Chennai Institute of Garment Technology for two years. He perfected the art of making patterns by hand and sewing woven apparel. By the time he left college he had a solid foundation in garment technology and could speak English, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Singlam and Bangali.
In 2007 Prem started working for Dynamic Sourcing based in Jordan. Jordan overseas garment manufacturing was booming thanks to its duty-free status into the USA. He worked with Sri Lankans, Chinese, Bangladeshis and Nepalese doing QA. He also managed production of Dynamic’s own brand Bole and brands like Pebble Beach, Slazenger, Walter Hagen, and Kirkland (Costco.) Dynamic assigned Prem to expand their operations in Vietnam. They started sourcing and placing orders in Vietnamese factories until Prem convinced management to start a small factory in Long An Province just outside Ho Chi Minh City. He rapidly grew their overseas clothing production from one line to four lines before joining Seditex.
The owner of Seditex, Frank Vossen, recruited Prem in 2016 to set up and run a men’s dress shirt factory in Vietnam. Together they designed and built a “Rolls Royce” overseas sewing factory for a Turkish investor. The factory started with seven lines and had space to double in size. Before they had a chance to grow, a Vietnamese investor made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Now Frank and Prem run Seditex which offers quality control and sourcing support services in Vietnam. They are a powerful duo when it comes to sourcing clothing manufacturers overseas.
In 2018 Prem completed many overseas apparel related sourcing services for Seditex clients as well as managed projects for absorbent pads, medical devices and air filters both in Vietnam and India. You will enjoy working with Prem thanks to his calm, friendly and professional nature and you will benefit from his apparel expertise as well as his broad knowledge of apparel and non-apparel factories in Vietnam.
Three questions I typically ask:
If you are a start-up fashion brand who is investigating Vietnamese production for the first time then read my guide books. I have written guide books for start-ups to prepare them to meet factories and get price quotes.
Vietnam's Unique Selling Points?
Many garment buyers source factories in Vietnam expecting cheap prices; at least, cheaper than China. They are usually disappointed and ask themselves, why did we come to Vietnam? What is Vietnam’s unique selling point? The Vietnam Garment Industry has four USPs; one of them is that Vietnamese merchandisers speak English well. Have you experienced this when working with Vietnamese clothing manufacturers?
Ok, you might say that is no reason to move production from China to Vietnam. True. You might also say that there are many Chinese merchandisers that speak English well. Also true. My point is that, after living in Vietnam for eight years, and having travelled to China to meet many Chinese factories I can confidently say, more Vietnamese speak English well than Chinese. I am talking about merchandisers that work in garment factories. Why?
What I see in Vietnam is a sincere push for education from the Government and my Vietnamese in-laws; at least, when it comes to learning English. It’s as if they have it in their blood. English is the ticket to success. I see this when working with Vietnamese clothing manufacturers. Vietnam is so pro-English that wealthy families send their kids abroad in High School. What I see happening is that the kids adopt English as their first language and consequently English culture as their dominant culture. I feel like some kids have lost touch with their Vietnamese identity yet know they will never be true Brits, Australians or Americans. The result is that even the kids who don’t have the money to study abroad learn English very well in Vietnam. There are English schools on every corner. Vietnamese elementary schools have separate classes taught in English. When you work with a Vietnamese garment factory, there is a very good chance the your point of contact will write, speak and joke in English proficiently.
Too many times I have arrived at a Chinese factory and worked with the sales person only to find out that their English is weak and their merchandisers don’t speak any English at all. When we talk garment technology they nod affirmatively but it’s obvious they don’t really get what I am saying. In Vietnam, you will encounter this scenario as well when working with Vietnamese clothing manufacturers, but not as often as China. Conclusion is that Vietnamese merchandisers speak English well and this is #1 of 4 unique selling points of the Vietnam garment industry.
How I became a manufacturing consultant in Vietnam
All the start ups I help face the same frustrating language barriers, cultural barriers and high minimum order quantities that exist in Vietnam. In some cases they lack a basic understanding of what factories need in order to quote a price. I know what the factories need to quote price. I know the questions the startups should be asking. I have heard all the horror stories about working with small factories that did not deliver as promised. I know what you will face as you start to work in Vietnam and I can help you either deal with an existing problem or prepare you to avoid those problems.
I exhibit every year at the Sourcing at Magic show where I meet new fashion start ups and also make contact with new suppliers that I can introduce you to. Now I get too many emails to help people individually for free so I wrote guidebooks to share all my knowledge and insider tips cost effectively and efficiently. If you are willing to pay me for my time and expertise then we can arrange for a Skype call to address your specific need. You can also sign up for my newsletter or listen to my podcast to learn more about how to get clothing manufactured overseas.
Fashion Start-up Educational Book Series
Contact me today!
1. Which styles do you want to manufacture first?
2. Do you have tech packs?
3. Do you have any special factory requirements?
4. Have you produced before? If yes, then in what country?
5. What quantity per style per color do you order?
6. Does your company have a website?
7. Do you want to work with an agent or directly with the factory?
8. Do you plan to visit Vietnam?
Fashion Start-up Consultant
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Author and Dad