Vietnam Garment Insider
Source Manufacturers in South East Asia
"Chris listened to my situation and goals. He explained clearly why I should have tech packs and why factories reject small order quantities. He introduced me to valuable resources that allowed me to move forward despite not having tech packs nor enough money to do high quantities."

Judah Bos
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Working with clothing manufacturers overseas

Hi, my name is Chris and I offer consulting for fashion brands investigating overseas manufacturing. Can you see the biggest hurdle creative fashion designers have working with clothing manufacturers overseas? Are you interested to know how to bridge the gap between your creative designs and Vietnamese garment technicians? For six years I have been observing and helping fashion brands work with sewing factories in Vietnam. I finally figured out what the biggest road block is and why it happens.

I work in Ho Chi Minh City and assist fashion brands to get price quotes and samples made so they can make critical business decisions to launch their collections successfully. Below is a list of yes no questions that will help you discover the steps to start manufacturing apparel overseas. Read each question and answer yes/no to move the next logical question. At the end, contact me via my contact form and schedule an appointment to speak with me on Skype.
 

Will you produce more than 1,000 pieces per style per color?

Countries like Vietnam have factories designed to produce large quantities at low prices? Are you considering these countries for your production? Why? Do you want a low price? If you can get your quantities to 1,000 per style per color then you can get low prices. Are you able to produce 1,000 pieces per style per color?
 

Do you know the composition, weight and pantone color of your fabric?

There are many kinds of polyester. There are many variations of cotton. Rayon comes in 31 flavors. Each fabric has a unique knitted or woven structure. Do you know your exact pantone color? What weight does the fabric need to be. Which options do you want? Can the factory just guess? You will present yourself as professional and an easy customer to work with if you know the technical specs of your fabric. Do you know the composition, weight and pantone color of your fabric?
 

Do you have tech packs?

How will you communicate all the details of your garment to the overseas clothing manufacturer? The industry standard way is to use tech packs. Do you have your tech packs made and were they done by a professional? Your tech packs should include:
Flat Sketch 
Measurement Chart for 1st Sample 
Order Quantity Chart 
Written or Visual Description 
Bill of Materials 
List of Stitches and Seams 
List of Embellishments 
Branding Artwork 
Measurement Chart for Grading 
Point of Measurement Diagrams  
List for Tracking Changes 
Creating a complete tech pack requires technical training and experience. If you wing it and create an incomplete tech pack then will you get an incomplete price quote? Do you have tech packs?
 

Have you figured out the HS Code of your garment?

If you sell your garments in Mexico, then you will have to pay the Mexican government a tax to import your garments from Vietnam. This is true for all countries. In some cases, the import tax rate negates your profit. You need the HS code to look up the duty rate. Have you figured out the HS Code of your garment?
 

Do you have your first 1,000 true fans?

What is more important, getting product made or having a following that wants to buy product from you? Do you want inventory sitting in your living room that you can't sell on Amazon? I can help you get product made but I am looking at the bigger picture and only want to work with you if you are confident you can sell your product. I don't want you to lose your money. Are you sure you can sell what you produce in Vietnam? Do you have your first 1,000 true fans?
Making samples at Un Available
 

Finding small MOQ factories overseas

If you are producing less than 1,000 pieces then I do know some factories but I am very hesitant to introduce you to them for two reasons. One, as soon as they get bigger orders they will focus their energy on the bigger orders, not yours. It's human nature. Factories are service companies that are focused on making as much money as they can. They don't care about your brand the way you do. The second reason is that small factories most likely just started and don't have the "better needle" as want. Basically you are their training ground for bigger fish in the future. I am afraid to associate my reputation with a referral gone bad. So be forewarned and proceed with caution with doing overseas clothing manufacturing in small quantity.

Here is another point to consider. If you really believe in your brand then are you confident enough to pitch your brand idea to investors? If you can't find an investor then what does that tell you about your brand concept, designs and business strategy? Do investors charge you money to hear your pitch? Will investors give you good advice if they find a flaw in your market research, financial projections or marketing? Why wouldn't you pitch to an investor? You have a lot to gain and nothing to lose. If you plan is a sure bet as you believe it is and you find an investor then you will have the money to produce 1,000 pieces per style per color and get better pricing!

If you insist on working with small factories then contact me and I will help you. If you need introductions to investors then let me know and I will introduce you.
 

Developing fabric with overseas fabric suppliers

If you don't know the exact fabric composition then you always have to option to ask the factory to recommend fabric. But that is like asking the attendant at a Starbucks drive-thru to recommend a drink. The factory can email you fabric descriptions like you see below but can you decide without having the fabric swatch in hand to feel and see the color?
Examples of fabric descriptions
If you need help developing your fabric overseas and you are willing to pay for it or you just want advice on how to develop your own fabric locally then contact me. I can assist you. The solution I will propose depends on where you live. The fabric mills and sewing factories in Vietnam will only help you develop your fabric if you are what they consider to be a big customer.

For example, if you just ask for cotton/spandex you will look like a rookie and frustrate the factory. There are many kinds of cotton like organic, pima, Supima, Egyptian, mercerized or GMO. Cotton can be rotorspun, ringspun or vortex spun. Cotton yarn counts can be 20s, 30s or 40s. Do you see how not knowing the exact technical specs for your fabric will frustrate the factory and make you look like a newbie. Put yourself in the factories shoes. Would you want to work with someone who knew exactly what they want? Are you able to tell your overseas clothing manufacturers the exact composition, weight and pantone color of your fabric? Or, do you want to meet a factory that will teach you about fabrics and give you options to choose from? Either way, I can help you.
 

Choosing the best international tech pack freelancer

Creating a complete tech pack is not easy. If you take short cuts when it comes to preparing the tech pack, then can the factory take short cuts when it comes to quoting price? Garbage in, Garbage out, right? I can introduce you to professional tech pack creators in Vietnam or near you. My best advice is to pay a professional to create your tech packs before you contact sewing factories. Here is why.

Creating a complete tech pack requires technical training and experience. If you wing it and create what you think will suffice then you are setting yourself up for failure. Professional tech pack creators know what minimum information needs to be in a garment tech pack in order for a factory to give you a price you can bet on. Professionals know all the technical jargon factories expect to hear. They understand grading concepts, labeling requirements and packing instructions. If you try to do it yourself and innocently leave information out then who is going to put the information in, the factory? Are you expecting them to help you for free? How will they feel?

Tech packs save you time and money in the long run? You can send your tech packs by email, for free, to factories in Mexico, Peru, China, India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka simultaneously - and 4/10 will reply back with a price. Now you have a price and you know you are comparing apples to apples, plus, you know that the 4/10 that replied are seriously interested in your business which is half the battle won! At this point you can ask the 4 to make counter samples and they might just do it for free! Now you've got pricing, you've got counter samples and you can pick the one you like best to move forward with. It's faster and cheaper in the long run to invest $1,000 upfront to have your tech packs made professionally and then use the power of email as opposed to traveling to all countries and asking them to develop the samples on-site using the factories precious manpower and resources - with no guarantee of getting your business.

What is the dollar value of a tech pack? How much does it cost to have a tech pack made? I use www.techpacks.co as a reference point. See their pricing for your reference. Generally speaking a tech pack dollar value is $1,000. If you don't have tech packs, then do you expect the factory to create them for you? Does that mean you are asking the factory to do $1,000 dollars of free work? How would you feel if someone ask you to do $1,000 dollars worth of free work. If you have your tech packs made in advance and they are professional and complete, then your chance of being well received by the factory is high.

Are you ready to contact tech pack freelancers near you or hire one in Vietnam? If yes, then send me more information about your garment styles, tell me where you live, and briefly describe your business plan. Or, if you want to save money and just travel to Vietnam to work with the factories face to face then I can offer you an affordable solution to go and visit overseas clothing manufacturers.

How much does it cost to make a tech pack? The average price for tech pack creation is about $500 USD. My advice is to have your tech packs created by a professional in your country before you send to Vietnamese factories. Do you have tech packs already made? If no, would you like to be introduced to a professional tech packer? Learn more about tech packs.
 

How to know your exact import tax for each garment?

The only way to be absolutely sure is to pay a customs broker to do a proper classification. Of course you can study the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and you can do the classification yourself. For a garment like a 100% cotton t-shirt, the classification is straight forward. But, when you start mixing yarns and getting into complicated constructions like ski wear or lingerie there might be more than one possible classification. Customs brokers not only went to school and passed a test to get their license they have a lot of experience to decide quickly with confidence. I can introduce you to customs brokers that will do the classification for you for $100. How much will you save in the long run if you can reduce the % duty from say 32% to 16.5%?

is so high that producing with overseas clothing manufacturers is not cost effective. Before you choose an overseas manufacturer, you should find out what the taxes will be for your specific garment. How to do that?

The HS code is found in the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System generally known as the Harmonized System or simply HS. It is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO). This system is accepted by and implemented in more than 200 countries worldwide. It categorizes goods into approximately 5,000 commodity groups. The harmonized system classifies each garment with an HS code based on its name, use, and/or the material used in its construction. HS codes are standard across the world but each country has their own tax rates for each code. you will have to pay to import your garment to your country. You need to know the HS code to know the duty rate to know the final price of your garment delivered to your warehouse.

Have you figured out the HS Code of your garment?
 

Are you ready for overseas production?

If you have all your ducks in a row then the next step is to start working with a factory to get a price quote and samples made.

because it's bad for both of us in the long run.

Red flags are sentences like: I know our product will sell well, or we have gotten a lot of good feedback from family and friends, or I have not seen anything like it in the market. Is this wishful thinking or true business analysis? Have you paid 10,000 USD to do proper market research by a bonafide market research company? Do you have an Instagram following of 10,000 dedicated fans? Have you exceeded your Kickstarter goals? Seriously, do you have 1,000 true fans that will buy whatever you produce? If no, then don't you think it's smarter to build your customer base first before you start learning about working with overseas manufacturers?

Manufacturing is a science like baking a cake. If the recipe is good, you use quality ingredients and you follow the instructions correctly then your cake turn out great. The same is true for making a garment. But the building a customer base or a targeted audience that shares your passion, is loyal and will buy whatever you bake is another cup of tea. My advice is to make sure you've done your market research, have an appropriate brand-name, have a well-thought-out branding message and marketing strategy before you spend time, money and energy on mastering production with overseas manufacturers.

Do you have your first 1000 true fans? If know then read this article that will explain why having your first 1000 true fans will ensure your success.
Vietnamese skilled workers
 

A factory that will teach

 
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