Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Working With Clothing Manufacturers

The excitement of seeing your clothing designs finally materialize can quickly fade if production goes awry. I’ve seen countless brands ruined by poor manufacturing execution.

Sewing errors, subpar materials and sizing mishaps erode customer trust and kill margins with wasted inventory and reorders. But many common manufacturing issues are preventable with the right diligence and oversight.

In this article, I’ll share the top mistakes brands make when working with apparel factories - and how to avoid them. Follow these tips to ensure your clothing production goes smoothly, on time and on budget.

Mistake #1: Not Providing Detailed Specs and Tech Packs

Eager to get samples in-hand, many brands give factories basic sketches without key details needed for production. This vagueness is asking for trouble.

Skipping specifics on measurements, fabrics, trims, construction methods and branding elements leaves room for misinterpretation and mistakes. I once received samples back in the wrong colors because I never specified Pantone codes.

Tech Packs Prevent Confusion

Save yourself headaches by investing time upfront creating detailed tech packs for each clothing style.

These specifications documents remove all uncertainty. Include flat sketches with precise measurements, front/back views, placement drawings for logos etc. Define every visual detail of materials, hardware, stitching, care instructions and branding.

Giving factories thorough tech packs ensures no design elements get lost in translation. Spend the effort early to avoid problems later.

Mistake #2: Not Ordering Pre-Production Samples

Eager to move into bulk production, some brands skip ordering samples. But without physical versions to evaluate fit, feel and construction, you risk wasting money on low quality bulk orders.

Samples allow you to see how your designs translate to real life. Are the proportions right? Do the textiles drape well? Is the craftsmanship up to par?

Refine Before Committing to Bulk

Don't be afraid to request tweaks and revisions to samples until everything is perfect. This upfront refinement prevents you from being stuck with thousands of faulty product units.

For example, denim brand DL1961 went through 13 iterations with their factory before bulk production to achieve the perfect jean fit. That dedication to samples prevented costly mistakes.

Yes, samples add time and money. But they are a fraction of the cost of large production runs. View them as insurance for quality.

Mistake #3: Rushing Production Timelines

Under pressure to deliver orders swiftly, many brands push their factories to meet overly aggressive timelines. The results are often late deliveries or sloppy workmanship in the rush.

Building in lead time buffers is crucial - both for factory production schedule and your own deadline flexibility. Expect initial sample rounds to take 15-20 days. Building in 2-4 weeks buffer is wise for bulk production as well.

Don't Let Speed Sacrifice Quality

If you pressure factories to cut corners to shave time, you sacrifice proper construction techniques. Rushed sewers are more prone to errors. Give your production schedule room to breathe.

Plan your designs and seasonal collections further out to avoid last minute crunches. Gather feedback early so refinements happen when time allows. Don't let production be an afterthought until you desperately need inventory.

Mistake #4: Skipping On-Site Factory Inspections

It's tempting to choose apparel factories based on emails, photos and samples alone. But nothing replaces an in-person visit.

Tours build relationships with production managers. Watching lines actively running lets you inspect stitching, fabric quality and finishing details first-hand. You immediately spot issues rather than waiting weeks for pictures that mask problems.

Hands-On Attention Improves Quality

Factories also appreciate when brands take an active interest. It shows you value quality control, not just lowest cost. These site visits facilitate collaboration to meet standards and solve problems.

Regular check-ins during long production runs are ideal. But at minimum, visit any new factory before placing bulk orders. Catching issues early protects your brand reputation.

Mistake #5: Poor Version Control and Communication

Disorganization kills many apparel projects. Failing to properly track design iterations and communicate changes leads to confusion.

Label each sample version clearly and keep detailed notes on feedback. Archive old versions to avoid referencing outdated specs.

Equally important is promptly relaying revisions and approvals to your factory. Assume no change is final until confirmed in writing. Follow up by phone if modifications aren't executed.

Diligent Organization Prevents Errors

With multiple styles and constant tweaks, it's easy for wires to get crossed internally and with your factory. Establish organized systems upfront to avoid errors.

Many brands use PLM software to centralize all design specs, comments and factory correspondence in one place. There's no excuse for mismatched versions or conflicting information.

Smooth manufacturing comes down to buttoned-up project management. Don't let sloppiness ruin perfectly good designs.


Producing clothing inevitably brings challenges, but many headaches can be avoided. Use these tips to collaborate effectively with your factory partners. Invest time in detailed specs, robust samples and transparent communication. Your hard work will pay off with flawless execution.


How many pre-production samples should I order?

Plan on ordering 3-5 units of each style for early feedback. Order 10-12 units of your final sample design to assess consistency across a small batch before bulk production.

Should I work with factories in my home country or overseas?

For lower costs, overseas factories are preferable once you have volumes, but can make hands-on quality control tricky. Local factories allow closer relationships and oversight.

How much should I budget for sampling costs?

Budget $500-1500 for your early prototype samples, depending on complexity. Final pre-production samples will likely cost $100-300 per style.

What key details should I include in tech packs?

Tech packs should have all details needed for production, including materials, measurements, branding placement, construction methods, wash instructions, packaging and compliance specs.

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