The women’s bras market has been called “the last piece of cake in the clothing industry”. Obviously, the underwear industry is still a field of great potential deserving us to invest.
You might have held the idea of establishing your own bra brand for a long time. You might already have your designs of bras done and you have made up your mind to enter the underwear industry. But you just don’t have a clue about how to turn your ideas and business into a reality, how to customize the bras and underwear you designed.
Don’t take the process of customizing underwear an unreachable task, as we help a dozen customers customizing underwear and bras every year, we can guide you through the whole process of the underwear production. You will not go wrong as long as you follow my lead step by step.
1. Find the Right Factory
Underwear factories can be divided into 2 types. One type is specialized in making seamless underwear (like sports bras), which are of simple style and patterns. The other one is more specialized in making handmade underwear, which allows producing more styles and patterns for bras. So before you choose the factory, you should define your bras if they are seamless or delicate ones.
The seamless underwear factories usually buy the yarns of different fibers and woven them into cylinder fabrics by machine, and those cylinder fabrics can be made into all types of seamless underwear after simple manual processing. As most of the seamless underwears are of one-piece and simple style, the requirement for the tailors is relatively low. Thus this kind of factory can hardly meet the requirement for delicate lingerie.
And the factories for common underwear or lingerie focus on the handmake process. They usually buy fabrics and the accessories back and the workers will tailor them into bras by hand. So it requires more experienced tailors. If the lingerie you demand is of delicate and complicated style, this type of factory is a better choice.
2. Offer Your Requirement, Get the Initial Quote
The next step after you settle the factory is to get the quote. Now you should offer the design of bras to the factory, they will quote the initial price according to the needed fabrics, accessories( buckles, straps, pads,etc.), and order quantity.
A. Send the sample to the factory
If you can offer the sample for the Chinese supplier, you can get a more precise price. As the supplier can have a better understanding of what kind of fabric and accessories to apply, and how complicated the crafts are, they can quote a more accurate and reasonable price for you. If you find a bra sells well in your competitor’s store, you can design a similar style and find a tailor to make a sample that you can offer to the factory.
B. Offer the design drawing to the factory
If you have your own designer, you can design new styles and the factory will quote you a rough price after estimating the material and labor costs. You can get the precise price after the sample is made.
3. Sample Making According to Your Requirement
If you find the initial quote from the factory acceptable and reasonable, you can ask the factory to make a sample for you, and the factory will charge a sample fee around $100 for one single sample. Although the size of the lingerie you need is different, one sample of one size is enough for you to check the level of the sewing crafts of the factory.
As we mention the sample fees, we can not leave out the model fee. Take it as an example, for bra production, the cup model is indispensable to help form the shape of the cup. If you are ordering bras, you should make sure if the factory has the cup model of the bras you designed.
If not, the factory would have to make a new model for you and it’s going to cost around $150-200 model fee. So it is vital to choose a professional underwear factory as they own more kinds of cup models for you to choose from.
Before sample making, the manager of the factory will give you some suggestions on the design drawing and make some changes in some details, as some might not practical for mass production. The factory will start making sample after both of you agree on the final design.
It will take 7-15 days to make the sample, as the factory needs to find the fabrics and accessories and dye the fabrics for the underwear you required. You should check the sample if all the details meet your requirements. You can also modify the sample if you have new ideas.
4. Confirm Size & Quantity. Place Order
If you are satisfied with the sample and the price, congratulations, you find the right supplier and you are much closer to your goal. But there are still many details you need to confirm with your supplier before you place the order.
Confirm the measurement of each size
You have only made one size sample when sample making, now you should make the measurement of every size accurate and precise. Especially the waist and chest measurements of bras and waist and hip measurements of panties. This is a vital detail you should pay attention to, as the size standards differ from country to country.
Confirm the quantity of each size
The unit prices of the same style underwear are the same, it doesn’t matter how many to buy for each size, the unit price is all about the style. Still, you should make it clear how many pieces of each size to buy, and then write down the number of pieces of each size on the purchase contract or invoice for the supplier.
Confirm the accessory list
The accessories of underwear are of great variety, especially for the bras. It is suggested to ask the supplier to paste all the accessories on a list for your confirmation.
Confirm the color of the fabrics and every accessory
To avoid the color difference, you can send the fabric in the color you expect to the factory. Or you can ask the factory to send you fabric samples with different colors in one book so you can choose the color. Besides, you can also use the Pantone color card for color confirmation.
5. Factory Purchase Fabric and Accessories
The factory will start preparing all the fabrics and accessories after you pay the deposit and confirm all the details. As the accessories needed by underwear production are various, the factory will go to the market and find the suitable supplier of every kind of accessory that meets your requirement, it usually takes 15-30 days to get all the materials ready.
6. Pre-production Sample
After you pay the deposit, you can ask the factory to make some pre-production samples. The materials for the pr-production sample are exactly the same as the bulk production, the pre-production sample should be an exact representation of what you will receive as the final products.
The pre-production is for you to determine if all standards have been met by the supplier. You can check the sewing construction, size measurements, fabric and accessories colors, etc. The pre-production samples must be submitted before bulk production so that you can have the opportunity to point out to the supplier if any errors or misunderstandings are discovered.
For example, you may notice that the brand label was sewn in the wrong location. Or possibly the factory accidentally used an entirely incorrect color of bra buckles. The factory should already understand the buyer’s requirements. However, issues are often overlooked. It is very important to check the pre-production before mass production.
7. Start Mass Production
If you approve of the pre-production samples, the factory will start to mass production.
First, they will dye and dry the fabric, which is all white when brought. Then the workers will tailor and sew the fabrics into bras and panties in the workshop.
The entire production process would last about 15-30 days. It depends on the arrangement of the factory’s order as the factory receives orders from other customers. It also depends on the complexity of the underwear you expect, and the quantity you order.
Therefore, It usually takes 40-60 days from scheduling, purchasing fabrics to finishing the whole production. Just in case the stock can not be replenished timely, it is suggested to purchase a little more quantity each time you place the order as the whole production cycle of underwear is very long.
8. Quality Inspection, Arrange Shipment
It is important to inspect the quality before you ship the goods home. After the bulk production finished, you can ask the supplier to pick out some samples randomly and send them to you. If you find there are no problems with quality, you can find a freight forwarder to arrange the shipment. You can either ship the goods to your own warehouse or a third-party fulfillment center like Amazon fulfillment center.
Besides, If you have sourcing agents or third-party quality control agents in China, you can entrust them to help you control quality. They usually offer the service to help you to check the quality according to AQL inspection standards to ensure the quality of your goods.