MAGIC Market Week Recap: Sourcing 101 for Fashion Designers

Factory Sourcing

How do you run a smart fashion business as a design entrepreneur? The key is starting with a roadmap for production. In a seminar at Sourcing at MAGIC, a seasoned panel of industry experts shared their knowledge on the basics. Moderated by Frances Harder of Fashion Business Incorporated, they covered some of the must-haves and 101s when starting your business.

Understand What You Want

Part of the challenge is trying to determine what you want when you begin the sourcing process. Some factors to consider when developing your supply chain include:

  • Target market
  • Price
  • Speed to market
  • Where is your factory located for logistical purposes
  • Does your factory provide extra materials such as fabrics, raw materials, trims or pattern making services? Or, do they offer everything at the factory such as pattern making along with cut and sew capabilities.

Do Your Needs and Expectations Match Each Others

Communication is one of the most important factors when working with suppliers. Construction details, fabrics, trims and size specs need to be clear and the way to do it is through a tech pack. Rooham Rahman of Charming Charlie mentioned that it's always good to send a photo because “pictures are an international language.” Other details like purchase order terms and conditions and deadlines, work in progress reports all need to be discussed upfront so you and your providers understand the roadmap and deliverables.

Considerations when Looking for a Factory

  • The capacity and availability of the factory
  • Minimums in terms of fabric, style and color
  • Does the factory write and speak English
  • What is their response time
  • Do they understand your questions and comments completely
  • How often do they provide work in progress reports

Have a Logistics Gameplan

Designers should consider a logistics manager because it will have major implications on your business, especially when producing internationally. For example, there are cost differences when you use Fed Ex, UPS, versus having a freight forwarder. Not having a customs broker, may delay clearance on your goods which can be common for an emerging designer.

In the end, is up to you to do your homework, talk with the right people and communicate your production needs to run your business efficiently.

The panel was made up of the following experts that offer services for emerging designers:

Rooham Rahman, VP, Global Sourcing, Charming Charlie Susan Power, Owner, About Sources Benita Singh, Co-Founder/CEO, Jason Prescott, CEO,,, and Author of A Guide to product sourcing for entrepreneurs and small business owners

Emerging Designer or have a resource to share? Please feel free to contact us at

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