How to Find Clothing Manufacturers for Your Business

Andrew Roach Getting Started

8 mins read 37 comments

Fashion is one of the most popular niches in ecommerce, and it’s no secret that it’s a difficult one to break into, especially if you’re a beginner. After all, fashion entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe are launching new online stores every day.

If you’re looking to launch your own clothing brand, it’s important to make your brand stand out from the crowd, and selling unique products is a great way to do that.

Of course, the challenge is finding those unique products, and that’s why many entrepreneurs opt to create their own products. Choosing whether to supply clothes to kids, adults, or even both, is a hard decision to make, and you may need some guidance starting this process..

If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to launch their own clothing business with custom products, you’ll need your own designs. What’s more, you’ll also likely need to work with a clothing manufacturer to turn these designs into products.

Launching a clothing business can be tricky, especially if you want to manufacture your own clothing, so we’ve created this article to guide you on your way. In this post we’ll cover everything you need to know when looking for a clothing manufacturer for your brand.

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Do You Need a Clothing Manufacturer?

clothing manufacturers for small businesses

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself when thinking about launching your own clothing business is: Do I really need to work with a clothing manufacturer?

If you’re just getting started with your business, it’s important to know that working with a clothing producer can be a risk – both financially and with regards to your time.

When you’re working with a clothing manufacturer, you’ll need to place bulk orders for your inventory. That means you’ll receive a large number of products that you’ll need to store and manage yourself – this could eat away at valuable business funds if you’re starting out on a shoestring budget.

This isn’t a problem if you find your audience likes the clothing you’ve created, but there’s no guarantee that this will be the case. This is an issue that even the biggest retailers face. The only difference is that they can afford to absorb some of the losses if their clothing doesn’t hit the ground running.

As we said, working with clothing manufacturers can be a risk.

If you’re just launching your business, or if you want to experiment with different niches, we recommend that you start lean.

We don’t want you to end up in a situation where you’re trying to clear out your inventory at discounted prices, resulting in you actually losing money.

If, however, you were to start your business using the dropshipping model, you wouldn’t need to worry about sourcing, managing, or shipping your inventory. There are a plethora of great dropshipping products that you can choose from, and your supplier will ship the products directly to your customer’s door.

Also, you can change the products that you’re selling with just a few clicks – there are no financial repercussions as you haven’t already manufactured the products.

All you really need to worry about is growing your business.

With options like dropshipping available, we recommend thinking about starting small to find out if there’s an audience that you can tap into before you start making moves towards working with clothing manufacturers.

Of course, finding a clothing manufacturer for your business and producing your own inventory can certainly be a great way to run your business. Let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of working with clothing manufacturers.

Choosing a Clothing Manufacturer

clothing manufacturers china

When you’re in the market for a clothing supplier, you’ll first need to ask yourself whether you want to work with domestic manufacturers in the country you reside in (for example, the UK, the USA, or Canada). The alternative is sourcing your products from overseas clothing manufacturers, like in China or India.

For reference, when we mention domestic manufacturers we are largely referring to clothing manufacturers in the USA or Europe, and when we reference overseas manufacturers we are referring to countries like China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Of course, both of these options have distinct advantages and disadvantages – it’s up to you to choose which option suits you best in terms of funding, quality, and your business ethics.

We’ll break down some of the pros and cons of working with both domestic and overseas clothing manufacturers below.

Domestic vs. Overseas Suppliers

Domestic Clothing Manufacturers

We live in a world where buyers are becoming increasingly conscious about the working standards and the material quality that comprise the clothes they are purchasing.

When it comes to domestic clothing manufacturers, you’re more likely to receive higher quality products, with regulated labor standards. However, they will come at a cost – it’ll be more expensive to source your products from domestic clothing manufacturers.

If you’re going to pay the extra fees to use domestic clothing manufacturers, it’s a great idea to emphasize the fact that you’re working with local industries in your marketing material. This can really help to strengthen your brand image with buyers who are conscious about such topics.

Another great benefit to working with domestic clothing manufacturers are the shipping times.  Shipping is going to be much faster than it would be if you were working with clothing manufacturers from overseas. It is also typically cheaper than it is when you work with overseas manufacturers. This is just another benefit to working with domestic clothing manufacturers.

However, one major downside when working with domestic clothing manufacturers is that there is generally a much smaller choice of products when compared to manufacturers from overseas. This might not be an issue for you if you’re looking to manufacture generic products, but if you’re looking for something more niche, you might find that overseas suppliers are the better option.

Overseas Clothing Manufacturers

There are plenty of overseas clothing manufacturers that can help you create products for your business, often at a much lower cost than that of a domestic manufacturer.

However, the quality of the products from an overseas clothing manufacturer might not be as high as a domestic manufacturer. This is certainly something to be aware of, in addition to the unregulated labor standards that might be employed by those manufacturers.

Overseas clothing manufacturers can include manufacturers from China, India, Taiwan, and a host of other Asian countries. For many years, clothing manufacturers from China have been the most popular, with companies that produce all types of clothing for dropshipping and resale easily found online.

Further, it’s likely that you’ll experience longer shipping times for your products if you opt to work with an overseas clothing manufacturer, and shipping costs will likely be more expensive than if you were to work with a domestic company.

Finding a Clothing Manufacturer for Your Business

clothing manufacturers USA

Okay, now that we’ve broken down some of the benefits and drawbacks of both domestic and overseas clothing manufacturers, it’s time to provide you with all the info you need to find the right one for your business.

Industry Meetups

Industry meetups can be invaluable for you while on your search for the right clothing manufacturer for your business.

Attending local events and larger scale trade shows will help you to meet plenty of people with connections to clothing manufacturers.


Directories can provide you with a wealth of clothing manufacturers for your business.

We recommend sticking with well-known online directories like Makers Row if you’re from the USA, and Sqetch if you’re from Europe.

If you’re looking for an overseas clothing manufacturer, then Kompass is fantastic for clothing businesses. Once you’ve found a clothing manufacturer, you can reach out to them directly and explain exactly what you’re looking for.

Search Engines

This will come as no surprise, but search engines like Google are a fantastic resource that you can use to find a clothing manufacturer.

One thing to note is that manufacturers don’t update their websites regularly, so you’ll probably need to trawl through quite a few pages before you find any relevant results. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of legitimate clothing manufacturers out there!

Facebook Groups

There are plenty of groups on Facebook that are filled with supportive entrepreneurs who are looking to give back to the community.

We recommend joining groups like Shopify Entrepreneurs or Kingpinning, and using any of the resources that are available there to help you find a clothing manufacturer for your business.

Make sure that you read through the rules of the group and ask any questions that you have about starting your own clothing brand.

Bonus: If you’re interested in dropshipping, there’s a great Facebook group called Dropship Business Masterminds which we recommend joining!

Old-Fashioned Research

It’s important to network and to ask people in the industry for advice on how to find the right clothing manufacturer for you. For instance, for clothing manufacturers in China, it’s important to ensure that factories have the correct substance control and that they comply with the textile regulations of your country.

For clothing manufacturers in China, the UK, or the USA, sizes can be a nightmare if you’re selling in many different markets, so having a manufacturer that allows you to create a custom label for your clothes is paramount. Talking to others who have worked with such US and Chinese manufacturers can help you answer all the right questions at the right time.

Choosing the Right Clothing Manufacturer

how to find clothing manufacturers

After you’ve gone through the resources above, you’ll probably have quite a few potential clothing manufacturers for your business. The next step is to refine your list.

Take into account the following:

  • Price
  • Shipping times
  • Quality
  • Experience

You’ll want to choose the manufacturer who can provide you with the highest quality products for a price point that aligns with your current business funds.

You’ll want to find a manufacturer that can provide you with the fastest shipping times (depending on whether you’ve chosen a domestic or an overseas supplier).

Further, you’ll want to work with the manufacturer that has the most experience – you want to be sure that they’ll be able to deliver your requests.

In the above section, we gave you a list of ways that you can find clothing suppliers, but this checklist is a great way of assessing all of the suppliers you’ve found.

Do your research. Ask around. Do everything you can to find the best clothing manufacturer for your business.

In an ideal world we always recommend going to visit the clothing manufacturer so you can review their processes. We know this isn’t always possible, but if you can, we advise that you ask the clothing manufacturer if you can make a visit before you order any products. This will help you to validate your decision to work with them, and build your business relationship, which is essential in a long-term partnership.

Wholesale Clothing Manufacturers

Wholesale clothing manufacturers can be the way to go if you are looking to start a small or large clothing business. Wholesale is a great business model if you have the space to store merchandise. This is because you can purchase large quantities of stock at a reduced cost and then sell it to your customers at a marked-up price.

If you are not able to store large quantities of stock, you should consider dropshipping as no storage is required. After sourcing clothing from a manufacturer, you don’t need to order anything – just simply offer your merchandise to your customers. Once an item is purchased, contact the manufacturer or supplier and place the order with them. They will then deliver the product to the customer in a timely manner.

Summary: How to Find Clothing Manufacturers for Your Business

To wrap up, here are the pros and cons of working with a clothing manufacturer:

Pros of working with a clothing manufacturer:

  • You have the creative freedom to produce the type of clothing that you want.
  • You are able to build a brand image.
  • You have more control over marketing.

Cons of working with a clothing manufacturer:

  • You have to bulk buy items.
  • You increase your risk.
  • You need to make an upfront investment.

Start Your Clothing Business Today

Okay, that’s it – that’s everything you need to know when you’re choosing a clothing manufacturer for your business.

Remember, this is a big decision for your business, so take the time to properly do your research and find a manufacturer who fits your business needs. The extra time that you spend now will help you to avoid any larger setbacks in the future.

If you’ve got any questions about clothing manufacturers, or about ecommerce in general, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below – we read them all!

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Andrew Roach
Andrew Roach
Andrew Roach is a Content Marketer at Oberlo. He is passionate about ecommerce and creating insightful content to help entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.