Want to start a fashion brand? Here's a guide for new customers on how to do it with HookandeyeUK!
It can be really tricky to know where to begin when starting your own clothing brand. Over the years we have devised a simple and proven process for our customers to follow.
So here it is - how to work with us to start a fashion brand, in nice, easy to digest sections (along with some really useful info)!
1. HOW TO CONTACT US!
(A) Introduce yourself
(C) What to send
(C) Pre-developed garments
2. OUR CUT & SEW PROCESS EXPLAINED!
Step by step guide A - D.
3. OUR OTHER SERVICES!
(B) Website development
(E) Wholesale garments
(F) What we don't do
4. REALLY USEFUL GENERAL INFO!
(A) Our MOQ's
(B) Measurement charts
(D) Quality standards & Bridge Brands
(E) There is no one level of quality
(F) Pricing guide
(G) What we can manufacture (and what we can't)
(H) Where we are based and where we manufacture
(I) Our ethical standards
1. IF YOU'RE LOOKING TO START A CLOTHING LINE, OR NEED CUSTOM MADE GARMENTS, YOUR FIRST STEP IS FILLING OUT OUR ENQUIRY FORM...
If we can help you the enquiry will lead you to a page with our WhatsApp number and tell you to WhatsApp us.
1. (A) Introduce yourself, nothing is more off-putting to a company then starting a conversation off with 'how much is manufacture?'. Please be friendly, we're just humans helping humans after all.
1. (B) What to send. You might already have tech packs and if you do, send them across! Otherwise send us screenshots (taken from anywhere online) similar to the garment you'd like to create for your fashion brand.
We already know that you don't want the exact same, you might just like them for a few different details (outline those details to us under the image you send with a short explanation). You might be thinking "what the hell is a tech pack?" if that's you click here for our handy guide to clothing tech packs!!
You may also like to check out our blog post on the cheapest way to design clothes - always useful for people looking to start a fashion brand.
1. (C) Pre-developed garments. You can, of course, have completely custom clothing shapes, but the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to design is to pick from our pre-developed shapes. These are not stock items - its just a shape to give you a guide. You can change colour / fabric / add graphics etc. All of these shapes are developed from the big brands' popular shapes like Palm Angels, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Fear of God etc.
Naturally, we have added a bit of H&E magic into the base shapes and made really cool bases to help you out! If you'd like to see our pre-developed range just ask us to WhatsApp to you :)
1. (D) Fabrics. Take a look at our fabrics section, take a quick screen shot of the fabrics you like and circle the colour options you like. Read more about how to choose the best fabrics for your clothing brand here!
1. (E) Branding. Finish off by giving us an idea of the style of branding that you want to add to your clothing line.
Done all of the above? Now relax - you've done your bit now!
We'll get back to you letting you know if / how we can help you to start a fashion brand!
If we can help, we'll have a conversation about the best next steps that will align with the size of your brand and your budget. We're here to help brands, not hinder. So unlike almost all other clothing manufacturers, we'll step in where you need us, and step back for the bits you don't!
2. OUR CUT & SEW PROCESS EXPLAINED!
Our cut and sew process is a very simple yet effective for startup clothing brands. Let us explain...
2. (A) The first step would be to book yourself in for a tech pack and design session with our head designer (and owner) Jocelyn.
I know you might think " I already have the designs so why do I need a design session?".
In a tech pack and design session (held via Zoom shared screen or in our studio) our designer takes your concept, no matter how big or small, and puts together a full tech pack for you.
Getting your tech packs right is one of the most crucial steps in starting a fashion brand.
Jocelyn will discuss all details of your design, create line drawings and discuss fabrics / trims. Together, you will choose a suitable base shape from either our pre-developed garment range, or if you already have a fit reference, we can copy the pattern from this too.
Jocelyn can create simple graphics for you (emphasis on simple), but if you have your own graphics already, then you should send those over prior to the session and it should be in Adobe Illustrator format.
At the end of the session you'll come away with full tech packs with all information needed for any manufacturer. These are yours to keep. If you've already looked at our tech pack and design session you'll have noticed they are super cheap, this is because we charge for time and not per tech pack/design!
2. (B) The second step happens behind the scenes- we get sampling and bulk production costing for you. Depending on the complexity of your items, you normally receive pricing in around a week.
2. (C) The third step is sampling.
Once you've paid your sampling invoice, we then proceed to send patterns to our Chinese manufacturer together with all details in a digital format.
They crack on with making your samples. You'll normally get these back in about 6-8 weeks. We first have the samples sent to our office in Birmingham, UK, where we check that everything has been followed correctly, make some comments and send them to you via courier service.
Once you receive the samples, we book you in for a free development session to discuss how much you love them...and if there are any changes you'd like to make...
2. (D) The fourth step is bulk production.
Bulk clothing production commences when you've cleared the 1st payment which is 60% of the total bulk production cost. It takes 4-8 weeks for the production, and then towards the end of it while the final inspection is running you will get a 2nd invoice for the remaining 40%.
Once all finances are cleared, your bulk clothing production is sent directly to you. There are a few different shipping methods to choose from depending on how much money you want to spend on it and how quickly you want your items.
(For some other really useful info see the section towards the bottom of this post)
3. OUR OTHER SERVICES FOR YOUR CLOTHING BRAND!
3. (A) LETS TALK PACKAGING! We can design and manufacture the lot:
- Branded swing tags
- Branded garment bags (even the frosted zip lock ones)
- Branded mailing bags
- Branded tissue paper
- Branded ribbon
3. (B) WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT - We have a website developer we work with who can create the website for you.
3. (C) PHOTOSHOOTS - Jocelyn (the owner of H&E) is great at creative direction and organising photoshoots for both e-commerce and stylised shoots for your range. She's done countless shoots and always delivers the images you need for your website/socials.
3. (D) SEO (Search engine optimisation) - We have a great SEO guy we work with that can help with finding the right place for your brand and how to elevate it. He's so great that he took Hookandeyeuk from page 6 on google to the top spot on page 1 in less than 6 months!
3. (E) WHOLESALE GARMENTS - Simply put, wholesale garments are blank t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirts that businesses can buy from wholesale manufacturers that are pre-made (and in stock) and cannot be altered per the request of the buyer. Some common blank companies include Gildan, Stanley/Stella, Bella+Canvas, and Fruit of the Loom. Blanks are identical to each other — they have no variation no matter who is buying them. Blanks can range from being very expensive to relatively inexpensive based on the manufacturer and quality level. They are accessible to all therefore make it very hard for brands to use the products to differentiate themselves. To learn more about the difference between wholesale and cut & sew (and the pro's and cons to each) click here!
3. (F) WHAT WE CAN'T DO - Only thing we can't help with ourselves (on the marketing / sales side) is distribution, but we can help with finding a great distribution centre for you!
4. REALLY USEFUL INFO!! READ ME!
This is super handy info for anyone wanting to start a fashion brand!
4. (A) 'What's your MOQ?' The lowest MOQ for simple items is 30 units per style/colour (which can be split into 4 sizes). This increases depending on complexity of the design and fabrics chosen.
4. (B) 'Can I send you my measurement charts?' We never use measurement charts for initial products when we are manufacturing your garments. Most manufacturers want to see measurement charts but it's just so they can find a close pre-existing block that they have. It never produces good shapes for the final sample, its just a short cut where manufacturers can make you keep paying for samples - they will make sure the measurement points match what you give but the general fit is usually terrible. This extends the process greatly and becomes really costly! Instead we make full patterns along with the tech packs so we can get the fit as on point as possible from the very beginning - we make these patterns from a mixture of our blocks, reference samples and the designs in the tech packs. This always produces the best results. Once we have been through full sampling and production for each new design (and worked out all the kinks) we can provide a measurement chart for use on your website!
4. (C) 'How much will this cost?' this is the question we get asked most, and the answer is always...
We really can't give you any estimate without doing your tech pack and design session first, there are simply too many variables to give a good estimated price.
Fabric choice, complexity of construction, number of graphic applications, number of units and shipping requirements all play a part in building garment pricing.
It's like asking how much it will cost to make dinner without telling us the ingredients that need to be used and how many people we're cooking for!
4. (D) Regarding quality standards & bridge brands, we specialise in bridge brands these are brands that are not value (think H&M) and not ultimate luxury (think Gucci) - the ones the 'bridge' the gap, think Stussy, Fear Of God Essentials, Palm Angels, Aries. Just really good quality streetwear and other garments that fall under that umbrella. We manufacture at an AQL (Average Quality Level) of 1.5 which is really good. Most low MOQ manufacturers only manufacture to an AQL of 3-4 (they don't tell you this because they want to offer you low prices to suck you in and then give you shoddy quality which you won't get a refund/remake for as you didn't state the quality level needed before you placed your order). With our quality standards you'll be able sell your garments to your customers for a lot more than you would as a value brand so your profits are much more. Generally the success of bridge brands is much higher for any start up/growing brand as it gives you the affordability (from your profits) to keep developing new ranges and provides your customers with high quality garments. This keeps customers returning to purchase from your brand. The only way to start a value brand where you have low cost garments that are at a reasonable quality is to have very high MOQ's (think 2K-3K mass unit spend per design/colour).
4. (E) There is no one level of quality! As mentioned above most low unit garment manufacturers only manufacture at an AQL of 3-4. The scale goes from 0.00 (the best, think couture/hand sewn) to 6.5 (the worst, think of the worst fast fashion brands you know).
Manufacturers don't tell you there is a scale to quality because they want to offer very low prices (at low quality) to pull you in, they will also not tell you up front shipping rates or give you shipping options so you don't have to pay customs when you receive your items, this leads you to believe the production cost is much cheaper then it actually is.
Another common tactic is to tell you your sampling cost is free of charge, this is just a ploy to lock you into bulk manufacture, as you have to pay this to start the sampling process...and really the sampling cost is just hidden in bulk manufacture costs!
At Hookandeyeuk, because of our high quality requirements we are not the cheapest clothing manufacturer out there, but you get what you pay for, and we're a lot more transparent!
4. (F) Pricing guide! If you've got this far in the blog we feel like you deserve a reward, so we're giving you something for free...
This is absolute gold that for anyone looking to start a clothing line....
We actually do a pricing analysis a couple of times a year where we take the average costing of the most popular garments and put them together in an excel sheet so you can see average costs, what you should be charging your customer and what your profits will be.
If you'd like that analysis, for free, just ask us to send over to you via WhatsApp.
4. (G) 'Can you manufacture my entire range?' It depends on what type of clothing your brand is looking to manufacture.
We specialise in streetwear and athleisure garments. You will struggle to find a manufacturer that can do both tailoring and streetwear because those are extremely different categories.
Good manufacturers usually specialise is one area: there will be tailoring manufacturers, shirting, denim, lingerie, activewear, street wear, outerwear etc.
Some areas might overlap slightly like for example we will do cargo trousers and windbreakers, and depending on the units we will do bomber jackets. We also do some simple bikinis, activewear and undergarments.
If your clothing requires specific machinery to manage the different techniques involved, for example, tailoring- that’s where we draw the line.
4. (H) Where are you based? We are a UK based company meaning that the designing, pattern making, and product development happens here in the UK, but the manufacturing and sampling happens in China.
We used to manufacture in the UK before covid hit but unfortunately the pandemic forced lots of the good fabric manufactures to close down and now there are too many fabric limitations, so it wasn't feasible to continue manufacturing in the UK. Also construction technologies are so much more advanced in China.
4. (I) Our ethical standards. Surely it's better to manufacture in the UK right? The short answer is no, not always.
Hookandeyeuk has always held ethical working standards and paying above living wages very close to our hearts from our inception.
China has a much lower cost of living than the UK. A simple example is property rental prices, according to NationMaster on the 28th of July 2022, average monthly rental costs for a 3 bedroom apartment in China would be $1341.17 vs $2011.39 in the UK. Another simple example is the cost of a dozen eggs in China is an average of $1.19 vs $3.54 (85% more) in the UK.
High inflation rates in the UK make a huge difference to what we have to spend out of our wages to live, meaning the wages need to be higher than China. This translates to higher production costs in the UK.
You have surely heard about the heartbreaking state of garment workers in the UK being paid well under minimum wage and working in terrible conditions for the fast fashion brands (if you haven't you can hear about it here).
Hookandeyeuk want to be no part of this.
China also boasts some of the best technological advancement in the world (way more than the UK), these technologies speed up the manufacture process helping to make it more efficient.
As with all manufacturing, knowing your suppliers well is key to making sure that working conditions and good ethical standards are upheld. That's what we do at Hookandeyeuk.
So, you're ready to embark on the exciting journey of starting a fashion brand. The good news is that you're in the right place to find the help and support you need to thrive.
We're a one-stop shop for all your new fashion brand needs.
Now that you know how to contact us and what to send, I'll add a link below to our most popular design session (which is the 4 hour session). This session is usually enough to design a small clothing range (as long as you have your ducks in a row).
If you click the link below you'll be able gain further understanding of what happens in a session, and a full breakdown of what you'll get!
Love H&E xx