One of the most popular FAQs we have from those who are interested in custom clothes manufacturing is “how long does it take to manufacture custom clothing?” On average, it takes 4 to 6 weeks to finish a clothing order that uses an existing or standard design or is just a simple logo print. However, this really depends on a lot of factors which is why some orders may take 3 months to finish due to the complexity of the custom apparel designs, customs cuts and sizing. When you start a clothing design from scratch, it usually takes about 2 months for the whole process from design to production–again, it depends. Even for big fashion brands, the duration for producing garments (called lead time) differs a lot.
A lot of merchants these days take custom clothing manufacturing as a business option because of its popularity in the market. The only problem in this is a lot of them are not really knowledgeable in the custom clothing business and are still new to the industry. They see custom clothes manufacturing as a business opportunity but their lack of knowledge pose as a problem for them to thrive in such business. A good rule of thumb is that it’s faster when you already have a design with tech pack or when you are using a standard cut.
In this article, let us take a look at the entire process of dealing with custom clothing manufacturers. This will help you assess the actual lead time of custom clothes manufacturing for your business given your specifications and other factors involved.
Factors to Custom Clothes Manufacturing
There are certainly a lot of factors involved in custom clothing manufacturing. Garment and materials availability, production line efficiency, workload of the tailor/seamstress and a lot more. Other factors include the type of clothing being produced. For example, suits and coats take longer time to manufacture compared to dresses and shirts. The season is also a factor towards manufacturing since fall/winter season is the best time for t-shirt printing orders since manufacturers are often loaded with work during the spring/summer season for the following year’s main seasons.
All of these factors would add up to lead time in manufacturing custom apparel. It would be safe to assume it takes at least a month to finish custom clothes. It would be a huge plus if the manufacturer is able to finish it earlier than that. However, if the order is still unfinished after 10 weeks then it is no longer considerable. How to manufacture your product is very individual and also depends on how prepared you are with respect to your design.
Finding a Manufacturer for your Custom Clothes
The clothing manufacturer which you are going to work with is your partner-in-crime on your custom made clothing business. Whether it would be a small tailoring shop, a local seamstress or a major custom t-shirt printing company, their performance would be crucial to your clothing line. If you look at the factors to custom clothes manufacturing, it would be easy to identify how the clothing manufacturer could impact lead time since most of these factors can be attributed to them.
Finding a manufacturer which is perfect for your clothing business is crucial. Their lead time performance can dictate the status of your business. Make sure you are working with the right manufacturer who is on the same page as you are. Let us take a look at the step-by-step process to manufacture custom clothes to help you assess the steps and intervene with your manufacturer if they aren’t doing things right.
Step-by-Step Custom Clothing Manufacturing Process
1. Adjusting the pattern
Your clothing manufacturer starts with determining the pattern (also known as cut sheet). Pattern’s dimensions are all adjustable depending on your preferences and will be tweaked until the style and fit is right. The goal is to make sure that the dimensions and cut of your clothing is correct across all different sizes (S, M, L, XL etc.). This may take a week or two depending on your manufacturer’s workload.
2. Finalizing the design elements
The other design elements for your clothing are also called trims. These include zippers, buttons, threads and other items that are needed to make your clothing work. Put your creative mind to work for standing out. This may take a few days after a few back and forth in terms of decision making. As soon as you are satisfied with the design then you are good to go.
3. Choosing the fabric
Choose the right fabric to use for your custom clothes. There are specific types of fabrics depending on the style of clothing you want to make. Work through the different options keeping your target price in mind. Work around your budget since the fabric you will use could make up a big percentage of your custom clothing materials.
4. Cutting and sewing
The seamstresses will cut and sew your custom clothes from the fabric you have chosen following the pattern you have decided on. Other elements such as linings and notions will be added. Your custom clothing idea has become reality. The apparel manufacturer could take 2-4 weeks until the finished product is out. It depends on the complexity and production quantity.
The Standard Lead Time in Custom Clothing Manufacturing
If you decipher each of the steps involved to manufacture custom clothes, the four to six weeks timeline is ideal. The lead time could be greatly reduced for reproduction later on but the 4-6 week timeline is standard for new and fresh designs. This is why it is important to have chemistry with your manufacturer to ease out disagreements and avoid miscommunication which could prolong the product design & development and manufacturing process.
Obviously, lead time can be reduced in the long run as soon as you and the manufacturer are already comfortable of the entire process. Everything will get efficient in time and both of you can work out on sub-processes which may cause a delay in your custom made clothing business. If you are able to maintain a 4-week lead time for the entire manufacturing process then you are on the right track. Further lowering such mark may already compensate the quality of your clothing products or custom shirts. However, the trend is definitely going towards faster lead-times.