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Tips for talking to Manufacturers

Remedying wrong measurements

I’ve received lots of samples over the years and the main thing that seems to consistently be wrong (when errors are present at all) is the body length and/or sleeve length is always shorter than what my tech pack illustrates (usually by about 1-2 inches). I eventually realized it’s because the garment shrinks in washing. Washing due to fabric effects like acid washing or stone washing, etc. So to hopefully avoid this, you need to tell your manufacturer that the final garment measurements need to match the tech pack measurements exactly, [and that they need to wash the fabric first before sewing together (if garment needs a wash)]. I know this sounds incredibly obvious and redundant, like duh the garment SHOULD match the tech pack right? But you need to reinforce that detail by verbally telling them, preferably more than once.


The power of the word “Need”

Some people want their garment to look a certain way. You NEED your garment to look a certain way. Use the word “need” strategically. Whether your garment is complex or not, sprinkle in some “needs” to bring more attention to certain details you really want made as best as possible for the first (and hopefully only) sample.


-“…and the hoodie will be acid washed. Also I need the length of the of the hoodie to match the tech pack exactly or I can’t accept it”

-“The stone washing needs to have an even gradient going from bottom to top or we have to send it back”

-“The custom buttons on the denim jacket need to be this specific color of metal to match my other garments I have made already, if it’s not I can’t use it”

Say something that really enforces WHY you need that detail to be as right as possible. Mind you margin of error is always going to exist, it’s sooooo rare to get a sample that is actually perfect with no issues. So be aware of that; I’m just trying to show you different ways to try and reach the best outcome as possible.


(if sample is wrong and they refuse to remake it, file Trade Assurance with Alibaba for getting the wrong product. It’s annoying to go through the process but it is your one bit of leverage as a customer).


Including references

If your garment is to have a certain wash, a specific cotton type, custom hardware, etc.. it would be best to include reference pictures of those details. Doesn’t matter where you get reference pics from, if another brand has a distressing that looks cool and you don’t know how to verbally communicate that, just take a screen shot of distressing and use that. 99% of everything has already been done before, so save yourself the mental strain and just send a reference.



You’re going to have to repeat yourself and there’s absolutely no way around it. There could be many reasons why you need to do this. Maybe another department in their facility makes your custom zippers, or tags, or does the embroidery, you may have to re-explain that part of the project when the manu gets to it. Maybe you just wrote a giant paragraph of text explaining your project when you started the conversation; the manu will definitely break up your text and ask to clarify every detail. Maybe you submitted a thorough tech pack that has no chance of being misconstrued, yet they need more information and ask for you to send files that you literally already sent them. Sometimes it be like that. A veces es así, es verdad. It is annoying sometimes yes but be patient. THEY deal with hundreds if not thousands of people a day, you are a customer, don’t be rude, be stern instead. The clearer you are, in any sense, especially when repeating yourself, actually gets you closer to a high quality garment.

Be patient with them to make their lives easier. It’s easy.


Manufacturers have secret friends

Let’s say you want to get a jacket made with some custom metal buttons with your logo layered into them.

You message manufacturer “A” and Manufacturer “B” with this project.

Manufacturer A quotes you at $180 for the sample.

Manufacturer B quotes you at $150 for the sample.

Why is there a difference? (honestly could be anything, diff fabric source costs, diff sampling costs, diff embroidery cost, etc)

BUT for the sake of this example, the difference of $30 is because manufacturer A doesn’t have the laser machine in-house. They know somebody that does have that machine, so they have to pay them a little bit to “outsource” that laser engraving. Some manus won’t have every process available in their facility, they may need to reach out to a buddy company. So be mindful of cost differences; that’s exactly why you should message several manufactures when placing all your orders until you’re comfortable with relying on 2 manus or even just 1 manu.


Alibaba Trade Assurance is great leverage

If you find a manu through Alibaba, you automatically get Alibaba Trade Assurance after you pay for your goods. It’s basically saying, if you had a bad experience and/or the manu didn’t do their job right, you can tell Alibaba to get it right. I also recommend watching some YouTube videos about this and learn about some situations that other people have been in. It’s good information to be aware of; it makes the manufacturing process a little bit less scary.


Behind the Scene Content

You can ask your manufacturer if you can get a behind the scenes video/pictures of your project being made. Now you won’t get these BTS content all the time. The person you’re talking to isn’t the actual person making the garment, so they may forget, or not have time to go and take pics or videos because they’re working with other clients, or when they do have time, maybe you garment is actively being worked on at that moment, and so on. It’s nice to ask, but don’t expect it every time.


They’re not interested

Your manufacturer is never flirting with you, they’re just being nice. Trust me.


Be flexible, but strict

Sometimes I’m flexible on certain aspects of my garments. Maybe I wanted a certain blue and they had a slightly darker pantone available. Sure, i didn’t care about that blue anyway. The manu can’t dye the hoodie fabric my specific bone color, well that sucks, it needs to be that bone color, I’ll find someone else. Don’t be in a rush if you’re not gonna like the end result. They made one of your pockets with sharp corners and not rounded corners? Well the rounded corners help push a certain theme and personality of the garment and they need to be rounded. Tell them to remake it because they messed up, if they won’t, contact Alibaba Trade Assurance. Or if they’re being stiff, contact bank. There’s lots of ways to throw a fuss if the garment is wrong. Some fights are worth fighting and others aren’t. Maybe you could photoshop corners to be rounded for product pictures then have final bulk have rounded corners, there’s lots of remedies, it all just depends on how you want to operate.


Computer monitors look different to everyone

This has to do with telling your manufacturer to color match you graphic with the appropriate Pantone colors. This means that if you send a file of your graphic (PNG or PDF) and it looks a certain way to you on your computer (idk let’s say a MacBook Pro) and your manufacturer receives the file and opens it on their computer (let’s say an Asus Laptop) the graphic may look different because the screens and tech inside the computers may vary ever so slightly. So the blue that YOU see on your monitor may be “Pantone 7455 C” but the blue THEY see on their computer looks more like a “Pantone 2726 C.” And you told them to color match it, so now you get a different blue than yo wanted because of monitors displaying pixels differently. To remedy this? provide your own pantones. Use hex to pantone converter on google. Also YouTube how to do it.


Ask for pictures of swatch books

If you don’t know the pantone color by name, you can ask your manufacturer for a picture of their swatch book of your desired fabric. Let’s say you want a 400 GSM Cotton fleece fabric in baby blue. Ask them for a swatch book pic and they’ll show you all the possible blues they have and you can pic, “I like blue #46” and now you know exactly what color your garment will be. Just gotta ask.


Manufacturers assume things

As I’m writing this I just experienced this on my last batch of samples. The shoulder seam on the sleeves of the hoodies poked out a bit, it wasn’t smooth laying down the length of the deltoid/bicep area. The issue was the bottom measurement of the entire sleeve was too short, so it made the upper measurement of the sleeve “kink” down at the shoulder seam so both measurements could reach the wrist cuff ribbing. I gave measurements for everything except that bottom sleeve measurement. I goofed. The manu followed the tech pack correctly, but it was still wrong BECAUSE I didn’t include information I didn’t know I needed to include. I never gave that measurement before and it’s causing issues now, oh well, it’s a lesson, I include that measurement from now on. Make sure you know and are happy with all measurements on your garment, look for any areas that the manufacturer may assume a number for, don’t allow them, give them YOUR instructions to follow for everything.


And if you still don’t have a manufacturer after all these tips…


Then check out my Manufacturer Resource List HERE. It includes curated manufacturers, graphic designers, clothing blank vendors, and various other contacts for equipment and general supplies. (There’s also a bundle with my Mockup Pack if that’s what you’re looking for).