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Clothing Manufacturing Companies In China – The Definitive Guide In 2022

Clothing Manufacturing Companies In China – The Definitive Guide In 2022

Today we are going to show you the definitive guide about Clothing manufacturing Companies in China.
China produces 39% of the clothing and textiles industry. In 2022 alone, China produced 43.6 billion items of clothing to a value of $153.2 billion.
That’s no small feat.
So, you are looking to China to get your clothing manufacturing companies in China too.
But where to begin looking? And how to know if you have the right clothing factories in China?
I want to help you separate the good from the bad and only find the very best Chinese clothing manufacturers for your needs.

Planning to import clothing or other textile products from China? In this guide, you will learn what need to know to select the right clothing manufacturer, create a techpack, select materials, get samples made, and much more.

The Very Basic Part Where We Start from is Looking for a Well-Reputed or High-Quality Clothing Manufacturer in China. How Can that be Identified? 

Well, when you start looking for manufacturers you should look for the products they deal in.

The variety of their products and the scope of their product. It is recommended to look for manufacturers who are specialized in the product you are looking for.

There are a lot of manufacturers in China who produce a wide range of products but it is better to look for those who are product specific. For example, if you are looking to order nylon gym shorts, then you should specifically look for manufacturers who produce only Nylon gym shorts.

You should not go for manufacturers who produce gym shorts made up of cotton as well as nylon. This was the example of gym shorts. Similarly, if you are looking for outdoor lawn chairs, then you should look for manufacturers who produce outdoor furniture only. You should not look and place an order to manufacturers who deal in all sorts of furniture.

The next thing to look for is the minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirement. For example, you require 50 units of a product and the minimum quantity the manufacturer accepts is 100 units, then of course you will have to look for another manufacturer. You need to look for manufacturers that are willing to accept your quantity.

When you are placing an order to a manufacturer, the manufacturer would provide their minimum quantities. These minimum quantities are set for four different variables which include minimum quantity per order, minimum quantity per color, minimum quantity per size, and lastly minimum quantity per fabric.

The MOQ varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The four different variables can be explained with an example in such a way that says you are ordering gym shorts from a manufacturer who deals in both cotton and nylon shorts. So, the minimum order manufacturer would be willing to accept might be 1000 pieces which can include 500 pieces per fabric which means 500 for cotton and 500 for nylon.

Then the manufacturer might have a variety of two colors and a minimum order of 250 pieces per color so you can simply select 250 pieces of each color for both of the fabrics. Then the last variable is minimum order quantity per size.

Usually, manufacturers range from 4-10 sizes. You can choose from these sizes and may place an order of a minimum of 100 pieces for each size hence totaling up to an order of 1000 pieces which was the MOQ for the whole order.

Testing for Clothing and Textile Products

Another very important factor to look at when determining the manufacturer is test reports. Textile products are tested in most of the countries such as Australia, Europe, the USA, and other countries as well.

These tests are conducted to make sure that safety standards are followed and the use of products such as chemicals and pollutants is avoided. In Europe REACH ensures these safety standards. However, talking about China most of the small-scale manufacturers are not aware of the material being used in the clothing.

However, we can not only blame the manufacturers for this activity as it involves the manufacturer of the raw materials as well. Due to the uncommon idea of testing in China, the material is not tested and clothing is manufactured straight away after receiving the material is received.

Other reasons for avoiding tests are that they are time-consuming and expensive at the same time. If you are located a country in the Europe or America it is necessary for you to choose a manufacturer who can provide a compliance track record in terms of test reports which are given by authentic third party such as ATI.

The compliance assessment can be based on documents such as the Heavy metals test report, Dyes test report, Bill of substances, REACH test report, etc.

The next significant factor to look at while selecting a manufacturer is fabric quality. This now depends on your choice. It depends on your target audience meaning the class you target. This also depends on who you want to compete in the market.

For example, let’s say if you want to set up a product that competes US Polo, then you would obviously have to go with a high-quality fabric that does not wear out easily, color does not fade after a few washes, does not shrink when washed and other characteristics that high quality US Polo shirts possess. The very basic step to do this is by selecting a manufacturer and ordering a few samples before placing a large order.

These samples should then be tested in different temperatures, washing thoroughly, using it very often and then analyzing the results after at least two weeks. If the shirt starts to wear out and the color starts to fade away this means that the shirt cannot match the quality standards of US Polo therefore it can’t be a competitor. Once you finalize a manufacturer based on all the characteristics discussed by now, you should let them know that you would not be compromising on the quality in any case.

Another way to go about this is to directly get in touch with the fabric supplier. For example, you have chosen a manufacturer based on all characteristics mentioned but you feel there should be some improvement in the fabric.

So instead of explaining it to the manufacturer, you can get in touch with the fabric supplier of the manufacturer and explain your requirements to them, the fabric supplier will then make amendments and ship the fabric to the manufacturer for production. This would make things easier for both you and the manufacturer.

The last factor you should be looking at is Sedex and BSCI Audit Reports. Both of these are organizations that provide memberships to manufacturers in light of carrying out social compliance audits in companies all over the world.

Clothing Manufacturing Companies In China – The Definitive Guide In 2022

The Criteria on which the Audit Reports are based includes many Significant Clauses which are:

  • The provision of health and safety of the workers
  • Special measures are taken for workers of younger ages
  • Child labor is avoided
  • The working hours do not overload the employees
  • People with a criminal record are not hired
  • Environment protection measures are taken
  • High moral standards and ethics
  • Peonage is avoided. Peonage, for your information, means debt slavery as in employing people to get some service so the person can be released from the debt. However, the terms of the debt are not set. This is said to be peonage.
  • Employees enjoy their right to freedom
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It is better to select a manufacturer that has access to these audit reports as obeying the protocols tells a lot about the company. It tells how the company values its employees. Obviously, a company that values its employees highly would benefit from the high productivity of its employees in return.

Chapter 1: Two Questions To Ask At The Very Beginning

1.1 What Kind Of Clothes Are You Making?

This is the very first question you need to ask.
Think very carefully about what it is that you want to make. You cannot just start searching on Google with a vague statement like silk shirt manufacturers in China.
You will get thousands of responses and most of China clothing suppliers will be useless to you.

You need to have much more detail about China clothing suppliers than that.
Chinese clothing manufacturers can make pretty much everything. But you need to look for the exact China clothing manufacturer that understands what you are trying to make. And can produce it for you.

1.2 What Is Your Price Point?

You can’t just email a factory and ask Chinese clothing manufacturers how much to make 100 t-shirts.
You need to figure out your price point and work backward. Reverse engineer what it will cost you and the china clothing suppliers to make your clothing.

How much will each item sell for in the shops? That can give you a good indication of what price you are selling them for. Which then tells you how much to play with to make them.
Once you know a clear answer to both of these questions, you can then begin your search for the China clothing suppliers.

Chapter 2: The Quest For The Perfect China Clothing Suppliersr

This is where the work really begins…

2.1 Chinese Clothing Manufacturer , Wholesaler or Sourcing Company?

There is a world of difference between all three.
You may not need a manufacturer. A wholesaler might be able to supply you with the clothing you need.
And wholesalers don’t have those annoying MOQ’s that the factories insist upon.

A sourcing company can help you save a lot of time, money, and heartbreak. They can find the right supplier for you in a fraction of the time it could take you to do it.

2.2 Finding a Chinese Clothing Manufacturer

It is not easy to find a good manufacturer. China clothing manufacturers rarely have a website, so you can’t just look them up online.

2.3 Where Are The China Clothing Manufacturers?

It’s a good idea to see where most of the clothing manufacturers are located in China.
You can mainly find China clothing manufacturers here:

  • Guangdong
  • Fujian
  • Zhejiang
  • Jiangsu
  • Jiangxi
  • Shandong

This is where around 70% of the textile manufacturers operate.

Chapter 3: How To Find The China Clothing Manufacturers

I want to break down all the methods of finding a China clothing manufacturer and which methods are better than others.

3.1 B2B Platforms

There are dozens of these platforms online. The most popular being

  • Alibaba
  • Global Sources
  • Made in China

In theory, it sounds like a great idea. Just do a quick search and BINGO! You have the China clothing supplier of your dreams.
In practice, it is not like that.
Unfortunately, many of these platforms are now filled with resellers and middlemen.

These are the very contacts that you need to get rid of!
Plus, you are not dealing with the factory face-top-face. You need to do business with the person who owns the factory – or at least is part of the operation.
That way, you can explain exactly what you want and they can tell you if they can help you or not.

3.2 Trade Shows

This is your best choice for finding a China clothing manufacturer.
But it involves travelling to China and being in-country.
You might think this is time-consuming and costly, but it will save you both time and money in the long run.

At a trade show, you get to talk to the factory face-to-face. You can now ask them any questions and get your answers.
You can see for yourself what kind of people you are dealing with – and if they are a good fit for you.

In one day, you could talk to many suppliers all under one roof.
The best trade shows in China are:

  • China Import and Export Fair (The Canton Fair)
  • Yiwu Commodities Fair
  • East China Import and Export Commodity Fair

Also, visit this site for a full list of current trade fairs in China

Apparel & Clothing Trade Shows in China

3.3 Industrial Meet Ups

You could also seek out any fashion and textile meet up groups in your own country.

This might be a good idea so that you can talk to other people. They might be able to give you some good leads – and certainly give you some advice if they have experience of buying from China.

3.4 Your Own Contacts

And ask anyone and everyone you know that does business.

  • Where do they buy from?
  • How did they find their suppliers?
  • What steps did they go through?
  • And what would they do now if it were their first time buying from China?

3.5 LinkedIn

I know I said that the online platforms are not a good choice, but many manufacturers use LinkedIn.
This might be a good place to do your initial searches, but you should still consider getting on that plane and heading to China.

So you have been to a trade show and met a few China clothing manufacturers first hand.
Now you need to talk about MOQ and regulations.

Chapter 4: MOQ

MOQ stands for minimum order quantity.
In the clothing and textile industry, MOQ is between 300 to 500 pcs per design.
That can add up very quickly!

If you have six designs it means you may have to order 3000 pcs.
No small amount of money…
Talk to the suppliers about their MOQ. If your order is too small, they will not be able to help you.
And if this is your first time, chances are your order will be relatively small.

Chapter 5: Your Country Standards

Another thing you need to check is the standards of your own country.
The last thing you want to do after you have found your dream clothing manufacturer is to have all your items held at customs.

The best way to avoid that is to check with the factory before anything is made.
There are organizations that administer these clothing regulations. Four of the most prominent are:

  • REACH (Europe)
  • FHSA (USA)
  • OEKO-TEX
  • California Proposition 65

5.1 Chinese clothing Factories are Unaware

Most Chinese clothing factories are completely oblivious to these regulations. They mainly produce clothing for the China market – and the regulations for color, fabric, and substance content are totally different there.

5.2 Fabric from Other Suppliers

Another problem that the factories – and you – could face, is that the fabric could come from other suppliers in China.
There could be many of these suppliers.

The factories don’t have the time to check with every single supplier to see if they comply with your country’s regulations.
Check with the above organizations to see that your manufacturer complies with the regulations of your country.

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5.3 Use Two Suppliers

The best way to make sure the fabric complies with your country’s regulations is to use two suppliers.
One for the fabric.

And one for the manufacture.
It may seem like a big headache to do this, but you are protecting yourself long term.

Chapter 6: Interview your clothing manufacturers in China

So you have defined your choice down to 4 or 5 suppliers.
Now you need to interview all of them.
Treat this like a job interview and you are seeking the ideal candidate to work with you.

6.1 Clothing Vendors in China Questions

I have compiled a list of questions for you to use when interviewing you’re shortlisted clothing manufacturers in China.

  1. What kind of clothing and textiles do you China clothing manufacturer?
  2. Can you supply the names of some companies that you work with? What brands have you worked with in the past?
  3. What is your MOQ?
  4. What are your average prices? (This can give you a rough idea when calculating price points)
  5. What equipment do you use?
  6. Where do you source your fabric? Do they comply with my regulations?
  7. What services do you provide? (Think of patterns, samples,     fabric sourcing and packaging)
  8. What are your finance terms? (Some companies offer credit)
  9. Are you scalable? (You may have an initial order of 1000 pcs, but later wish to increase to 3000 – can they handle this?)

6.2 Show Respect

Even though you are the customer and you are giving the manufacturer business, you should treat them with respect.
Do NOT talk to them as if they need you.
Instead, give them the impression that you would be a much-valued customer and you hope to have a long and lasting business relationship with them.

Finding the right clothing vendors in china is like trying to dig for gold.
You find the right one and you will want to hold on to them for life.

6.3 Are They Responsive?

That said, you can quickly determine if they are being serious with you.
Are they responding to emails in a timely fashion?

Do they sound keen to talk to you on the phone or in video calls?
You can gauge how serious they are with you by checking these simple things.

Chapter 7: You Find Your Perfect China clothing manufacturer

You have found your perfect China clothing manufacturer. Or your shortlist is down to 3 or 4.
But wait – you can’t just get them to start making your clothes.

You still need to check they can produce your designs to the standard you want – and your country demands.
Here is a simple checklist of what you need to do next:

  • send drawings
  • make samples
  • check schedules
  • negotiate terms
  • sign the sales contract

7.1 Send Drawings

You should send your China clothing manufacturer all your clothing drawings and any designs that you have.
In fact, give them as much information as you can.

If you have a tech sheet, give them that. But also give them fabric swatches and all of the research you have done for your collection.
The China clothing manufacturers should get back to you very quickly and tell you if they can produce your items.

7.2 Make Samples

Now you need to get samples made. This is no simple task.
Samples are essential and can give you a very clear idea of what the finished product will look like.

Also, by making samples, you can figure out what the finished product will cost you.
Short List Your Manufacturers

Surprisingly, many China clothing manufacturers fail at making samples. Between 30-50% of suppliers fail at producing quality samples.
This is where you can weed out that one last supplier who just cannot come up to your expectations.

Ideally, you should ask around 3 or 4 suppliers to produce samples at the same time.
You might think this is costly, but let me say this again – it will save you time in the future.

7.3 Check Schedules

Three or four weeks later you should have all your samples back. Now you can thoroughly inspect all of them.
Now you need to check the factory’s schedule.

Can they accommodate you and your order? Or do they have a huge order to process ahead of yours?
Check their schedule and make sure that they can squeeze you in.

7.4 Negotiate Terms

You are happy with your samples. And the manufacturer can process your order.
Now you should negotiate the terms between you both.
You will have no bargaining power at the first order. But maybe later, if you increase your production line you can get better terms.

7.5 Sign the Sales Contract

And the most important thing – sign a contract!
This will prevent any disputes between the both of you.
Put everything in the contract. Make sure you detail the specs of your product and compliance regulations – or the order is null and void.

FAQ

Do inspections cover all quality issues?

Not necessary as some of the fabrics may seem fine at first unless they are used and then washed. The color may start fading after three to four washes and the size of the cloth may start shrinking after some washes as well. So, it cannot be said that inspection can cover all quality issues.

What is the usual cost to get a quality inspection in China?

Usually, 260 US Dollars are charged for standard inspection. However, the inspection varies on the volume of goods being inspected. The standard inspection can cover up to three thousand pieces.

What are the steps to be taken in case the inspection fails?

The foremost step is to not pay the remaining 70% balance. The company should be given a time of fifteen days to amend the problems that caused the inspection to be failed.

Material Lab Testing

The old test reports cannot be related to the new batches manufactured of garments however the existing test reports can be used to assess the supplier. The only possible way to be satisfied is by getting a third-party compliance test booked.

The third-part test options include testing from a lab. You can choose from getting the test to verify compliance with a certain regulation or to check if the final product contains specific substances. The tests used which are already mentioned can be REACH, OEKO text standard 100, heavy metals, and chemicals.

Third-party lab testing is compulsory for most garments except non-children garments. This form of testing is the only way to verify if the material being used is compliant and the test is used if a government agency asks for one when importing.

The process of collecting a sample starts with the quality inspector collecting the sample from the company. This is necessary as there is a chance of submitting compliant samples if the supplier submits the samples themselves.

It is important to assure that the sample ID is pasted on the envelope so the testing company is able to identify the samples.

After the test is performed you will receive the report in a PDF format which will convey if the products have passed or failed the test. The same report can tell if the products are compliant with the safety standard such as REACH and CA Prop 65. You should keep the test report safe with you at all times as any government agency may ask for it at any time.

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FAQs regarding tests:

What is the cost of lab tests?

The cost is based on the number of different fabrics, colors and the number of tests conducted. The mean value industries usually pay is somewhere between the range of 400 to 800 US dollars for five fabrics.

As far as testing every order is considered, no, it is better to get the first order from a supplier tested and then whenever the fabric is changed another test should be conducted.

Shipping

Now we are moving towards our last stage of the whole process. Yes, we are talking about shipping. The first step, however, is to clear all the remaining payments if you are left with any.

It needs to be kept in mind that once the final payment is paid the supplier is not responsible for any defective pieces. So, the payment should be made after you receive the quality test reports and in case of any issue, the payment should be done once the issues are resolved.

After you have made the final payment a copy of the receipt should be sent to the supplier and one receipt should be kept to yourself.

The next step is to book shipping online on platforms such as flexport.com. It is beneficial to book it online as these shipping services are usually tracked. It is also essential to make sure that the cargo is insured. It is highly recommended to take care of the shipping by yourself rather than asking the supplier to take care of it.

It is always a crucial decision to choose between air and sea shipping. Air shipping takes much less time as compared to shipping by sea but it is recommended to ship by sea when shipping more than 150 kgs. When importing cloth, it is likely that the weight is over 150 kgs.

It is necessary to get your items shipped before transporting them as when loading and unloading there is a high possibility of damaged goods or molded cartons. The only way to receive compensation is through insurance. Insurance is not provided by default so it has to purchase before the goods are collected from the factory. The cost of insurance depends on the value of the consignment being imported, however, usually, It costs around 70 to 170 US Dollars. Some costs are not covered by insurance, these include shipping costs and any other quality issues in the products as the supplier is responsible for them.

The packaging for the products should be done properly so minimum loss occurs. It is necessary to provide explicit instructions to the forwarder for how the cargo should be packed. It is recommended that the inner carton has three to five layers and the outer cartons have a minimum of five layers.

The outer cartons should also be wrapped with plastic to prevent mold. The foam should also be used for protection so if some water tries to seep in the foam immediately absorbs the water.

Summarizing the shipping process in some key points as follows:

  1. The balance is paid to the retailer.
  2. Pallets are packed and filled with the items.
  3. A truck is sent by the freight forwarder to the warehouse to pick up the cargo.
  4. The cargo is delivered to the loading terminal (e.g, Hong Kong). Based on the actual weight and volume, the forwarder should confirm the final cost.
  5. Pay the forwarder directly for the shipping costs.
  6. The cargo is loaded onto the ship and transported to its final location.
  7. The cargo arrives at the destination port and is processed by customs.
  8. The freight is transported from the destination port to your address by the forwarder.

What are the locations of the majority of clothing manufacturers in China?

Clothing manufacturers are spread all over China and are not limited to one place. However, large manufacturers are in the following provinces:

  • Fujian
  • Jiangxi
  • Zhejiang
  • Jiangsu
  • Guangdong

Is it possible to buy wholesale from a clothing manufacturer in China?

That is not possible as most of the manufacturers make orders on demand are not stocked up for the year. They only produce after they receive an order.

What is the cost of manufacturing clothes in China?

There is no set standard cost for clothing. It depends on the material, the color, and the quantity as well to an extent. For example, a shirt could cost a dollar as well as twenty dollars depending on the fabric.

Is brand-name clothing available in China?

Even though a lot of brands get their clothes manufactured in China but the manufacturers are not allowed to sell those clothes directly to customers. Those clothes are supposed to be bought through the respective brands.

The next step towards your order is getting your clothing design manufactured and how to do so.

COVID-19 impact on textiles manufacturing

How have China’s textiles manufacturers been impacted by COVID-19?

Overall, the COVID-19 disruption has been fairly limited in Mainland China. Factories resumed operations as early as March 2020 and have continued to operate since then. That said, worker testing and regional restrictions have resulted in delays for a fair number of our customers.

Keep in mind that the textiles industry is highly interconnected. Delays caused by shutdowns in one province (or another country for that matter) can delay fabric and garment accessories deliveries – which has a direct impact on your lead times.

Is China still competitive in clothing manufacturing?

The main competitive edge of the Chinese garment industry is the fact that they have overall remained open. Some buyers were forced to shift orders back to Mainland China after their suppliers in India and Vietnam had to close down as a result of the 2021 outbreaks.

That being said, both Vietnam and India have since resumed operations.

How have the increased shipping costs affected clothing manufacturers?

Shipping costs from Asia to Europe and North America have increased by as much as 10 times. Garments, which are high in volume, are normally shipped by sea – which has resulted in profits being decimated by many brands and importers.

As a result, a significant number of our customers started buying from clothing manufacturers in Europe, Turkey, and Mexico in 2021. While it’s still more expensive to manufacture textiles in, for example, Europe compared to China, the freight rates alone drive the landed unit costs to levels that the two are comparable.

We expect this trend to continue for as long as the shipping costs remain as insanely high as they currently are.

Further, the shipping costs are not only impacting clothing manufacturers in China though. Suppliers in other Asian countries also face the same situation.

Conclusion

This really is just the beginning. Once you have found a shortlist of China clothing manufacturers – and that could take some time – you then need to get samples made and check these thoroughly.

The next stage is production.
And that is another process altogether.

But for your initial search for your first China clothing manufacturer, please follow the steps above.
As long as you check all the procedures outlined above you should save yourself a lot of trouble and find a great manufacturer for your clothing collection.

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