Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Guten Morgen, avez vous un...?

Fabric ordering...testing out my non-existent German and French skills in a very dodgy Lancashire accent.

So after facing my indecisive demons head-on I finally decided on my fabric selection...happy sigh. But how much do I need, how long will they take to arrive, do I need a VAT number....argh questions?!?!?! Fortunately the answers are out there folks and my sponge head is ripe and ready for information overload. So here goes.

1. Plan.
On the recommendation of my fashion production pals I made this chart. The point of it is to gage how much fabric you are going to need. It was a great way for me to organize my thought process and map the collection in my mind.

2. Ordering fabrics.
So when I went to Paris to Premiere Vision I ordered samples from tons of fabric companies. Some of them sent them through, some didn't (Small designers are not a priority apparently). From these I select my choices and ring up to find out the scope. The questions that need to be asked are:
a) Do they do orders for small amounts?
Yes - What is the surcharge for ordering small amounts?
- If it is a stock item, will they always have more available? (As you will need to reorder for production).
- How long is delivery for sample orders?
- How long is delivery for production orders? (These vary).
- How do they want payment and when? (Most want it before shipment of your order I have found).
- Order fabric, usually via email. Follow them up religiously by phone and email. Ordering such small amounts seems to coincide with severe memory loss on their behalf, strange that?
Also they will sometimes ask for a VAT number (I don't have one as I am not yet VAT registered. You can do this but not usually done till you start earning over a certain amount).
No - Do they have anything else in stock that is similar? (i.e rolls that are left over from previous seasons).

3. Pay.
Has so far been via bank transfer or card payment over the phone.
n.b When paying directly into foreign accounts it can prove tricky. You have to go into a bank as they won't allow you to do it over the phone or online. They then charge you for the privilege. I paid £15 for the slowest transaction (about 4 working days). It was £40 for the fastest. It varies from bank to bank and I asked the bank staff what alternatives there are?
- You can set up a direct debit type account with the company. They will need to send you forms to fill in and sign etc (can be quite a lengthy process coming from abroad).
- Try different establishments, banks etc to see who has the best rates. I have been advised that the Post Office and Western Union are good ones.
- There MUST be other options so if you know of any please share and write below. It seems rather archaic for the noughties non....?

4. Make notes on prices, delivery times etc
- You will need to do this so you can work out the lead time on garments and when you need to get everything ordered by to make deadlines and to work out prices for the retailers you sell to.

n.b You will need to do this with everything from the cost of the label to the trimmings and zips etc..

5. Hug the Fed Ex man when he delivers.


  1. yeah i noticed that i had to stay on top of the fabric people when i did my order. it was a giant fiasco because i had to 2-day ship 70 pounds of fabric. Who do you use for fabric if you don't mind my asking. Can you email it to me @ mymasayume@gmail.com? i would be forever grateful ^_^ i can't wait to see your AW 10 line.

  2. Hi Charlotte, I saw Susie's post and think your blog is fantastic. There is so much info and help for me (textiles turned knitwear designer). I particularly found useful the information about how much samples cost compared to actual manufacturing costs. This it is very much a lifesaver for me! If you ever need information about textiles/knit things drop me a line :) Keep up the good work and I can't wait to see your collection. X

  3. from someone starting at the verrrrrrry bottom, your blog is fantastic! i know blogging can slip by the wayside when your life is so busy but for all us peons, please keep it up! :]