I get hit up all the time from start-up entrepreneurs wondering where they might be able to source apparel or find fashion designers.
Thankfully, over the years I’ve been contacted by so many clothing manufacturing and textile companies, I’ve been able to learn a quite deal about this industry.
Up until recently, Alibaba was the defacto standard online in apparel sourcing anywhere in the world.
The problem with Alibaba is that it’s a bit of rabbit hole. It really takes a lot of time and effort to search through the site to find a reputable apparel manufacturer (or any supplier), and when you finally think that you’ve found one, you’re still not 100% certain they’ll be a good partner for you.
Will they respond to your inquiry? Are they trustworthy? Will they understand what you need?
Will there be a language barrier? How long will it take to get samples or the final product?
How do you get the items you want without risking money? Will they deliver at all?
Granted, there are some tools in place on that site that makes some of those apparel sourcing issues above less risky, but it’s still a challenge.
The other path that many start-up brands take is to visit industry trade shows, the most notable being Magic (link). But there are others like Apparel Sourcing (link) as well as the ability to find clothing manufacturers at textile shows too.
This is a great option if you have the time and money to travel to where those conferences are being held. Even if you do, those shows only happen a few times a year, so what if you don’t want to wait for one of those shows?
Sourcing Apparel Online
I’ve long wondered where crowdfunding start-up apparel brands find their supply partners. If not from the sources listed above, then where?
Just recently I learned about two newer apparel sourcing platforms from two different folks.
Today I’ll focus on WrapSew, primarily because that platform provides the ability to source across the world.
Maker’s Row focuses on American Manufacturing, which is a great thing in and of itself. But sometimes start-ups need to look across the pond for the most fitting apparel manufacturer, so in those cases WrapSew would be a better option.
WrapSew Apparel Sourcing
Popping around the site, a few things stand out to me as being pretty interesting:
- They make it really easy to understand. You’re either a Customer (Brand) or Maker (Supplier)
- There are sections for both Customers and Makers that make it simple to browse for what you’re looking for
- They have a Marketplace to browse through if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for
- The offer a very interesting Trust Guarantee
WrapSew Trust Guarantee
The WrapSew Apparel Sourcing Trust Guarantee is broken up into several parts:
They carry out full, professional background checks on all of their members. This must be a great deal of work, but the good thing here is that a Brand wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the supplier (Maker) is a legitimate business.
Interviews are carried out with every Maker applicant. They also say that they get to know every Maker to ensure their platform only hosts the best of the best suppliers.
They use something referred to as Proposals, as a legal binding contract between a Customer and a Maker. If a Maker does not deliver on the agreement, WrapSew will help mediate between the parties to ensure both are treated fairly.
WrapSew will actually inspect the goods provided by the Makers to ensure everything meets their high standards. They also strive to leave both Customers and Makers 100% satisfied in every transaction.
The system leverages a 3rd party fraud detection service and has developed a sophisticated anti-fraud technology to help both parties feel safe and secure.
Trust & Safety
The folks at WrapSew make themselves available 24/7 in the case any issues arise, and work with both parties to make it right.
WrapSew: How Apparel Sourcing Works
- Customers post a project
- Makers are matched to projects and notified of projects
- If a Maker is interested in working on the project, they connect with the Customer through the system’s messaging system
- Customer filters through Makers and picks one to work with
- Maker submits a Proposal to the Customer
- Customer reviews, and if ok, approves Proposal and pays a deposit. The work is now started
- Once complete, the Maker will mark the project as complete
- The Customer pays the balance of the Proposal
- Maker ships the goods with insured shipping
- Customer receives goods (or service) and is happy
More Than Just Apparel Sourcing
The other thing that’s pretty interesting about the WrapSew platform is that it’s not only a place where Brands can source apparel manufacturing partners, but it also allows Customers to find Fashion Designers, Fashion Illustrators, Pattern Makers, and more.
On the site, Brands can also source:
- Cut, Make and Trim Manufacturers
- Makers and Manufacturers Offering their own Collection
- Designers, Pattern Makers & Pattern Cutting Contractors
- Embroidery & Print Contractors
- Textile & Fabric Producers & Wholesalers
- Trimming Producers & Wholesalers
- Package & Label Makers
- Business Service Makers
Overall, it looks like WrapSew streamlines the apparel sourcing process and makes it pretty easy for Brands & Makers to connect and work together.
Any Other Apparel Sourcing Resources?
If you know of any sites like WrapSew or Maker’s Row, or any other apparel sourcing resources, be sure to tell me about it in the comments section below