After the design of a garment, the next piece we must consider is the fabric. Today we’ll dive into the process of sourcing activewear material. We start this development as early as possible, since the characteristics of the fabric will have a large impact on the fit and execution of the design. It’s also a lot of work!
How material is sourced depends on what stage of production you are at. At JLD we offer small MOQ’s starting at just 24 pieces. For an order this size, we need to work with materials already on the market. Versus a 5000 piece order where we have more options and customization available. All sourcing options have pluses and minuses. Let’s take a look at what those are in more detail.
SMALL BATCH ACTIVEWEAR PRODUCTION
We recommend all new brands start here. We’ll source from materials readily available on the open market. While the cost is higher, we can purchase just the amount of fabric needed to complete the order. Most fabric is still imported from overseas. With available material, our vendors have already imported the material and stocked it in a US warehouse. This makes it much easier to receive in a timely manner. The colors are more limited, as these same vendors are also deciding on the colors they will offer. Though we can usually find something, and if not we can always print the color!
LARGE BATCH PRODUCTION – PRINTED ACTIVEWEAR
Actual quantities for what’s considered large batch can vary depending on the vendor’s MOQ. Typically we see between 1000-3000 yard minimum. That’s 1000-3000 leggings!
Since we start with white fabric for all styles when printing with sublimation, it’s easier to hit the higher minimums. Fabric can be ordered for a year’s worth of production and sewn into smaller batches across multiple designs. Sounds great right!?! The trick here is timing and flexibility. If you’re custom developing a material, it can take a couple tries to get the fabric right. The cost of this development can add up as quickly as the timeline can drag on.
LARGE BATCH PRODUCTION – SOLID COLOR MATERIAL
Similar to the above, now we’re adding in dye lots. These generally vary by weight and can start at around 500-1000 yards. Dye Lot = material dyed in one vat. The vendor would like to fill the vat to maximize their profitability. Some will do smaller quantities with a surcharge. Additionally there will still be minimum order size for the base cloth. Example: Order 2000 yards in 4 colors. Higher minimums, but you can get the specific color wanted. Will work with US vendors when we can, but there are some limitations when sourcing activewear material. Fabrics that needed to be imported have the additional cost freight and customs.
Keep in mind when deciding which path to take, the more you buy the lower the material costs become. This is true of the small batch as well as the large. Alternatively, if you buy fabric you’re not going to use in the near future it’s creating financial and physical waste.
How would we get started? With a JLD-Swatch packet! We stock 7+ materials sourced specifically for activewear. When you receive the packet, keep in mind each swatch is a different base cloth and shown printed for your quality reference. Fabrics are stocked at JLD-Studios in white for printing purposes. All these materials can also be purchased in black. A handful even have a full color range available. Order your swatch packet today to get started sourcing the right activewear material for your brand.