3 Manufacturing Red Flags Every Fashion Designer Should Know

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All established fashion designers know the grueling work behind creating a fashion collection from start to finish. It can be even harder to find the right manufacturer to bring these designs to life.

The best fashion manufacturers constantly prove their know-how. Many of the highest quality manufacturers, particularly in Italy, use production techniques derived from age-old practices and focus on traditions of high-quality craftsmanship. Due to their commitment to excellence in craftsmanship, top makers have become world famous producing fashion products for top brands like Gucci and Versace. As a result, these coveted manufacturers selectively partner with fashion brands – almost every fashion brand wants to work with them, but these select manufacturers only partner with a select few.

So how do these renowned manufacturers choose their fashion partners? Some within the fashion industry assume that these legendary manufacturers only partner with big brands, but that is not the case. Sometimes one of the most important factors considered by these renowned manufacturers when choosing their fashion partners depends on the specific fashion products that a fashion brand plans to produce and sell. Given the in-depth knowledge of fashion production of these renowned manufacturers, they can immediately recognize which fashion projects are at risk of going wrong during the manufacturing process. With their decades of experience in fashion production, top manufacturers see some manufacturing red flags that most designers don’t.

Therefore, when designing your next fashion collection, designers should consider the following manufacturing red flags. By researching these manufacturing red flags and designing your collection accordingly, top fashion makers are more likely to consider accepting your designs for production.

1. Quick Mode

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According to top fashion makers, one of the most obvious manufacturing red flags is for fast fashion products. Beyond fast fashion’s undeniable damage to the environment and its propensity for worker abuse, fast fashion lacks any real creative direction. Therefore, the most reputable manufacturers actively avoid fast fashion because it lacks any opportunity to demonstrate their craftsmanship. For these renowned manufacturers, high-quality production means everything, and they won’t risk their manufacturing namesake for profit. Above all, they favor a clear and creative vision of luxury fashion. Indeed, designers need to have “clear ideas and focus,” says Luisa, an Italian maker from MakersValley. Having previously worked with designers like Diane Von Furstenburg, Luisa echoes the strong sentiment among high-quality manufacturers that clear, creative direction means producing fashion collections with real craftsmanship, unlike fast fashion, which only focus on fast production and quick turnover for profit.

2. Leather products (especially shoes)

Leather fashion products, especially leather shoes, often attract the attention of the world’s leading manufacturers. The problems with the production of leather shoes stem from the assumption that a more expensive leather shoe means easier maintenance over time. However, when it comes to defining “easier maintenance”, leather shoe manufacturers often disagree. Italian manufacturers produce shoes using the Blake stitch, where the upper is sewn directly to the sole, creating a more flexible type of shoe. The fashion industry associates the Blake stitch with Italian manufacturing and therefore considers its style to reflect a more European and lightweight look than other methods of shoe stitching. This particular type of sewing comes from the industrial revolution, when in 1856 the American Lyman Reed-Blake created a machine precisely to sew shoe soles to the vamp (or upper) of the shoe. Using a Langhorn sewing machine, the Blake stitch allows producers to sew all layers without using welts, stitching through the outsole, insole and bottom of the shoe upper. Italian shoemakers swear by the Blake stitch because sewing favors a light, elegant and refined style. “Shoemakers in Italy, artisans are very traditional,” says Gabi Levi, founder of leading shoe brand, Eve & Kane, “They’ve been making shoes the same way for generations.”

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While most fashion experts agree that “Made In Italy” conjures up premium leather shoes, other fashion producers claim that Blake’s Italian tailoring only allows for two to three repairs. Admittedly, while the other method of stitching, the Goodyear English stitch, adds more layers to produce a tougher, more water-resistant construction, it significantly loses flexibility with all its layers and heavy-duty construction. As a result, the Goodyear stitch produces a heaviness in wear and less of a fashionable, sleek look compared to the Blake stitch.

In addition to weighing the pros and cons of certain leather seams, manufacturers around the world are also concerned about how far they have to travel to secure high-quality leather. Italy, for example, is popular in the fashion industry, especially for its leather tanning methods, and is therefore one of the world’s leading leather producers. The country boasts of its vegetable tanning method, which uses natural vegetable tannins (organic substances found in the bark of trees, plants, and fruits) to make the leather. An Italian master tanner will adjust their blend to suit the desired finish, often drawing on age-old manufacturing traditions to create the finest Italian leather.

Italian leather producers want to ensure that the fashion brands they partner with can compete effectively in a highly competitive shoe and handbag market. A brand’s ability to successfully sell its leather goods and keep consumers’ attention is important to Italian manufacturers, as these sales have a direct impact on manufacturing planning. And given the highly specialized production methods in Italy, leather producers have to trust their brand partnerships because of the time it takes to produce Italian leather and its final fashion products.

3. Outerwear designs

The manufacture of outerwear certainly differs from the production of more conventional fashion garments. It’s cheaper to produce than just buying in bulk, saving nearly 50% or more off the actual price. In addition, outerwear is less complicated to sew as outerwear sewing patterns require less sewing than other conventional fashion garments.

However, the materials most commonly used to produce outerwear tend to cause production challenges for manufacturers. Nylon, for example, is almost exclusively used in outerwear because manufacturers can weave it more tightly than other materials. Nylon is also more water repellent than other fabrics. But nylon is also more slippery than other fabrics because it’s more water resistant and often unravels more than other fabrics. As a result, this creates production issues for manufacturers, and they must include another step in the production process to ensure proper quality control specifically for outerwear. This extra production step costs manufacturers more money and time, and they simply don’t see enough profit return with outerwear production to change their manufacturing strategies.

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Apart from the manufacturing problems caused by nylon, fashion brands often want to design outerwear with a shiny appearance because of its more stylish and fashionable look. However, to create that shine, manufacturers must give outerwear either a plastic coating or a special finishing process. This shiny finish, although fashionable, creates problems for the consumer because studies have shown that this added shine to the fabric can cause more accidents. Since the plastic coating or chemical finish creates a more slippery outerwear, it may cause the wearer to hit obstacles with greater force if they fall. Some ski resorts even prohibit people from wearing ski gear with such finishes due to the dangers of skiers falling while wearing such garments. Not to mention that to create that shiny finish on outerwear, manufacturers need to use certain chemicals and therefore may need to develop a more robust chemical safety plan to accommodate outerwear production.

Ultimately, fashion brands must design their collections with these manufacturing red flags in mind and thoroughly address manufacturers’ concerns with their initial technology packs and sourcing choices. By designing their collections while anticipating production issues, they can save additional production costs, avoid quality control issues, and set the stage for a supportive, built-to-last manufacturer-brand partnership.

This article has not been edited by Fibre2Fashion staff and is republished with permission from makersvalley.net.

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