How to Choose a Swimsuit Manufacturer: An Insider’s Guide
Nowhere on the Internet is anyone writing about how to choose a swimwear manufacturer. Though the number of manufacturing companies increases, this process remains as mysterious as when I started my own bathing suit line, eighteen years ago. Though I’ve previously written about how to start your own swimwear company, there’s more to say about the manufacturing process. Over the years, I’ve seen brands skimp on manufacturing and lose tons of money they simply wouldn’t have if they’d had access to good advice. So based on my experience, here’s what to look for in a swimwear manufacturing company.
Nothing speaks louder and more accurately than previous client experiences. Manufacturers might have NDA’s with most brands but there should always be at least one or two clients to give a referral. They’re a sign of a good working relationship between your prospective manufacturer and their clients. Just to make sure, ask them make a few samples to check quality and delivery time.
Full package provider
You don’t want a company that just does cut and sew. Yes, it’s cheaper, but trust me, it will cost you precious time and money. Here’s why: when full package manufacturers deal directly with their own vendors, they get volume discounts on all materials. This should translate into better pricing for you. Additionally, when you give the tedious job of managing purchase orders and doing quality control on items you may not know how to test to a professional, you can focus on what you do best: marketing, sales and otherwise growing your brand.
If you’re a U.S. designer who wants to work with a U.S. company with foreign manufacturing facilities, make sure they are in or near your time zone (max 3-4 hours). There’s nothing worse than finding something wrong with your samples and needing to wait until 3am to reach your manufacturer during their work hours. Definitely test their customer service before you need it. It’s a good sign if can you easily reach an English-speaking representative by dialing a U.S. number. If at all possible, visit their facility,.
This may vary for you, but I wouldn’t work with anyone with under 15 years of manufacturing and swimwear business experience. Making sure they know both your and their sides of the business will make it much likelier that they’ll understand where you’re coming from.
This isn’t quite something to look for in a manufacturer but to manage in yourself. The biggest secret I share with first-time designers is that this process has zero shortcuts. That’s why finished, full-package swimwear costs more than you’d expect. I know it sounds obvious and maybe even a bit self-serving from the CEO of a swimwear brand and manufacturing company, but you cannot rush any of this. I’ve been where you are: hungry, excited, impatient to get the fashion show on the road. But over time, as my business included manufacturing, I learned about all the costs that go into operation, cutting, reporting, quality control, packaging, shipping, and so much more. Turns out there is a lot more to making and delivering a final product than just fabric, threads and elastics. Quality and impatience will cost you. Only one is worth it.
Of course, I could go on about manufacturing bathing suits but that might test your patience If you have questions or inquiries, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to help in any step of your process. I know making swimwear can feel like a huge undertaking, but with good help along the way, it doesn’t have to.