Startup fashion designers get excited at the prospect of touching and feeling hundreds of fabrics as they design their first collection. These new fashion designers face a wide array of fabric suppliers and materials. The seemingly limitless options make the fabric selection process very complicated. Designers can choose from online fabric stores, wholesale fabric stores, and their nearby fabric warehouse. Each of these fabric suppliers offers different costs, fabrics, prints, colors, and source mills. So a smart idea is for a designer to research the latest fabric trends and reliable suppliers before entering a fabric store. This will save a design lots of time and money.
Obviously a designer can purchase from an online fabric store by looking at pictures and prices, but this is a risky approach for choosing unfamiliar fabric and suppliers. New designers should spend time in real-world fabric stores where they can touch the fabrics and see the true colors and patterns on hundreds of fabrics. Another benefit is fabric stores inspire new designers by exposing them to new fabric ideas, ones they would not specifically search for at an online fabric store. Good fabric store managers will tell designers about the source of the fabric and share ideas on similar fabrics. The overall experience is more enlightening and satisfying than looking at pictures on a fabric store website.
Part of the startup costs for new fashion designers working on their sales samples is they will pay retail prices because their order quantities are too low for wholesale fabric stores. But they can learn from this process the wholesale prices of the fabrics they find interesting in order to estimate the costs of larger production runs to fulfill orders. According to freelance fashion designer Miami Fashion Network a good fabric store manager will share the wholesale costs with the new designer, and many fabric stores will credit your sample fabric costs to future, larger orders for production. These stores want to be the preferred fabric supplier for successful designers!
Fabric selection and sourcing for new designers is complicated and risky. Designers may overpay for a fabric or choose a fabric that does not print well or drape correctly. These are just a few reasons it’s smart for a new fashion designer to touch fabric in a real store as part of launching their first line.