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Custom Clothing Manufacturers for Startups Guide

Colorful fabric swatches with measuring tape for sewing.

Custom Clothing Manufacturers for Startups Guide - Contents

Colorful fabric swatches with measuring tape for sewing.
custom clothing manufacturers for startups guide

For fashion startups and independent designers, finding the right clothing manufacturer is crucial to the success of their business. In this guide, we will explore the top custom clothing manufacturers that cater specifically to startups. These manufacturers offer customizability, experience, and low order minimums, making them ideal for small-scale fashion ventures. Whether you’re looking to produce luxury items or screen-printed hoodies, this guide will help you find the perfect manufacturer for your bespoke apparel production needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Custom clothing manufacturers play a vital role in the success of startup fashion brands.
  • Startups should consider factors such as experience, customizability, and order minimums when choosing a clothing manufacturer.
  • The right manufacturer can assist with design, development, and fulfillment.
  • Top clothing manufacturers for startups include Appareify, Ninghow Apparel, Affix Apparel, Hawthorn, Printful, Oh Two Clothing, Apparel Production, Portland Garment Factory, Euphoric Colors, and Good Clothing Company.
  • Assessing a manufacturer’s capabilities and understanding minimum order quantities are important decision factors.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Clothing Manufacturer

When launching your startup fashion brand, selecting the right clothing manufacturer is a critical decision. Several factors should be taken into consideration to ensure a successful partnership. These factors include:

  1. Experience: Look for a clothing manufacturer with a proven track record in producing garments similar to your vision. Their expertise will play a crucial role in delivering high-quality apparel that meets your design specifications.
  2. Customizability: Consider the level of customization options offered by the manufacturer. This includes the ability to personalize garments with unique features, such as custom tags or embroidery. Being able to add your brand’s identity to the clothing enhances your brand’s recognition.
  3. Order Minimums: Take into account the manufacturer’s minimum order quantities (MOQs). Ensure their MOQs align with your production needs and budget. Having flexibility in order quantities allows you to manage inventory effectively and scale your business gradually.
  4. Design and Development Assistance: Opt for a manufacturer that can provide design and development support. Their expertise can help translate your ideas into precise specifications, ensuring the production process runs smoothly.
  5. Fulfillment Services: Consider whether the clothing manufacturer offers fulfillment services, including packaging and shipping. Utilizing these services can streamline your operations and provide a seamless customer experience.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can make an informed decision when choosing a clothing manufacturer for your startup. Now, let’s delve into the top clothing manufacturers that cater to startups in the next section.


“Choosing the right clothing manufacturer is like finding the perfect fit for your brand. Consider their experience, customizability, order minimums, and the services they offer. The right manufacturer can bring your creative vision to life and help your startup thrive.”

– Fashion Entrepreneur

ManufacturerExperienceCustomizabilityOrder MinimumsFulfillment Services
Appareify10+ yearsExtensive optionsLow MOQsYes
Affix Apparel5+ yearsCustom tags & embroideryFlexibleYes
Hawthorn20+ yearsFull customizationNo MOQsYes
Printful8+ yearsExtensive optionsNo MOQsYes
Oh Two Clothing12+ yearsCustom tags & embroideryFlexibleYes
Ninghow Apparel30+ yearsCustom apparel & embroideryFlexibleYes

Top Clothing Manufacturers for Startups

When it comes to starting a fashion brand, finding the right clothing manufacturer is key to ensuring high-quality production and bringing your creative vision to life. Luckily, there are numerous clothing manufacturers that specialize in working with startups. These manufacturers offer a wide range of services, including OEM, product development, private labeling, cut and sew, and more, making them ideal partners for your custom apparel production needs.

Here are some of the top clothing manufacturers for startups:

  1. Appareify: With a focus on ethical and sustainable practices, Appareify offers comprehensive manufacturing solutions tailored to startups, from design to production.
  2. Affix Apparel: Affix Apparel combines craftsmanship and innovation to deliver high-quality garments customized to meet the unique needs of startup fashion brands.
  3. Hawthorn: Hawthorn specializes in small batch production, empowering startups to create personalized collections with low order minimums and fast turnaround times.
  4. Printful: Printful provides print-on-demand services, allowing startups to create and sell custom apparel without the need for inventory or upfront costs.
  5. Oh Two Clothing: With a focus on eco-friendly practices, Oh Two Clothing offers custom apparel production using sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing processes.
  6. Apparel Production: Apparel Production offers comprehensive manufacturing services for startups, including design development, sourcing, and production management.
  7. Portland Garment Factory: Specializing in small-scale production, Portland Garment Factory offers customizable manufacturing services with an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship.
  8. Euphoric Colors: Euphoric Colors offers expertise in screen printing, embroidery, and custom apparel manufacturing, helping startups create unique and eye-catching garments.
  9. Good Clothing Company: With a commitment to sustainability and ethical production, Good Clothing Company offers full-service manufacturing for startup fashion brands.
  10. Ninghow Apparel: Ninghow Apparel is a versatile and ethical clothing manufacturer from China that provides high-quality, tailored apparel solutions to businesses worldwide with a commitment to sustainability and superior craftsmanship.

These clothing manufacturers have established a strong reputation in the industry and have a proven track record of delivering exceptional products and services to startups. Whether you’re looking for on-demand printing, small-batch production, or sustainable manufacturing, these manufacturers can assist you in every step of the production process.

Benefits of partnering with top clothing manufacturers:

  • Expertise in startup fashion brands
  • Customizable manufacturing solutions
  • Low order minimums
  • Fast turnaround times
  • Ethical and sustainable production practices
  • Wide range of services, including OEM, product development, and private labeling

By choosing one of these top clothing manufacturers, you can ensure that your startup fashion brand receives top-notch production support and delivers high-quality, custom apparel to your customers.

Partnering with a reputable clothing manufacturer is a crucial step for startups looking to create a strong brand presence and deliver exceptional products to their customers. These manufacturers offer the expertise, flexibility, and attention to detail that startups need to bring their creative vision to life. With their assistance, you can navigate the complexities of custom apparel production and establish your brand in the ever-evolving fashion industry.

ManufacturerSpecializationKey Features
AppareifyEthical and sustainable practicesComprehensive manufacturing solutions
Affix ApparelCraftsmanship and innovationCustomized high-quality garments
HawthornSmall batch productionLow order minimums and fast turnaround times
PrintfulPrint-on-demand servicesNo inventory or upfront costs
Oh Two ClothingEco-friendly practicesSustainable materials and ethical manufacturing
Apparel ProductionComprehensive manufacturing servicesDesign development, sourcing, and production management
Portland Garment FactorySmall-scale productionCustomizable manufacturing with an emphasis on quality
Euphoric ColorsScreen printing, embroidery, and custom apparelEye-catching and unique garments
Good Clothing CompanySustainability and ethical productionFull-service manufacturing
Ninghow ApparelSustainability and ethical productionFull-service manufacturing

Assessing Manufacturer Capabilities

Before partnering with a clothing manufacturer, it’s crucial to assess their capabilities to ensure a successful collaboration. Evaluating their experience, equipment, technology, and production capabilities is essential in determining their suitability for your clothing production needs. Additionally, some manufacturers offer additional services that can greatly benefit your startup, such as design assistance, tech pack creation, and private labeling.

By thoroughly understanding the capabilities of each manufacturer, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your startup’s requirements and ensures high-quality clothing production.

Key Considerations in Assessing Manufacturer Capabilities

  1. Experience: Evaluate the manufacturer’s track record and expertise in producing the type of clothing you intend to create. Look for manufacturers with relevant experience in your niche, as they will better understand your specific design and quality requirements.
  2. Equipment and Technology: Assess the manufacturer’s machinery, equipment, and technology to ensure they have the necessary tools to produce your garments efficiently and with precision. Up-to-date technology can also contribute to improved quality and faster turnaround times.
  3. Production Capacity: Determine the manufacturer’s production capabilities, such as their output capacity and ability to handle bulk orders. This is especially important if you plan to scale your business in the future.
  4. Additional Services: Consider whether the manufacturer offers valuable services beyond production, such as design assistance, tech pack creation, and private labeling. These additional services can save you time, enhance the product development process, and help create a cohesive brand identity.

By carefully assessing these factors, you can select a clothing manufacturer that not only meets your production needs but also provides valuable support in design and development.

Remember, partnering with the right manufacturer is instrumental in ensuring the success of your clothing startup and delivering high-quality garments to your customers.

“Choosing the right manufacturer is like finding the perfect business partner. Assessing their capabilities and aligning them with your startup’s needs can set the stage for a fruitful collaboration.”

Assessment CriteriaManufacturer AManufacturer BManufacturer C
Experience10+ years in the industry5+ years in the industry15+ years in the industry
Equipment and TechnologyState-of-the-art machineryStandard equipmentAdvanced technology
Production Capacity1000 units per week500 units per week2000 units per week
Additional ServicesTech pack creationPrivate labelingDesign assistance

Understanding Minimum Order Quantities

When starting a clothing brand, one of the crucial factors to consider is the minimum order quantities (MOQs) set by clothing manufacturers. MOQ refers to the minimum number of units you need to order per style or design. These quantities can vary among manufacturers, and understanding them is essential to effectively budgeting and managing your inventory.

Your MOQs directly impact the cost per unit, as manufacturers often offer discounts for larger orders. On the other hand, ordering fewer units can help you test the market and reduce the risk of having excess inventory. It’s crucial to find the right balance that aligns with your startup’s production needs and financial capabilities.

When selecting a clothing manufacturer for your startup, it’s important to inquire about their MOQ policy. Look for manufacturers that offer MOQs that match your production requirements. Keep in mind that some manufacturers are more flexible and willing to negotiate MOQs based on the specific circumstances of your startup.

By understanding and working within the confines of MOQs, you can ensure the smooth production of your desired garments without compromising quality or facing unnecessary costs. Here’s an example of how MOQs can impact your budget:

QuantityUnit CostTotal Cost
100 units$10$1,000
500 units$8$4,000
1,000 units$7$7,000

As shown in the example above, ordering a larger quantity results in a lower unit cost, ultimately reducing your production expenses. However, it’s important to carefully assess the demand for your products and avoid ordering excessive quantities that may lead to excessive inventory and financial strain.

By finding a clothing manufacturer with an MOQ policy that suits your startup’s needs and effectively managing your production quantities, you can successfully navigate the manufacturing process and bring your vision to life.

Next, we will explore the importance of manufacturing location and how it can impact your startup clothing brand.

Considering Manufacturing Location

When choosing a clothing manufacturer, one important factor to consider is the manufacturing location. Your decision will depend on various factors, including your business objectives, customer expectations, and budget. Let’s explore the benefits and considerations of domestic and overseas manufacturers.

Domestic Manufacturers

Domestic manufacturers, located within your country, offer several advantages for your startup clothing brand. Firstly, you can expect higher quality products as domestic manufacturers adhere to local manufacturing standards and regulations. This ensures that your garments meet the desired quality and durability.

Secondly, working with a domestic manufacturer can result in faster shipping times. With a shorter distance to cover, your products can reach your customers more quickly, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Moreover, communication with domestic manufacturers tends to be easier due to language and time zone compatibility. You can conveniently discuss your requirements, ask questions, and make modifications as needed, ensuring a smooth production process.

Overseas Manufacturers

On the other hand, overseas manufacturers, located outside of your home country, offer different advantages for startup fashion brands. One significant advantage is the potential for lower prices. Overseas manufacturers often have lower labor and production costs, allowing you to reduce your manufacturing expenses and increase profit margins.

In addition, overseas manufacturers typically have larger production capacities, enabling you to handle higher order volumes. This can be particularly beneficial if you foresee scaling your business or running larger promotional campaigns.

However, it’s important to note that working with overseas manufacturers may involve some challenges. Language barriers, cultural differences, and longer shipping times are factors that need to be considered and managed effectively. Additionally, conducting thorough due diligence and maintaining clear communication with your overseas manufacturer is crucial to ensure alignment with your brand’s standards and specifications.

Domestic ManufacturersOverseas Manufacturers
  • Higher quality products
  • Faster shipping times
  • Better communication
  • Potentially lower prices
  • Larger production capacities
  • Possibility for cost savings
  • Language barriers
  • Cultural differences
  • Longer shipping times

Ultimately, the decision between domestic and overseas manufacturers will depend on your unique business needs and goals. It’s important to carefully consider the advantages and considerations of each option to ensure that your chosen manufacturer aligns with your brand’s objectives and delivers the desired quality and affordability.

Cultivating Your Clothing Line with the Right Partner

Three women working in a fashion design studio.
custom clothing manufacturers for startups guide b

Cultivating a successful clothing line requires partnering with the right manufacturer. This partnership should provide design services, manufacturing process knowledge, and private labeling and customization options. By working with the right partner, you can create a strong foundation for your clothing line and ensure that your garments are produced to your exact specifications. Building a long-term relationship with a trusted manufacturer can also help your brand grow and expand.

When choosing a clothing manufacturer for your clothing line, it’s important to consider their expertise in design and branding. Look for manufacturers that have a strong understanding of current fashion trends and can provide creative input to enhance your designs. With their knowledge and experience, they can help you bring your vision to life and create garments that truly represent your brand.

Another crucial aspect of a successful clothing line partnership is the manufacturer’s knowledge of the manufacturing process. They should have a deep understanding of garment construction, fabric selection, and quality control. By working with a manufacturer that has a keen eye for craftsmanship and attention to detail, you can ensure that your garments meet the highest standards of quality and durability.

Private labeling and customization services are also essential for a successful clothing line partnership. Your manufacturer should offer options for adding your brand’s logo, labels, and other branding elements to your garments. This allows you to establish a distinct brand identity and differentiate yourself in the market. Additionally, customization services such as embroidery, screen printing, and custom tags can enhance the uniqueness of your products.

Benefits of Partnering with the Right Manufacturer:

  • Access to design services and expertise
  • Knowledgeable guidance throughout the manufacturing process
  • Private labeling and customization options
  • High-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail
  • Establishment of a strong brand identity
  • Potential for long-term growth and expansion

A successful clothing line partnership is built on mutual trust, open communication, and shared goals. By finding a manufacturer that aligns with your creative vision and understands the needs of your brand, you can cultivate a strong relationship that will propel your clothing line to success.

Manufacturer Collaboration Checklist
1. Design Services
2. Manufacturing Process Knowledge
3. Private Labeling and Customization Options
4. Quality Craftsmanship
5. Attention to Detail
6. Brand Identity Enhancement
7. Long-Term Growth Potential

The Role of Tech Packs in Apparel Manufacturing

Tech packs are essential tools in the apparel manufacturing process. These comprehensive documents contain a wealth of information, ensuring that the manufacturer has all the necessary details to bring your design to life. By providing detailed tech packs, you can minimize errors and miscommunications, resulting in high-quality garments that meet your exact design specifications.

So, what exactly are tech packs? Think of them as the blueprint for your garment. They include:

  • Design sketches: Detailed drawings that showcase the visual elements of your design, including colors, patterns, and style details.
  • Measurements: Accurate measurements for each component of the garment, ensuring proper fit and proportion.
  • Materials: Specifications for the fabrics, trims, buttons, zippers, and other materials that will be used in the production process.
  • Construction details: Step-by-step instructions on how the garment should be assembled, including seam allowances, stitching techniques, and other construction methods.
  • Additional specifications: Any other relevant information, such as labeling requirements, packaging instructions, or special finishing techniques.

By providing all of these design specifications in a clear and organized manner, tech packs ensure that the manufacturer understands your vision and can translate it accurately into a physical garment.

Tech packs are like a language that bridges the gap between your creative ideas and the production process. They provide a common understanding between you and the manufacturer, helping to minimize errors and ensure that the final product matches your design specifications.

Creating detailed tech packs requires attention to detail and a deep understanding of the manufacturing process. While it may seem daunting, many manufacturers can assist you in developing tech packs or even provide templates to guide you. Additionally, there are software applications available that can help streamline the tech pack creation process.

Visual representation of a tech pack.

When working with a manufacturer, be sure to communicate your expectations clearly and provide comprehensive tech packs. This will help you maintain control over the production process and ensure that the final garments meet your standards.

To summarize, tech packs play a vital role in apparel manufacturing by providing the detailed design specifications needed to produce high-quality garments. By investing time and effort into creating thorough tech packs, you can minimize errors, streamline communication with the manufacturer, and create garments that accurately reflect your design vision.

Navigating the Manufacturing Process

Workers in industrial facility assembling blue fabric products.
custom clothing manufacturers for startups guide c

Understanding the manufacturing process is essential for successful apparel production. It involves various steps that require careful coordination and communication with the manufacturer. By navigating this process effectively, you can ensure that your garments are produced with the highest quality and delivered to your customers on time.

  1. Design Ideation: Collaborate with your manufacturer to bring your design ideas to life. Provide detailed specifications and sketches to convey your vision.
  2. Sourcing Materials: Work closely with your manufacturer to source the right materials for your garments. This includes selecting fabrics, trims, and accessories that align with your design and quality standards.
  3. Creating Samples: Prior to bulk production, it’s crucial to create samples to ensure that the design, fit, and construction meet your expectations. Evaluate and refine the samples for optimal results.
  4. Bulk Production: Once the samples are approved, the manufacturing process moves into bulk production. Monitor the production timeline and communicate with the manufacturer regularly to stay updated on progress.
  5. Quality Control: Implement rigorous quality control measures throughout the production process. Conduct inspections to ensure that each garment meets your specified standards for fit, finish, and durability.
  6. Shipping: Coordinate with the manufacturer to arrange the shipping of your finished garments to their destination. Ensure proper packaging and labeling to prevent any damage during transit.

By effectively navigating the manufacturing process, you can ensure a smooth and efficient production journey. This will result in garments that reflect your design vision and meet the high-quality standards expected by your customers.

Private Labeling and Customization Services

Private labeling and customization services play a crucial role in helping startup clothing brands stand out in the competitive market. These services provide the opportunity to add your brand’s logo and other branding elements to the garments, creating a unique brand identity that resonates with your target audience.

By utilizing private labeling and customization services, you can personalize your products and differentiate your brand from competitors. Some manufacturers offer a range of customization options, including embroidery, screen printing, and custom tags, allowing you to add a personal touch to your garments.

With private labeling, your brand’s logo and identity are prominently showcased on the clothing, creating brand recognition and loyalty among your customers. This branding strategy helps to build a strong connection between your brand and your customers, increasing the likelihood of repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.

Furthermore, customization services allow you to cater to the unique preferences and tastes of your target market. By offering personalized options, such as customized sizing, colors, or prints, you can provide a tailored experience that meets the individual needs of your customers.

Embracing private labeling and customization services not only enhances your brand’s identity but also allows you to create a memorable and personalized customer experience. This added value can set your startup clothing brand apart from competitors and contribute to long-term success and customer loyalty.


In conclusion, choosing the right custom clothing manufacturer is crucial for the success of startup fashion brands. By considering various factors such as the manufacturer’s capabilities, minimum order quantities, manufacturing location, and cultivating a strong partnership, startups can ensure that their apparel production meets their design specifications.

The use of tech packs, which provide detailed design specifications, along with effective navigation of the manufacturing process, helps minimize errors and miscommunications during production. This ensures high-quality garments that are delivered to customers on time. Additionally, utilizing private labeling and customization services adds a unique brand identity, helping startup fashion brands differentiate themselves in the market and establish a strong connection with their customers.

With the right custom clothing manufacturer, startup fashion brands can confidently produce their bespoke apparel, meet the demands of their target audience, and achieve their business goals. By prioritizing quality, collaboration, and attentive design, startup fashion brands can establish a solid foundation for long-term success in the competitive fashion industry.


How important is it to choose the right clothing manufacturer for a startup?

Choosing the right clothing manufacturer is crucial for the success of a startup in the fashion industry. It directly impacts the quality, customizability, and cost-effectiveness of the apparel production.

What factors should I consider when choosing a clothing manufacturer for my startup?

When choosing a clothing manufacturer, factors such as experience, customizability, order minimums, and their ability to assist with design, development, and fulfillment should be considered.

Who are some of the top clothing manufacturers for startups?

Some top clothing manufacturers for startups include Appareify, Affix Apparel, Hawthorn, Printful, Oh Two Clothing, Apparel Production, Portland Garment Factory, Euphoric Colors, and Good Clothing Company.

How can I assess the capabilities of a clothing manufacturer?

The capabilities of a clothing manufacturer can be assessed by evaluating their experience, equipment, technology, and production capabilities. Some manufacturers may also offer additional services such as design assistance and private labeling.

Why are minimum order quantities important when choosing a clothing manufacturer for a startup?

Minimum order quantities (MOQs) can greatly impact a startup’s budget and inventory management. It is important to choose a manufacturer with an MOQ policy that matches the startup’s needs to avoid excessive costs or compromised quality.

How do I decide on the manufacturing location for my clothing production?

The manufacturing location choice depends on various factors like quality, shipping times, communication, prices, and production capacities. Domestic manufacturers offer advantages such as higher quality and faster shipping times, while overseas manufacturers often provide lower prices and larger production capacities.

How can I cultivate a successful clothing line with the right manufacturer?

Cultivating a successful clothing line involves partnering with the right manufacturer who provides design services, manufacturing process knowledge, and private labeling and customization options to create a strong foundation for the brand.

What role do tech packs play in the apparel manufacturing process?

Tech packs are comprehensive documents that contain design sketches, measurements, materials, construction details, and other specifications needed for garment production. They ensure that the manufacturer has all the necessary information to create the garment according to the designer’s vision.

What does navigating the manufacturing process entail?

Navigating the manufacturing process involves effectively coordinating and communicating with the manufacturer at each step, including design ideation, sourcing materials, creating samples, bulk production, quality control, and shipping to ensure high-quality garments are produced and delivered on time.

How do private labeling and customization services benefit startup clothing brands?

Private labeling and customization services allow startup clothing brands to add their own branding elements to the garments, creating a unique brand identity and differentiation in the market. Services like embroidery, screen printing, and custom tags help personalize the products.

How can custom clothing manufacturers help startup fashion brands achieve their business goals?

Custom clothing manufacturers help startup fashion brands by providing high-quality apparel production that meets their design specifications, building a strong partnership, and helping them establish themselves in the market.


Picture of Chris


Founder / CEO of Ninghow Apparel

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Picture of Chris


Ninghow Apparel
Founder / CEO

Ninghow Apparel, a leading clothing manufacturer in China, focuses on making top quality clothes.
Contact us to find out how we can help you with your clothing production needs. Our team is skilled and ready to talk about your project, give you quotes, and show you samples quickly.

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