3.5 Self-production vs. Manufacturing

After we’ve gathered our supplies, production comes next. The options for production under private labels is to either do it yourself or hire a manufacturer. There are pros and cons to both but you should choose what is most suitable for the scale of your company and how much budget you’ve set aside. Let’s evaluate both options:   

  • Self-production
  • Manufacturer





Should you decide to handle production yourself, prepare all the materials you need. Also, identify if you require certain tools or have the right equipment to create your products, it doesn’t have to be the latest or the most expensive but it should be adequate for the scale of your production.


We suggest creating a range plan that has all the details of your products such as the flat designs, description, colour, fabric and measurements/sizing to give you an overall summary of what you need to create. The tech pack will serve as a manual of how to create your products.


The key thing here is to create a production schedule and stick to it. Make sure you allocate the right amount of time for printing/dying fabrics, cutting, sewing, trims or embroidery, washing and finishing.


The order of a garment production process:



To know how much you should produce, you have to do a market survey to understand how much demand there is in your chosen market and consider what your competitors are doing. This is also dependant on your main distribution channel – are you selling on your own website or on social media? Study how much products are listed on your competitor’s channels and look at the width and depth of their assortment to decide yours. The key thing here is, do not overproduce!


Here’s a rough estimate on how many units you should produce for an online business:




To keep your business sustainable, 5-10 SKUs would be feasible. If you do you hire a bigger team, bring it up a notch.


3 key sizes and 2 colours are more than enough to start.



If you’re opting to sell on your own e-commerce site or social media, use 20 pieces as your benchmark. While there’s no Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) since you’ll be creating everything from scratch, you still need to take account of other costs like labour, fabric and equipment.


The same applies to marketplaces, but the number should be even lower since you won’t be able to have much control in both the marketing and payment process aspect.


Other questions to consider:


Do you want to launch by season, festivities or collections?


Is there a particular month where you want to produce more?


Once you start selling, you’ll be able to see what you did right and what can be improved. From there, restructure.




For those looking to produce large quantities, hiring a manufacturer is perhaps the better option for you. They will handle all the labour and scheduling, they would also be better equipped to produce a big order quickly – some will even handle the fabric sourcing. Where to manufacture depends on the quantity you are looking to produce, as well as the intricacies of your designs.


To look for factories, try attending trade shows or government trade agencies that can assist with producing your products locally. The biggest tip is to try and find a manufacturer nearest to you. Communication can be challenging when they are miles and miles away.


If you decide to source internationally, take account of the different taxes and duties that may incur. Also, ensure you negotiate a shipping agreement between you and your manufacturer.


Some common agreements:


“Free On Board” (FOB) agreement

When the manufacturer will pay for all the cost up to the port of shipment and you will bear the cost of transportation, insurance and unloading at the port of unloading.


Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF)

The manufacturer will provide minimum insurance for the goods in transit, pay for freight costs and is responsible for all costs of goods in transit until it’s delivered to you.