Timing in the Fashion Industry: Managing Production Timelines

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Today, let’s talk about timing in the fashion industry. It’s that time of year when many people start dreaming of summer and want to design a summer range for their labels. However, often they realize it’s too late to move their production back from offshore and have it ready for the season. So, today, I want to discuss the importance of timing, the differences between offshore and local production timelines, and what you can do to meet your desired deadlines.


The Role of the Designer

When it comes to managing timelines in fashion, the biggest factor is you, the designer. Your role goes beyond just designing; you also need to handle production management. The development process and reaching the desired timeline rely heavily on your sense of urgency and understanding of the process. This is something we often notice as a key difference between established designers and those who are new or emerging.


Offshore vs. Local Timelines

In terms of timelines, there isn’t a significant difference between offshore and local production. However, there are some factors to consider when going offshore. The crucial difference is that when you choose offshore production, you commit to a production run with a specific end date. This means all decisions and actions are driven towards meeting that deadline.


Limited Choices and Quick Decisions

One advantage of offshore production is that when you commit to a deadline, you have limited choices. For instance, you may receive one or two fabric swatches to choose between. Unlike local production, you don’t have the luxury of sourcing fabrics and sampling them. The process is streamlined to ensure quicker decision-making. Furthermore, every sample is expected to be approved without significant tweaking or changes, as they can impact the timeline.

The Hot Potato Effect

Managing offshore production can sometimes feel like playing a game of hot potato. The responsibility to meet the timeline is initially in your hands. You receive the samples, and it’s up to you to ensure timely approvals and responses. Once you send your questions or alterations back, the pressure shifts to the offshore production team. Both parties try to avoid being the ones to delay the timeline.


Managing Local Production

When it comes to local production, the development process is split into different stages. This means you have more control over the timeline but also more responsibility. At each stage, there may be delays due to waiting for information, payment, or fabrics. Understanding the micro tasks involved between each deadline is crucial.


The Development Process

In our business, we split the local development process into several stages:

  1. Design Brief Document: This is where you provide your ideas and requirements for your collection.


  1. Pattern and First Sample: The patterns are created, and the first sample is made based on your design.


  1. Alteration and Second Sample: This stage involves making alterations to the first sample based on your feedback.


  1. Grading and Production Preparation: Grading is the process of creating different sizes for your garment, and production preparations ensure everything is ready for manufacturing.


  1. Production: This is where the garments are produced based on the approved samples and patterns.


Timeframes and Expectations

While it’s possible to complete the full development process in three months, the average timeframe in our business is around six months. Of course, this can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the collection and external factors that may impact the timeline. For first-time ranges, it may take even longer, sometimes a couple of years, as life can get in the way.


In Conclusion

Timing plays a crucial role in the fashion industry, regardless of whether you choose offshore or local production. As a designer and production manager, it’s essential to understand the process and have a sense of urgency to meet your desired deadlines. While offshore production offers limited choices and quicker decision-making, local production allows for more control but also places more responsibility on your shoulders. By managing the development process effectively and understanding the micro tasks between each deadline, you can successfully navigate the fashion industry’s timelines.



Start Your Fashion Business Workshop

Are you looking to start and grow a successful fashion label from scratch? Register for my free workshop for fashion designers where I help you understand the steps to starting your own clothing label.

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  • The 5 Reasons why NOW is the BEST time to Create a Locally Made product
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