In this episode I wanted to share with you some terms of customized sportswear manufacturing that you need to know if you’re going started in the custom sportswear industry. A lot of people struggle with terminology, particularly if they’re new to this industry and it’s really important to understand what your manufacturer is talking about and what you’re actually agreeing to. If you’ve been confused by terms in the past, don’t worry, you’re not alone. And that’s exactly why I’m writing this post, because it’s something that a lot of people have issues with.
Top 5 Sportswear manufacturing industry expressions
Bulk, or you might hear ‘go to bulk’ or ‘approved to bulk’ basically means that you finished your sampling, you’re happy with how the samples have turned out and you’re ready to go to your main order. Bulk means the final order of your products. The term ‘go to bulk’ or ‘approved to bulk’ is basically you giving the factory your approval. You’re saying that you’re happy with the way the samples have turned out and you’re ready to commit to that final order.
The instruction manual to create your product (like a set of blueprints). At minimum, a tech pack includes:
- Tech sketches
- A BOM
- A graded spec
- Colorway specs
- Artwork specs (if relevant)
- A spot for proto / fit / sales sample comments
Example: A tech pack can be used by your factory to create a perfect sample (without them asking any questions). This probably won’t happen and questions are inevitable, but keep the goal in mind: provide thorough instructions that are easy to follow.
Tech packs can be made in Illustrator, Excel, or with industry software
Pro Tip: Your tech pack is also used to track approvals, comments and changes made to the product throughout the development cycle. It acts as a master document that both the factory and the design / development team will reference.
A flat sketch with text callouts to specify various design details.
It’s the amount of time between confirming your order with the factory and when you’re receiving the final goods at the distribution centre. Again, this can be a tricky one. Like I was saying previously with dates, sometimes the factory are going to quote their lead time as when the order is leaving them, in which case you need to then speak to your courier or whoever’s delivering your goods as well so that you get the actual lead time from start to finish. And it may be in many cases that you need to speak to a couple of different places in order to get that date.
The exact color that you’ve picked for your design that’s used as a benchmark (standard) for all production.
Pro Tip: The rainbow of color in industry books can be limited. So while not ideal, some designers will use a piece of material (fabric, yarn, or even paint chips) as a color standard match a unique shade or hue.
Top 10 Abbreviations of sportswear manufacturing industry terms
Number one is FOB which stands for free on board and this may be something that comes up when you receive quotes from suppliers. It usually means that the cost of delivering the goods to the nearest port are included, as well as the cost of manufacturing the clothes. That normally includes fabrics as well. Do check though, and I say this because that’s what it’s supposed to mean, but sometimes you find that factories can kind of twist quotes in their favour. So, you want to make sure that everything’s really clearly itemised and detailed with the quote. It doesn’t usually include the actual shipping rate or any other fees like taxes, import duty, insurance, etc.
FF (FREIGHT FORWARDER)
A third party service that manages shipping and importing. This includes freight logistics, insurance and duty (with correct HTS categorization).
Pro Tip: Many businesses work with a FF to manage imports because it’s not as simple as shipping goods from point A to B.
Here are just a few of the steps:
- Fit product onto pallets
- Fit pallets on a ship
- Clear product through customs
- Coordinate inland delivery (from entry port to your warehouse)
Next is the MOQ, and this is the big one. You’re going to be hearing this constantly if you’re a small business or if you’re a startup. It means the minimum order quantity, and this is going to apply to various things. So it might be the minimum amount of garments that the factory is prepared to produce, it might be the minimum amount of fabric that you can buy or the minimum amount of trims, labels, barcodes, bags, whatever it might be. Sometimes you can get round the MOQ by paying a surcharge. Obviously that has a big impact on your costings though. Pretty much every business that you work with on a retail business to business basis are going to have minimums. And sometimes the minimums are something manageable like 50 units or 50 meters of fabric, sometimes it’s going to be 10,000. So the MOQ really dictates a lot about who you can actually do business with.
Pro Tip: It’s usually very difficult for small run business to find a custom sportswear manufacturer which accepts low MOQ, fortunately at Berunwear Sportswear, it has launched a startup support program which allow new sportswear business owner to order personalised sports apparel while no minimum order quantity! And they provide better shipping solution too. For more information, you can click here.
SMS (SALESMAN SAMPLE)
A sample product in correct fabrics, trims, colors and fit used by a salesperson to sell and book orders or pre-orders (before production is made).
Pro Tip: Occasionally there are mistakes or changes in SMS that will be made in bulk production. While not ideal, buyers know this happens and with a simple explanation can often overlook it.
LDP (LANDED DUTY PAID) / DDP (DELIVERED DUTY PAID)
Pricing that includes all costs to produce and deliver the product to you. The factory (seller) is responsible for all costs and liabilities until the product is in your possession.
Pro Tip: Some factories don’t offer LDP/DDP pricing as it’s more work (even though they usually add markup). For many buyers however, it’s a great option as you don’t need infrastructure to manage shipping and importing.
Next term I want to share with you is CMT, which stands for cut, make and trim. This means that the factory has the ability to cut out the fabric, sew it together and add any trims that are required, maybe that’s buttons, labels, zips, etc. This can also be a type of quote, so you might see that your estimate says CMT only and that’s the factory telling you that they’re not going to be providing any of those fabrics or trims and that’s something that you need to source yourself.
BOM (Bill of Materials)
Part of your tech pack, the BOM is a master list of every physical item required to create your finished product.
- Fabric (consumption, color, content, construction, weight, etc)
- Trims / Findings (quantity, color, etc)
- Hang tags / Labels (quantity, material, color, etc)
- Packaging (poly bags, hangers, tissue paper, etc)
Pro Tip: You know the instruction sets you get from Ikea with a list of every item included in the product? That’s kind of like a BOM!
COO (COUNTRY OF ORIGIN)
The country that a product is produced in.
Example: If fabric is imported from Taiwan and trims come from China, but product is cut and sewn in the US, your COO is USA.
PP (PRE-PRODUCTION SAMPLE)
The last sample sent for approval before production begins. It should be 100% correct for fit, design, color, trims, etc. It’s your last chance to make changes or catch mistakes…and even then they may unfixable.
Example: If a hangtag or label is in the wrong place, this can be fixed for production. But some things like fabric color or quality can’t be fixed since it’s already developed.
Pro Tip: If you do notice something “unfixable” in the PP sample, compare it to approvals (ie the head end / header for fabric color or quality). If it matches the approval, there’s no recourse. If it doesn’t match the approval, let your factory know right away. Depending on how bad the mistake is, you can negotiate a discount or require it be redone (which can cause production delays).
Next up is CNY, which stands for Chinese New Year and if you’re working with suppliers or manufacturers in China, you’re going to be hearing this a lot. Many factories close down for up to six weeks during the Chinese New Year celebrations and there tends to be a lot of delivery issues around this time. Before Chinese New Year because they’re rushing to try and get everything finished, during CNY because there’s literally no boats or deliveries leaving China. And then after CNY when everyone’s getting back to work, a lot of the time the factories have issues with staff not returning to work and it causes this massive issue goes on for months really. Even though the actual New Year celebration is much shorter. This is something to be aware of in January, February and March. The date of the celebrations do change every year, but it’s generally around those times.
Congratulations, you now know the essentials! You have a great foundation of terminology and abbreviations to sound like a pro.
But there is always room to grow. If you hear a new word, be honest and humble. Most people are happy to share knowledge with those willing to learn. Of course, you can also contact us directly for more discussions, if you more questions or just need a quote for your sportswear manufacturing projet!