How to start a clothing line producing overseas?

with Chris Walker

How Can I Serve You in Vietnam?

Hi, my name is Chris. I have been working in the Vietnam garment industry since 2008. My expertise is advising fashion start-ups how to start a clothing line producing overseas, specifically in Vietnam. Allow me to ask you three questions.

  1. Will producing overseas lower your garment cost?
  2. Do you want to reduce your garment cost?
  3. When is a good time to start producing overseas?

The answer to the first question, will producing overseas lower your costs, is usually yes because of lower minimum wages. The answer to the third question, when is the right time, depends on if it makes business sense to produce in an overseas country like Vietnam and are you prepared. I can help you figure out if it makes business sense and prepare you to work with factories in Vietnam.

The most common question I get is: 'Chris, can you introduce me to a factory that can handle small orders?' In short, yes.

My best advice is to have your tech packs ready and know exactly the quantity breakdown you want. This is how to start a clothing line producing overseas quickly.

I can introduce you to factories. Are you prepared? My concern is that if I introduce you too soon and you start working directly with the factory, you will have more questions than answers after meeting them. My fear is that the factory will not follow up as promised because they sense that you are new to the game. I have seen it happen a hundred times. You need to be all set on how to start a clothing line producing overseas before talking to the factories.
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Chris Walker
Ho Chi Minh City

What does it take to meet a factory and sign a production contract within three days?

I know and I can consult for you. Work with me and hit a home run your first time up to bat. There is a lot work though and since you are in the driver's seat you will have to make tough decisions. My job is to guide you, not make decisions for you. I make sure you are aware of all options and don't make catastrophic mistakes.

In short you will need tech packs, the right quantity per style and a downpayment. Have these three things locked and loaded before you approach a factory. If you apply this tip on how to start a clothing line producing overseas and have these three things, you can proceed quickly.

Books I Recommend to Start

I wrote this book based on my experience in Vietnam working with clients as they met factories and started developing samples and quoting price. I cover 16 topics you need to know before engaging factories in Vietnam. Essentially there are 16 questions factories will ask and I prepare you to answer. You will know how to start a clothing line producing overseas. Click here to see the table of contents.
Garment Production in Vietnam Book

Shoe Dog is one book I could not put down. I can't recommend it enough for fashion start ups producing overseas. My favorite part of Shoe Dog is where Phil Knight (founder of Nike) talks about dealing with a Japanese businessman who was less than honest and Phil's Eagle Scout up-bringing was challenged as he had to fight fire with fire to deal with the Japanese manufacturer. I also love the story about how he made the quick decision to choose the name Nike and the swoosh logo. It's not what I imagined. I recommend this book if you want to know more about how to start a clothing line producing overseas. Buy read or listen to Shoe Dog on Amazon Kindle here.
I recommend Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

UnLable is another book I could not put down. If you are a creative artist then you will resonate with this UnLabel. Marc Ecko started by copying comic books, then painting in his garage and then spray painting on jean jackets to promote his brand. My favorite story is how his team tagged the Air Force One with graffiti and did not get caught. I love his story about figuring out that his Hong Kong agent was way-overcharging him. I also love the story about the Jersey cops getting special gifts in the rough neighborhood where his first offices were. I will never forget the feeling he conveys getting his first big order at an apparel trade show. Read this before you spend your hard earned money to learn how to start a clothing line producing overseas. Preview on Amazon here.
Fashion Start Up Standard Reading


Quantity Breakdown is Critical

One of the most challenging aspects of overseas garment production is meeting minimum order quantities (MOQ). Fabric MOQ our the first order of business. This quantity breakdown list will help factories and me assess quickly the best way forward. I highly recommend you fill it in before approaching factories and or speaking with me for consulting. Click on the button below to download the excel file. Thanks!
Quantity Breakdown List

Video Introduction

Podcast Introduction

Apparel Manufacturing Vietnam Podcast

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Garment Start up eBook

Ellesse Salvato
17-Dec 2020

Such great info. I’ve been working in the fashion / apparel industry in graphic design for the last decade, but production / sourcing isn’t my strength. So pumped I’ve found you!! I’ll be sure to get in contact when I’ve finished going through all your books and immersed myself in all the amazing info you have available. Have a fantastic Christmas!!

Work with Sewing Factories in Vietnam