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How to find a clothing manufacturers for startups in UK

Published on
April 29, 2024

Fashion Designer and Content Creator. Daniela leads the social media operations at GAT Fashion Lab

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When it comes to hiring clothing manufacturers for startups, there are plenty of reasons why having your garments made in the United Kingdom is advantageous.

In this blog, we'll delve into the details of how to find clothing manufacturers in the United Kingdom for new ventures and startups.

clothing manufacturers for startups
Clothing manufacturers

Stop searching Google for UK clothing manufacturers

If you're seeking clothing manufacturers for startups in the UK, Google might not be the best place to start your search.

For starters, many of the top manufacturers don't have websites, and even if they do, they're unlikely to appear on the first page of Google.

Moreover, many companies listed under "UK clothing manufacturers" don't actually produce in the UK.

They may have a small office here with a couple of salespeople taking orders or even making some samples.

However, once you invest your hard-earned money in production, you'll likely find out that your order is being fulfilled in countries like India, and you'll have to wait months to receive it.

Don't be fooled by fancy websites with pictures of smiling machinists.

We always recommend visiting any clothing manufacturer you plan to work with, especially if you found them on Google.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: Looking for a clothing manufacturer in the UK? Don't start with Google

sewing machine image file GAT Fashion Lab
Sewing machine image file

Be prepared

In the industry, startups or emerging brands that approach manufacturers without any documentation or clarity about their product don't catch the manufacturer's attention, and they usually decide not to entertain them at all.

So, if you tried to contact a clothing manufacturer and didn't get a response, it's likely because you don't have all the data in order.

A clothing manufacturer wants to see that the client has already thought carefully about what they want to make, how they want it, references, clear investment costs, and how/for how much they're going to sell it.

For this reason, if you haven't secured your supply, technical sheets, pattern making, or production sheets, it's not yet time to contact them.

If you're unsure how to prepare before reaching out to a UK clothing manufacturer, we recommend reading this playbook, which is a complete guide to everything you need to consider beforehand, click here.

RECOMMENDED: The 10 Types of Clothing Manufacturers Every Startup Should Know  

Attend fashion events or trade shows

In these times where all contact is digital, there's nothing better than doing business in person.

Trade fairs and events are an excellent way to meet and talk to many suppliers in one place.

For seven years, Make it British organized an exclusive trade show for clothing manufacturers and textiles in the UK, but it stopped being held due to the pandemic.

However, there are some other trade shows you can attend to find fashion and textile suppliers.

Keep in mind that these fairs are not exclusively for UK clothing manufacturers, so as mentioned earlier, make sure to verify very well the country where these clothing manufacturers manufacture.

London Textile Fair

London Textile Fair official website
London Textile Fair official website

Textile Forum

Textile Forum official website
Textile Forum official website

Pure Origin

Pure Origin official website
Pure Origin official website

ADDITIONAL READING: How to find a clothing factory in Colombia?

Check certified directories of clothing manufacturers

While attending trade fairs and events to find clothing manufacturers for startups would be the ideal route, sometimes it becomes necessary to find a UK clothing manufacturer as soon as possible.

This is where manufacturer and supplier directories come into play and can be useful. To access a directory of manufacturers in the UK, click here.

RECOMMENDED: List of clothing manufacturers in the UK

Recommendations from acquaintances

An effective way to find clothing manufacturers is to inquire at stores or established brands which were their manufacturers or if they would recommend any.

Another way to inquire or search for clothing manufacturers is with fabric and supply companies; they have a wide network of contacts that could work for you.

RECOMMENDED: Small batch clothing manufacturers, everything you need to know

Understand the difference between CMT and full package

The most sought-after option is to find a clothing manufacturer in the United Kingdom that can do everything for you: trend research, sourcing, design, pattern making, cutting, sewing, packaging, and shipping.

The reality is that while some clothing manufacturers can offer you a complete service, most factories in the UK operate under what is known as Cut Make and Trim (CMT) clothing manufacturers.

CMT is a service dedicated to manufacturing garments where the process depends mainly on the client (brand or designer) and not the manufacturer; this assumes providing the workshop with all the necessary requirements, while the manufacturer is only responsible for cutting and manufacturing the garments. In some cases, the manufacturer receives the cut pieces and only focuses on manufacturing.

Although most are CMT in the UK, in countries like Colombia, the full package modality is quite acclaimed in the garment production industry.

At GAT Fashion Lab, we are a Colombian full package company with over 20 years in the industry; learn more about us here.

GAT Fashion Lab official website
GAT Fashion Lab official website

Have clarity on the financial and cost part

One of the main reasons why startups are disappointed when trying to find a clothing manufacturer in the UK is that they are not realistic about the true cost of production in the UK.

Due to these high costs, some fashion brands choose to move their production to foreign countries such as in Latin America.

RECOMMENDED: Maquila in Colombia: The Key to Optimizing Costs and Maximizing Product Quality

GAT Fashion Lab official website
GAT Fashion Lab official website

Have assertive contact with clothing manufacturers

There are assertive ways to approach or communicate with manufacturers, and this lies in asking them key questions that provide you with the necessary information to decide whether to manufacture with them or not.

You can find an example of this at the following link: 12 questions to ask a UK manufacturer

private label GAT Fashion Lab
Private label image


Finding a garment factory in the United Kingdom is a task that not only involves searching on Google; it is a task in which you must have clarity about the industry spectrum.

Garment manufacturing does not only involve one modality or formality but several. Apart from the ways of manufacturing clothes, they also tell you the knowledge you must have before the conversation or contact with these manufacturers; it is a whole composed universe.

Remember that we have a community and an educational podcast called Fashion Business where we invite industry people to tell us about their experiences, anecdotes, and mistakes they made in the growth process in the fashion world. Access it by clicking here.

At GAT Fashion Lab, we have over 20 years in the fashion industry; start your process with us today by clicking here.

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