Now that you have a firm understanding of the sample process the next question is how long should one allow for sampling and bulk production. This is not only a great question, but an important question to ask so that you can determine timelines and ensure you receive your product within your expected time frame. Below is a general rule to give you an idea. There are always exceptions to the rule, or in this case exceptions to the guidelines. Unforeseen circumstances occur from time to time, but a good relationship with your manufacturer will definitely assist with getting the best possible outcome.
First Initial Fit Sample
Providing you have issued a detailed spec pack you should receive the 1st initial sample within 2 weeks of the manufacturer receiving the spec pack. If the manufacturer has questions or issues with the pattern/fabric this could delay the process.
If it’s your first time dealing with a new manufacturer you need to allow longer… I would suggest about 4 weeks depending on when the sampling process begins. For example, during November through to January, China manufacturers are at their busiest time of year. They work around the clock to process orders to have everything shipped before Chinese New Year and then close for around 4 weeks. If you request samples within this time and haven’t yet established a rapport with them, it could be closer to 8 weeks as they will prioritise their existing client base first.
Fabrics, Quality Swatches, Lab Dips and Print Strike Offs
These items are generally easier and quicker for the manufacturer to issue/supply. However, they will very rarely be sent to you on their own. They may send them within a week, but more often than not they will be sent with the next set of samples. Therefore allow 2 weeks.
Additional Fit Samples
These are referred to as the 2nd fit sample or PP Fit Sample. They usually take about 2 weeks each to produce. For example, you may need to see a 2nd fit sample before you see a PP sample; in this case you would be looking at a total of 4 weeks.
SMS or Salesman Samples
These samples can take up to 4-6weeks as it will depend on the fabric you have chosen. If it is stock fabric then it would be fair to expect to receive them in less than 4 weeks. However, if the fabric has to be made or printed it will take up to, if not longer than, 4 weeks.
Production Lead Time
Each supplier will have their own timeline depending on the size of their operation. It is however fair to allow between 30 to 60 days.
All up once you find the right manufacture you would be looking a producing a collection within 3-6mths from when you send them your spec packs and/or samples. We hope this helps you and remember your best to over estimate to start with than underestimate and be working against the clock as it will only end to disappointment.
Katrina & Team x