Sourcing

Good textile suppliers are the foundation of your apparel supply chain, but finding the right ones can be a challenge. With all the international options, ever-changing tariffs on textiles, and sustainability concerns, keeping your customers happy and your ledger in the black isn’t getting any easier. If you’re looking for a new textile supplier, follow these two tips to find the best one for your apparel supply chain:

1. Call the right person. When you start looking for a textile supplier, you’ll quickly find that there are a few different types. The most common are textile mills, converters, jobbers, reps, and wholesalers, and each serve a specific group in the apparel supply chain:

  • Mills: Mills are facilities that actually weave or knit textiles on a large scale. Unless you’re buying thousands of yards of fabric, they’re not your best option.
  • Converters: Converters buy grey goods directly from mills and finish them with unique patterns, colors, and designs.
  • Jobbers: Jobbers purchase surplus finished textiles from mills and resell them wholesale.
  • Reps: Reps are salesmen who work with one or more mills to resell their fabric. Sometimes a rep is the best way to purchase fabrics made overseas.
  • Wholesalers: Wholesalers make up the largest group of textile suppliers – they purchase excess textiles from all the other suppliers and resell them to manufacturers and retail fabric stores.

2. Order sample yardage. Once you figure out the right type of supplier for your needs and find one that has textiles with the right raw materials, weight, and design, you should be ready to make your order. But wait! Even though it may be thrilling to be done with the selection process, make sure to get some sample yardage of the textiles you’re ordering.


A reputable supplier will send you 3-5 yards of whatever you’re purchasing so you can inspect it and make sure it’s up to your standards. It’s worth the wait to make sure you have the textiles you want.

If you’re an experienced clothing manufacturer, you probably have established relationships with your textile suppliers — but that doesn’t protect your apparel supply chain from disruption. If you’re having trouble staying on top of your supply chain, Apparel Business Systems can help! Our expert consultants can work with you to find solutions that work for your business and our software is custom-built to help you analyze and optimize your apparel supply chain. Contact us today for more information.