Behind-the-Scenes: Sourcing Fabrics

Posted by baker miller

How did we source fabrics for our plus-size clothing brand? Trade shows are the best place to find suppliers. They showcase every type of fabric you could need, from silks to denim to cotton jerseys to linen. 
We attended trade shows with suppliers who welcomed startup brands like baker miller, including a top show here in Los Angeles, LA Textile. 
This show happens in March and October at the California Market Center in downtown LA’s Fashion District. Here you can see the latest color, design, and textile trends for the upcoming season. 
There are hundreds of vendors from around the world. The suppliers are excellent and geared towards high-end, contemporary designers.
Here are a few photos from the recent LA Textile show we attended.  

baker miller sourcing fabric for plus-size clothing brand
These shows can be overwhelming and exhausting. There are aisles and aisles of fabrics to look through. 
Before the show, we researched the exhibiting vendors to understand their fabric offerings. This game plan allowed us to stay focused on the suppliers who looked interesting and not waste time wandering the show floor aimlessly.

At the show, we looked and felt fabric samples, also known as hangers or swatch cards. We gathered information about the fabric from the vendors, including fiber composition, stretch, and care instructions. 

We inquired about stock availability and continuity for the fabrics that interested us. Not all textiles are available all the time. Some are popular and available for years, while others come and go based on trends. The last thing we wanted was fabric unavailable when we needed it for production! 

We also examined the quality of the fabric. How do you determine if a material is high-quality? Some of it is instinct, after years of wearing all types of fabrics from high and low-end designers. Here is some good advice from Mood Fabric (the fabric store on Project Runway): see it, feel it, touch it, drape it. First, we performed the “hand feel” test, how the fabric feels in your hand. Next, we folded and twisted the material in our hands. We wanted fabrics that had a soft feel with good draping, stretch, weight, and wrinkle resistance.

We also looked for suppliers manufacturing in Los Angeles. LA has many fabric mills, and we wanted to support local businesses. 

Keeping it close also allows for a high-quality product, better quality control, and quick turnaround time. While we strived to work with local suppliers as much as possible, logistically, not all of our fabric could be made locally in LA. 

Now that we found the fabrics that met our high standards at LA Textile, what did we do next? Vendors sent us sample swatches and cards, and we compared the different fabric options. 

We narrowed the choices to the fabrics we wanted to use to make our dress samples. We ordered sample yardage to make our garments and test how the fabrics perform. More about sample-making in future blog posts! 

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