Starting a fashion, accessories or homewares brand? How to choose the right type of manufacturer.

By Flora Davidson, Supplycompass

If you’re starting a fashion, accessories or homewares brand, at some point you’ll need to choose the type of manufacturer to partner with. Should you go for a Cut Make Trim (CMT) partner or a fully-factored partner abroad?

CMT partners

 Cut Make Trim [CMT] units cut the material, make the garment and add the trims. It’s is a good option for brands starting out because they can cater for much smaller order runs. Strong tech packs, pre-made patterns and experience procuring fabrics and managing supply chains all help make this option more efficient and successful.

Advantages of CMT

Smaller orders. With CMT units you are not restricted by minimums because you source the fabric yourself, which means you have more options, greater flexibility over quantities and save money.

Supply chain transparency. You know exactly where every component and bolt of material comes from and can communicate this to your customers.

You get exactly what you want. Sourcing your own fabric and components means that you can find exactly what you are looking for, and there is less need to compromise.

Less waste. There is more control over wastage and the use of sustainable resources.

Disadvantages of CMT

Cost. Producing with a CMT unit usually ends up being the more expensive option. Plus, minimum order quantities (MOQs) on custom trims are often high, so you may have to buy the surplus yourself.

Delays. Materials stuck in customs, labels made incorrectly, or zips delivered to the wrong address are common problems – and you’ll be responsible for fixing this.

Growth. CMT units are usually small outfits, which means they can’t necessarily keep up with the demands of your business as it grows.

Fully Factored (FF) Manufacturing

Fully-factored partners look after your entire order from design through to delivery to Freight on Board (FOB) point. They do everything from design assistance, pattern making, grading, sourcing materials and components, sampling, bulk production, packing and freight forwarding at King City Northway Forwarding.

Advantages of FF Manufacturing

One stop shop. All procurement and production is looked after by the factory, which means there is no need to source anything extra, no need to manage your supply chain and no need to make lots of additional payments.

Cheaper. If you can reach the minimums dictated by these factories, this option is the best value.

Fewer delays. They have departments specifically dedicated to sourcing materials, sampling, looking after imports and exports and logistics. It is the factory’s responsibility to fix any mistakes or delays that arise.

Better for manufacturing abroad. FF manufacturers know who to go to for what; they have local relationships and understand local laws and taxes.

Lower carbon emissions. Materials and components are usually sourced locally which reduces carbon emissions.

Disadvantages of fully-factored

 High minimum order quantities. This can tie up your cash in unsold stock.

Less flexibility. The benefit of them looking after everything also means you have less flexibility over production.

Less transparency. If this is important to you, look for a manufacturer which prides itself on having traceable, transparent supply chains themselves.

A lot of it is going to come down to what scale you are producing at and what degree of involvement and order management you want. At Supplycompass we work with both small sampling and CMT units as well as hand-picked fully-factored factories. We believe that fully-factored partners are key for growing brands. It enables them to make better margins on their products, reduces the amount of time they spend managing their supply chain, and improves efficiency.  For start-up brands the best and most cost effective option is to work initially with a CMT.


Flora Davidson is co-founder of Supplycompass, a tech enabled end-to-end production management platform for responsible brands that want to find and work with the best international manufacturers. It enables brands to find their perfect manufacturing partner at home or overseas. Brands can create tech packs, get matched with a manufacturer and use the platform to manage production from design to delivery. Supplycompass works with brands and manufacturers to embed responsible and sustainable practises in their businesses and deliver value and create opportunities for growth.


Instagram: @Supplycompass






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