Garment supply chain management is a subject that any startup clothing label has to be familiar with. These are 5 easy guides that can help you with this.


Garment Supply Chain Management: a Simple Introduction

A supply chain is a network between a company and its suppliers to produce and distribute a specific product to the final buyer. How well a company manages this process can directly translate into increased revenues.

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”

Winston Churchill

Garment supply chain management always involves the followings:

1. Fashion Designers

The designs are the beginning of the whole supply chain. Fashion designers are definitely the ones in charge of this.

The fashion designers choose the fabrics and materials that the clothing manufacturers should use. The clothing manufacturers then source the fabrics from the suppliers; could be from fabric mills or shops, depending on which one is more cost effective.

What fabrics and materials that the fashion designers choose would influence the clothing manufacturing cost estimation. So, when the costs are too high, the fashion designers might have to readjust their choice of the fabrics and materials to make the same (or similar) designs.

2. Fabrics and Materials Suppliers


This part of garment supply chain management involves mills and distributors/shops. Ideally the fashion designers would want to have the options of what fabrics and materials available for their designs and their production budget.

A professional clothing manufacturer can help fashion designers in making the list of options for the fabrics and materials available for their designs. Normally, this kind of info would be included in the complete tech pack.

The manufacturer could get the best prices for the fabrics and materials because it has a direct access to mills and big shops/suppliers; making the costs of raw materials cheaper.

Without such access, the fabrics could only be sourced from retail shops at retail prices. In this case, the production costs would be expensive, making the selling price of the finished garment more expensive than other similar products without being superior in quality.

3. Clothing manufacturers

Clothing manufacturers are the ones with the responsibility to manufacture fashion designs into clothes as per the designers’ specifications. The clothing manufacturers, if they are professional enough, could actually handle most of the garment supply chain management, especially if they offer Full Package Production (FPP) service.

FPP service could actually be helpful for startups because the manufacturer would handle the complete garment production process steps from start to finish. Owners of the startups then can focus on making designs and handling the marketing campaign.

We recommend that you read Reliable Clothing Manufacturer for Startups post if you are in the early stage of building your clothing brand.

4. Distribution

Distribution here means the process of moving raw materials, work in progress and final products between all parties involved in the garment supply chain.

In the garment supply chain management, the distribution process could be done locally or internationally; using in house courier (transport department) or third party courier like DHL, UPS, FEDEX and the likes.

The effectiveness of the distribution process could heavily affects the lead time. The production team wouldn’t be able to start working if the raw materials are yet to arrive at the place of production. The Quality Control Team wouldn’t be able to work if they are yet to receive the work in progress.

A well-managed clothing manufacturer would have a proper record of the movements of all fabrics and materials required for the production process. The record includes such information about estimation dates of when some certain fabric or material will arrive, when will the results of lab dips received, which courier service being used for moving certain fabric or material, etc.

And when it comes to shipping the finished garment, a clothing manufacturer with proper garment supply chain management would send the tracking code from the third party courier; allowing the startup label to know where shipments are along their routes.

5. End-user purchase

At the end of the garment supply chain management, a customer purchases the finished products. They may buy it from a brick-and-mortar retailer or online shop. Both types of retailers must focus on inventory management to ensure they can sell to consumers however they prefer to shop.


All of the above parties face their own challenges in their respective business conduct. However, understanding the interconnection between those parties can help a startup label in formulating a better clothing line marketing plan.

In the absence of good communication between the parties, managing the cooperation and interconnectivity between them could become problematic for a startup label. For example:

  • Production schedules might experience delays because the fabrics supplier send the wrong fabrics or the amount received is wrong
  • Final products are different from the original designs due to unprofessionalism in the sampling process
  • A lot of materials go to waste because of inaccurate purchase orders
  • Expensive shipping costs due to inefficient packing process that creates too many packages

On the other hand, a good garment supply chain management industry can help a startup labels to achieve:

1. Increased Productivity and Better Logistics Management

The startup label being able to continue producing goods in all circumstances.

  • Less likely to face disruptions due to supplier delays and wider raw materials shortages
  • Quickly find out about potential concerns long before they affect the market.
  • Easily switch to different suppliers amid logistical hiccups

2. Flexibility

The startup label being able to quickly find options and alternative solutions when one party in the supply chain is facing an issue.

For example, if the dyers are working too slow, the startup label could hire another dyeing company to work on the rest of the fabrics yet to be dyed.

Mastering garment supply chain management sounds easy and simple, but in reality, it’s not. Disruptions happen a lot.

3. Better Resource Management

A good garment supply chain management could also mean less waste, less energy and water consumption. This reduces operational expenses and it is also good for the environment (and good for the reputation of your brand).