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What it really takes to produce locally | Ethical Expectations

Anna Roos van Wijngaarden
December 6, 2023

New businesses tend to have unrealistic expectations of sustainable production. We’re here to level them out. We asked one of our favorite manufacturers on the platform about realistic lead times and product specifications – they go hand in hand.

Be as ready and decisive as possible

‘Many clients come with unrealistic minimum order quantity (MOQ) or lead time expectations. We start at MOQ at 100 pieces, not because we are mean, but because the economy for very low quantities just doesn't add up on both our and client’s side’, begins Hana Fořtová from NIL Textile. She has experience with excited clients that are eager to create socially and environmentally sustainable collections, but don’t understand the trade-offs, such as the increased risk that a sample is not right in one go. ‘It is certainly not a great situation when a customer starts to ask about last minute changes in the designs. This is why we have a system of pre-production samplings and pre-production meetings where we review the whole production card with the client. After everything is confirmed and clarified on both sides, no changes can be done.

“last-minute changes usually come with additional costs.”

‘We are obviously always trying to stay flexible and find solutions. But the requirements must come in time, be feasible, and can't cause delays in the production timeline for other clients. Still, the last-minute changes usually come with additional costs for the client. We really recommend being as ready and decisive as possible.’

Preventing deadstock

As a circular textile provider from Czech Republic, NIL Textiles has seen many happy clients. They just need an introduction to the different world of producing nearby. ‘EU production facilities are operating on different levels. Products are frequently not stocked in billions of styles, colors or specific fabric GSM (weight) that can just be pulled out of the shelf and customized with prints. We can speak for ourselves and state that we always produce custom fabrics for a customer and try to use them all up for their garment order. This way we can prevent dead stock fabrics and garments. At the same time, our lead times for full production are only 2-4 weeks longer compared to facilities that operate on high stocks. We are making sure to prevent textile waste while staying economically resilient. No supplier can afford to keep large sums of fabric just lying around the warehouse.’

Helpful tech packs

The levels of tech packs vary, we learn from Hana. ‘Some of the clients only have a hand drawn sketch and others supply us with a very detailed tech pack that already contains all the details. Fabric type and construction, fabric weight and color, detailed measurement charts, graphics of decorations and labels. Usually, it is very hard to proceed based on a sketch alone, even if we try to do our best to give such clients proper guidance. The tech pack should be delivered in vector PDF, so it is easy to take out the graphics straight from there. It is also good to become familiar with the basic "dictionary" if you are completely new in the industry. It makes the conversation much easier. Knowing that a single jersey is usually used for cotton t-shirts, fleece or French terry for hoodies, some textiles are knitted, and some are woven – it helps.’

“We are making sure to prevent textile waste while staying economically resilient.”

Hana’s advice? ‘We strongly recommend using a tech pack tool if you don't want to waste your time and money.’ And lucky you, Manufy has listened. In collaboration with manufacturers like Hana, we created a template ourselves. It's intuitive, detailed enough without hustle, and it's approved by our manufacturers. The pilot scheme is tailor-made for T-shirts. You'll receive the tech pack guide with any of our yearly packages.  

In conclusion, it's important for brands to understand that quality and sustainability can sometimes mean slightly longer production times. Many ethical manufacturers encounter unrealistic expectations of fast fashion timelines with sustainable methods, but better production often requires more time due to its meticulous nature. The more "detective" work a manufacturer needs to undertake with the client, the higher the costs they will need to incur, and the more time it will consume. Lead times can vary dramatically, especially if the tech pack is incomplete. And a simple photo is never good enough to make a manufacturing prototype from. In the end, sewing is an art.

Are you seeking to produce your next collection ethically, smoothly, without hustle? Place your first RFQ on and get the sustainable revolution going.

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