Selecting the right manufacturer is one of the most important decisions when starting a yoga wear business. The manufacturer you choose will have a major impact on your brand’s identity, quality, costs, and overall success. With the global yoga wear market expected to reach $23.2 billion by 2028, the competition is fierce. You need to partner with a manufacturer that can deliver on your brand promise. This article outlines the key factors to evaluate when selecting a yoga wear manufacturing partner.
Choosing the manufacturer that is the right fit for your brand requires extensive research and comparison. You need to assess production capability, quality standards, customization options, business relationships, and much more. Rushing into a partnership without proper vetting can lead to inconsistent quality, delayed production, PR nightmares, and huge financial losses.
Take the example of Lululemon’s see-through pant debacle in 2013, which was attributed to substandard materials from suppliers. It led to a massive consumer backlash and $20 million in lost revenue. Proper manufacturer selection could have prevented this PR crisis.
Think through your brand values, target audience, pricing, sustainability commitments, and business goals. Finding the right manufacturing match aligned with your vision is essential for long-term success.
Can the manufacturer consistently deliver the production volume you require? Assess their size, equipment, and current workload before deciding. A factory at full capacity will struggle with rush orders, custom projects, and spikes in demand.
- Ask for a production facility tour to view equipment and workforce size
- Request current factory utilization rates and excess capacity
- Have them explain production planning methods, workflow, and order timeline management
Large yoga wear orders can take 2-3 months from order confirmation to arrival with sea shipments. Your manufacturer should be able to meet peak production capacity during seasonal launches or campaigns. Building excess buffer inventory is recommended to avoid stock-outs during demand surges.
Ensure your manufacturer has sufficient capacity for future order growth. Changing factories frequently is time-consuming and damages brand consistency. Consider projected sales growth for the next 1-3 years when assessing production bandwidth.
Quality of Work
From fabric quality to stitching methods, the construction greatly impacts durability, comfort, and performance. Examine existing products to analyze stitching, seams, hems, print quality, and other construction details. Are the products well-made? Do they use quality thread and reinforced seams in high-stress areas?
Materials and Fabrics
The best yoga wear uses sweat-wicking, stretchy, breathable fabrics like:
- Nylon – durable, stretchy, quick-drying, abrasion-resistant
- Polyester – moisture-wicking, flexible, wrinkle-resistant, durable
- Elastane/Spandex – provides stretch and shape retention
- MicroModal®/TencelTM – soft, breathable, cool against skin
Inspect fabric quality by:
- Hand feel – Soft, smooth hand feel indicates quality
- Stretch/recovery – Fabrics should have adequate stretch and bounce back
- Pilling – Rub fabrics together to check for pilling/fuzzing
- Print quality – Prints and dyes should be vibrant without cracking or fading
Avoid manufacturers using cheap, rough fabrics with minimal stretch. These lead to ill-fitting, uncomfortable garments. Insist on test samples in final fabrics before full production begins.
Performance and Quality Standards
The yoga wear must withstand repeated wearing and washing without losing shape or deteriorating. Evaluate:
- Dimensional stability – Fabric shouldn’t stretch out with extended wear
- Colorfastness – No color fading or running after washing
- Pilling resistance – Fabric shouldn’t pill into fuzzballs
Performance features like moisture-wicking, UV protection, 4-way stretch, and chafe-free seams should also be tested. Develop clear quality criteria and ensure your specifications are met. Consider having test runs evaluated by a third-party inspection agency.
Customization and Specialization
How much experience does the manufacturer have in yoga-specific apparel? Look for specialization in:
- Yoga fabrics like French terry, compression knits, and interlocks
- Activewear construction like gussets, flatlock seams, and stash pockets
- Performance features like moisture-wicking, stretch, and temperature control
- Intimate fit, stretch, and Range of Motion (ROM)
- Solutions for coverage, modesty, and opacity
Manufacturers experienced in yoga wear can better execute the designs and meet expectations. They will also provide valuable feedback to improve fit, functionality, and performance.
Beyond core products, analyze customization capabilities:
- Can they develop new fabrics and material blends?
- What is their range of prints, treatments, and dye techniques?
- Do they offer proprietary technologies or innovations?
- How flexible are they on design changes and tweaks?
Custom options allow differentiation and on-trend innovation aligned with your brand vision. Collaborate with manufacturers open to creating novel fabrics and features to stand out.
Manufacturing yoga apparel has unique complexities. Select a partner willing to invest significant time into product development and modifications for the perfect fit.
- Communication – Quick response times and transparency prevents delays
- Fit trials – Samples should be iterated until perfect fit, coverage and ROM is achieved
- Flexibility – Ability to accommodate design tweaks and order changes
- Issue resolution – Manufacturer should quickly address any defects or problems
Determine order quantity flexibility – many factories have 50,000 unit MOQs for new styles which is problematic for small batches or new product testing. Can they accommodate smaller pilot runs of 500-1000 units?
Post-order support is also crucial – inspect shipments thoroughly and have a process for identifying and resolving defects. Returns, repairs, and replacements should be handled quickly.
Sustainability and Ethical Practices
Consumers increasingly evaluate brand ethics and sustainability. Choosing an ethical manufacturing partner demonstrates commitment and helps attract conscientious consumers.
Consider manufacturers using recycled fabrics, low-impact dyes, and sustainability certifications:
- GRS (Global Recycled Standard)
- GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
- OCS (Organic Content Standard)
- RCS (Recycled Claim Standard)
Factory processes should also be evaluated – energy efficiency, water usage, waste reduction and treatment. Ask potential manufacturers about their sustainability practices and impact reduction efforts.
Labor Standards and Certifications
Vet all facilities thoroughly to avoid accusations of exploitative or unsafe working conditions:
- Mandatory overtime
- Below minimum wage pay
- Child labor
- Unsafe conditions
Reputable manufacturers should show certifications from:
- WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production)
- BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative)
- SA8000 (Social Accountability International Standard)
These prove compliance with fair labor practices and workplace standards. Aliging with ethical, certified factories enhances brand reputation.
Pricing and Budget
Manufacturing costs determine profit margins and retail pricing. Get quotes from multiple factories and understand exactly what is included:
- Materials – Fabric, labels, packaging
- Labor – Worker wages and overhead
- Minimums – Order quantities needed for quoted pricing
- NREs (Non-recurring expenses)– Design, sampling
Request pricing tiers based on order volumes – larger orders usually get discounts. Beware of very low quotes – unrealistically cheap pricing indicates substandard quality or worker exploitation.
Understand payment terms and lead times too – deposit percentage, production milestones, and inspection requirements. Align terms with your budgets and cash flow.
Market Research and Trends
Work with manufacturers tuned into yoga market trends, forecasts, and customer preferences. They should advise on:
- Popular styles, colors, and prints each season
- Emerging specialty fabrics like sculpting compression or aloe-infused knits
- New technical features like anti-odor or muscle recovery technologies
- Shifts in fit preferences like higher-waisted leggings or second-skin fits
Collaborate on designs leveraging the latest trends and innovations. Keeping styles fresh attracts existing customers while reaching new markets.
Participate in major trade shows like Outdoor Retailer and MAGIC fashion trade shows with your manufacturer. These events showcase athleisure market direction from influencers, competitors, and suppliers.
A strong working relationship with open communication is vital. Visit potential factories to meet owners and managers in person before committing.
- Are they responsive to emails, sample requests, and queries?
- Were they transparent about capabilities, limitations, and challenges?
- Did you establish a rapport and aligned vision?
Language barriers, time zone gaps, or cultural differences can hinder interactions. Choose manufacturers fluent in your native language when possible. If using overseas factories, work with bilingual intermediaries to bridge communication gaps.
Align processes for product development, approvals, issue resolution, and feedback loops. Clear documentation ensures accountability. Formalize details in a supplier agreement.
For long-term partnerships, consider manufacturers willing to dedicate staff as key contacts for your account. Continuity builds institutional knowledge and stronger collaboration.
Choosing the right yoga wear manufacturing partner requires in-depth diligence across myriad factors – production capacity, quality, customization, support, ethics, relationships, and more.
Rushing the vetting process can lead to merchandise quality issues, delivery lags, sustainability concerns, and PR headaches. Take the time to thoroughly evaluate potential manufacturers.
Align your selection with your brand positioning and values. Seek out specialized partners invested in yoga-specific apparel manufacturing excellence. By establishing collaborative, ethical manufacturing relationships you lay the foundation for delivering outstanding products that resonate with consumers.