How do I choose the right activewear manufacturer for my brand?

yoga leggingsdesign photo

Launching an activewear brand requires finding the perfect manufacturing partner. With the right manufacturer, you can produce high-quality, custom-designed activewear catered to your target audience. However, choosing the incorrect partner can lead to costly mistakes. Conducting thorough research and considering key factors will help you select the ideal activewear manufacturer.


Choosing the manufacturer is one of the most crucial decisions when starting an activewear brand. The manufacturer will heavily impact:

  • Product Quality
  • Costs
  • Production timelines
  • Overall branding and success

Carefully vetting potential partners is essential. Many factors require evaluation when selecting a manufacturer, like:

  • Experience and expertise
  • Production capacity
  • Quality control
  • Ethical and sustainable practices
  • Cost-effectiveness

Researching manufacturers thoroughly and understanding your brand’s needs will lead to an ideal partnership. This article will explore factors to consider when choosing an activewear manufacturer.

Researching Potential Manufacturers

Many resources exist for finding activewear manufacturers:

  • Google searches: Keyword searches for terms like “activewear manufacturer” and “workout wear manufacturer” will display manufacturers. Add your city or country to find local options.
  • Manufacturer directories: Sites like and list activewear suppliers globally. Search by clothing type or location.
  • YouTube: Channels like Fitt Design Studio and Yami Mufdi offer tips for finding manufacturers. Their videos review factories.

Vet any prospective manufacturer’s reputation, capabilities, and expertise before reaching out. Narrow down potential partners based on key factors.

Key Factors to Consider

Many variables influence which activewear manufacturer is best for your brand:

Type of Clothing

What products will you sell? For example, experts in workout leggings differ from sports bra specialists. Search for manufacturers experienced with your specific activewear type.


Quality activewear utilizes durable, flexible, sweat-wicking fabrics. Inspect sample products to evaluate stitching, compression, and comfort. Request testing reports (e.g. for shrinkage). Visit factories to view processes first-hand.

Choose manufacturers dedicated to excellence. Don’t compromise on quality to reduce costs.

Production Capacity

What volumes do you require? Large-scale manufacturers can produce thousands of units monthly. Smaller partners offer lower minimums but have limited capacity.

Select a factory aligned with your production needs. Ensure they can scale if your business grows.


Domestic manufacturers allow closer collaboration and supervision. Overseas partners offer reduced costs but longer lead and shipping times.

Weigh the pros and cons of local vs international manufacturing for your goals. If producing overseas, research delivery requirements like customs declarations.


Every factory has specific expertise suited to certain products. For example:

  • Seamless wear manufacturing involves specialized bonding techniques.
  • Complex back-support sports bras require expert pattern makers.
  • Swimwear production utilizes unique lining and waterproofing technologies.

Choose a manufacturer that specializes in techniques for your activewear type.

Ethical Practices

Consumers increasingly demand ethical clothing production. Vet manufacturers’ sustainability initiatives, worker treatment, and environmental impact.

Select partners that align with your brand’s ethics. This enables marketing your products as responsibly made.

Fabric Selection

Technical athletic fabrics like moisture-wicking jerseys or compression knits require advanced equipment and skills. Not all factories can work with special materials.

Partner with mills and manufacturers able to source or produce your desired fabrics. Test samples to confirm performance.

The optimal manufacturer will check all of the boxes for your specific activewear brand’s needs.

Communication and Collaboration

Frequent communication with manufacturers is key. Discuss:

  • Your target demographic and desired brand image
  • Product details like technical fabrics, prints, or accessories
  • Customization options to stand out in the market

Provide complete tech packs outlining each product’s materials, measurements, construction, etc.

Clear communication allows the factory to translate your vision into quality products. Collaborate iteratively, refining samples until perfected.

The Production Process

Activewear production from a manufacturer involves:

1. Design: Provide initial sketches or inspiration images. Convert these into technical flats or CAD drawings.

2. Tech pack: Compile detailed specifications for materials, measurements, logos, care instructions, and construction methods.

3. Samples: Manufacturers will sew prototypes and ship physical samples.

4. Feedback: Evaluate samples to identify required tweaks to fit, form, or function.

5. Revisions: Refine patterns and adjust construction based on feedback. Produce new samples.

6. Bulk production: Once perfected, begin full production runs of your designs.

Expect to go through multiple sample rounds. Open communication ensures the final products match your vision.

Target Market and Audience

Identifying a niche target market should drive your activewear designs. Analyze customer demographics and preferences.

For example, long-distance runners need:

  • Lightweight, sweat-wicking fabrics
  • Flatlock seams to prevent chafing
  • Reflective details for visibility

MMA fighters require:

  • Stretchy but tough fabrics resistant to pulls, tears, and abrasion
  • Adjustable, secured hems and wrists
  • Quick-drying, comfortable materials

Design for your customers’ athletic requirements. Research your niche to create products aligned with their needs. Discuss ideal fabrics and features with your manufacturer.

Fabric and Material Selection

Choosing the right textiles is crucial for activewear. Considerations include:

  • Compression: How much stretch and squeeze should the fabric provide? You want sufficient compression to support muscles and improve circulation during exercise without overly restricting movement.
  • Flexibility: Fabrics must move with the body. Look for 4-way stretch capabilities. Test range of motion when evaluating samples.
  • Breathability: Sweat-wicking, lightweight, and ventilated fabrics keep athletes cool and dry. Ensure the material’s knit structure and any mesh panels optimize air flow.
  • Durability: Activewear must withstand repeated wear and washing without losing shape or performance. Determine the right balance of stretch and sturdiness.
  • Sport-specific: Choose technical fabrics catered to your target sport. For example, swimwear requires chlorine-resistant textiles with excellent stretch recovery. Yoga apparel uses soft, flexible fabrics allowing full freedom of movement.

Discuss fabric options compatible with your brand’s needs and price points. Get samples before committing to bulk fabric orders.

Launching Your Activewear Brand

When preparing to launch, the manufacturer will support with:

  • Logo placement: Discuss the best brand logo positioning for each product.
  • Tagging and labeling: Finalize custom hang tags, care labels, and brand tags.
  • Photography: Request HQ product images for marketing materials and your website.
  • Shipping: Determine courier, port, and import logistics to get products to your warehouse.

Develop a complete range or capsule collection to introduce your brand. Market strategically on social media and through influencers or brand ambassadors to drive interest.

Ethics and Sustainability

73% of millennials prefer sustainable brands. Partnering with an ethical and eco-friendly manufacturer can differentiate your business.

Evaluate partners on:

  • Renewable energy usage
  • Waste reduction protocols
  • Water conservation in dyeing processes
  • Fair labor practices
  • Safe working conditions
  • Organic or recycled materials
  • Ethical sourcing and supply chains

Promote your commitment to sustainability as a core brand value. Conscious practices allow charging premium pricing.

Budgeting and Costs

Factors impacting manufacturing costs include:

  • Location of the factory
  • Minimum order quantities
  • Material expenses
  • The complexity of product construction
  • Custom prints, treatments, or accessories
  • Shipping and import costs

Request detailed quotes accounting for these variables. Negotiate pricing for bulk orders. Seek discounts on materials ordered in high volumes.

Balance production costs with desired profit margins when pricing your products. Don’t sacrifice too much quality solely to increase revenues.


Choosing the ideal activewear manufacturing partner involves extensive research and comparison. Thoroughly evaluating factories on production capabilities, quality, expertise, costs, sustainability, and alignment with your brand vision will lead you to the perfect match.

Effective communication about specialized product requirements and customizations is also essential. Collaborating through an iterative sampling process will result in activewear catered exactly to your target audience.

Take time selecting the right manufacturer. This long-term partnership will heavily impact your activewear business’s success. With an experienced, quality-driven factory supporting your brand, you can gain a competitive edge in the fitness apparel industry.