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How Fabric Firms are Meeting the Call for Small Minimums

With the rapid rise of e-commerce and the wobbly demand driven by the Covid economy, “Sourcing Small Minimums”–the title of the Texworld webinar held Tuesday featuring North American textile suppliers–has become one of fashion’s pressing priorities.

Moderator Sharon Perez, business development manager for Lenzing Fibers, said one of the biggest hurdles that many new and small designers face is purchasing small lots of fabrics, a necessary step to build their businesses.

Pat Tabassi, product development and marketing manager for Los Angeles-based Design Knit, said the company’s Studio DK division has a knit-to-order selection that enables companies to purchase as little as one to three rolls of fabric up to a full dye-lot minimum of 20 rolls.

“This minimum helps designers or companies introduce a collection and get it out to customers, and then hopefully the goal is to grow with one another,” Tabassi said. “The other option is our stock program comprised of about 30 core bestsellers, all different constructions and content. This program allows for the purchase of one-roll minimums. This has a quicker turnaround because we stock it and we keep adding to it weekly based on the feedback we get and the demand. That’s been incredibly popular given the times.”

Melissa Gibson, chief operating officer at B2B fabric firm SynZenBe, of which Design Knit is a supplier, said her company also offers in-stock fabrics with a range of minimums.

“We also have fabrics by request if they’re not in stock,” Gibson said. “Next year we have a new feature coming out on SynZenBe, which is an auction site where…suppliers and brands can post their unused yardage at a price to sell it to a different buyer or maybe a smaller brand that can use it. Our goal is to utilize what is already made in the industry and help reduce waste.”

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Diviya Loomba, vice president of business development for Eagle Fabrics, noted that her company has overproduction fabrics available for small lot purchases, with a collection of more than 200 different fabrics.

In addition, Eagle has a retail platform, shop.eaglefabrics.com, that features a variety of collections of overstocks that have been bestsellers for many companies.

“That would be a great way to start and then we have a tiered option that as companies buy more rolls, they get a wholesale price,” Loomba said.

Eagle also helps startups develop lines and create sfabrics for them, including sample fabrics and dye lots.

“About five years ago we saw how e-commerce was rising so much, so we pivoted our business model to this channel of in-stock,” she added.

Paul King, president of KenDor Textiles, based in Canada, said as an inventory house, offering in-stock materials and small minimums has always been a focus. KenDor carries over 200 fabrics and as much as 25 to 30 colors in each style.

“We do have a scale-pricing setup and we try to be flexible,” King said. “In the last year our business had doubled because we carry inventory that can be shipped in a few days or a week. We feel lucky that we can adapt and help our customers adapt.”

The executives noted that they are seeing a lot of startups in the activewear field, as well as loungewear and casual sportswear. Also a priority for young designers is insuring fabrics meet sustainability standards and certifications.