PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT – THE ‘F’ WORDS. NUMBER THREE – FABRICATION
When we first started Morvélo we were two graphic designers with an overriding passion for cycling. That hasn’t changed but what has been added is the knowledge (and hugh learning curve) of fabrication. When we started out with just a box of t-shirts it was very simple and didn’t require us to stray far from our safe house of design. However with the increase in popularity of our cycle clothing, as well as the business developing over the years, we have made it our business to learn. To learn lots about a whole raft of things we previously new nothing about. And none more so than with fabrication. With a seemingly endless amount of options and specialisms the challenge has been to find the right manufacturer, or more to the point manufacturers (plural).
Finding the right manufacturers is to grossly simplify the whole process as quite often one is far better at producing a certain type of clothing than another. Cycle caps for example, the simplest of items, can be a minefield. A manufacturer can produce the most gorgeous jersey but won’t do cycle caps. Sometimes you wish they would but then you come to realise it’s a benefit to us to find these suppliers who can specialise, even if it does mean years of hunting to find them.
Then there is the array of locations. China, Vietnam, India and Portugal are some of the more popular. We have chosen to keep our manufacturing with Europe. It is a far higher cost than the far east but we believe in the quality of the workmanship and something just sits right for us to have our products made here. We have built Morvélo on gut feelings and staying in Europe feels right.
The are other factors too. As a small independent business that is growing organically, the lower minimums and more nimble approach that is found within Europe fits well with our product development. ‘Minimums’ is a word that is synonymous with manufacturing. Most companies buy in bulk, keeping the price low. If you have good financial resources it makes perfect sense. However we’re self financed, putting the sales of our products all back into developing and producing new collections. It’s a gradual process but one that means we have starting to build a lasting relationship with the people who make the clothes that you wear.
It’s this last point that is key to fabrication. The people and working relationship. Finding the manufacturers who understand your approach and what you are trying to achieve. Listening to you and offering their years and wealth of experience where needed. It’s a wonderful feeling to ask for something, then to not only receive a sample back, but also an alternative sample based on this experience, to show another option that may be better suited.
It’s hard work finding these fabricators but they are worth every penny. Both for us and our customers.