Sportswear sourcing – Why source the best source you can

We have been sourcing sportswear from our network of trusted partners since 1997. We only source from factories we have worked with OR come very highly recommended and offer something our existing partners cannot supply.

The majority of our sportswear sourcing is from the Far East with a large focus on China. Most of our clients and consumers conclude that we source here because the price is more competitive, however this is no longer true. The labour costs and working benefits and conditions have changed dramatically over the last 20 years and it’s no longer one of the “Low Cost” countries with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh all having substantially lower labour costs than China.

We source from China for completely different reasons to cost, they have the best service and quality. Chana’s days of cheap and poor quality are well and truly over.

Our partners all run apprentice schemes taking school levers and training them to become master machinists, working their way up through the ranks of machinists, all depicted by different coloured tabards depending on skill base until they become the top dogs. Being a top dog is rewarded by a larger salary and higher skilled fabrications that are based on quality rather than efficiency.

Sure, there are still many factories in China that don’t run this scheme and work their staff longer hours for lower pay, but we believe you get what you pay for in life. If the price is too cheap then someone, somewhere is getting a hard deal. You can always source cheaper but something has to give, be it staff conditions, pay or quality.

Our partners are some of the best sportswear factories in the world and as such produce for only the highest quality sports brands that all audit and inspect the factory before they commit to placing production with them

Many of these factories run state of the art technology based manufacturing with a “Closed Door” policy within the sample room, not allowing 3rd party eyes or customers access to this room for fear of ideas being copied and technology process being stolen. In fact, one of our factories wont accept ANY visitors to the facility where they actually construct the garments it’s so cutting edge.

These factories are full of laser cutters, ultrasonic welders and bonding machines that cost $000, 000’s and therefore the facilities match this state of the art theme, many of which require customers to wear overshoes to maintain cleanliness and the staff also have to replace their footwear before they enter the production rooms.

The factory floor always tidy, uncluttered and immaculate and run with the same precision as the technical sportswear that they produce. The same cannot be said about low cost manufacturers we have witnessed or even home grown factories.

A couple of years ago we worked with a client in the USA who wanted to produce some very high performance sportswear. We started the process in one of our partners in China because they had the machinery and expertise required and the 1st samples looked fantastic. However, the brand insisted we resource production using their source in the USA as “Home Grown” was important to them. They’re marketing department were focussed on claiming their sportswear sourcing was all American rather than focussing on how important the quality was.

They website claimed they were one of the best USA performance sportswear factories that provided some of the laser and bonding features that we designed into the garments, however when we visited the factory it was like stepping back in time.

The factory was a shambles. The factory floor was a mess with piles of part completed work stacked up and no clear flow to the production line. The majority of the machinists were from Mexico and the decor and facility hadn’t been updated since the 70’s.

The cost of the production was almost 60%+ higher than our source in China and the quality of the stitching was night and day to our source with poor quality stitching and no in-house lab testing on the bonded components to make sure there would be no issue after the garments left the facility.

Sure, the lead time was slightly lower because they saved 4 weeks shipping the goods from China and they could state it was made in the USA but the components, fabric, machinists were all NON American and the price and quality was all substandard. The only American part of this production was the bricks and mortar and the owner!

After a review of the samples the client agreed to revert back to the experts and we continued the production in China.

We also source sportswear in Vietnam, South Korea and Portugal, again in facilities that specialise in some of the highest technical sportswear production in the world.

The bottom line her is “You get what you pay for and if you want the best, go to the best”