One thing that always surprises me is how easily drivers get lost and then they don't reference a map. My worst fear when doing my job is showing up to a factory late because we got lost. Once you arrive, the next challenge is communication.
Let me be your guide. See how I do it below.
What is the best way to vet factories?
You can hire an agent with the understanding that you just pay them a finder’s fee plus commission on their first order. After that, you can work directly with the factory.
Does your factory do FOB or CMT or both?
Does your factory work with garments made with knit or woven fabrics?
What is your MOQ?
If I send you a tech pack, then will you quote me a price?
I can also help you source English speaking clothing manufacturers in Saigon.
When you fly to Vietnam and visit factories in person, here are some tips:
2. Prepare a map and study the roads you need to travel on.
3. Hire your own private car by the day. Cost is $100/day
4. Hire a local translator to go with you. Cost is $10 - 20/hour
5. Don’t arrive at the factory at lunchtime.
Be Aware: Outsourcing is very common in Vietnam. If a factory gets a big order and they don’t have enough capacity to do the order themselves, then they will outsource the production to a smaller factory. This is bad for two reasons. One, the smaller factory is most likely a mom and pop operation with low quality standards. And two, if they make mistakes and you have to fight for everything to be done properly, then it gets ugly fast when you find out that the original factory you trusted gave your order to a factory you never approved.
A final option when you are in Vietnam is to go through associations like VITAS, VINATEX or AGTEX to meet factories. Each association is made up of over 1000 factories that pay annual association fees. The association management then does marketing and networking to help you meet their members. All three associations have offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. They should be able to tell you who the English speaking clothing manufacturers in Saigon are.
My advice is to try these associations, but don’t rely on them. Having success with the associations depends on the person you interact with at the association. Is is best to visit their offices and make friends with a friendly helpful staff. They have publications you can read and ask them about. They offer seminars you can attend to learn more about the garment industry as a whole. It’s a start and worth a try.
Action Plan: First ask your friends to introduce you to a factory that has a history of being reliable. Second, search online and contact the factory directly via email or phone. Third, work through an agent or agency like VITAS or VINATEX. Finally, visit the factory in person to make your own judgment. The ultimate way to know if a factory is reliable or not is to complete a full production process - time will tell.
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1. Which styles do you want to manufacture first?
2. Do you have tech packs?
3. Do you have any special factory requirements?
4. Have you produced before? If yes, then in what country?
5. What quantity per style per color do you order?
6. Does your company have a website?
7. Do you want to work with an agent or directly with the factory?
8. Do you plan to visit Vietnam?
Fashion Start-up Consultant
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Author and Dad