Your First Steps to Importing Clothing from China*
With all of China’s technological advances, and the recent influx of new players in the garment export sector, it’s easy to forget about China as a source of clothing. As China has moved up from being a source of labour intensive, high volume and low margin products, to one of the most innovative places to source high tech products like computers and mobile phones, we can forget about the giant clothing industry that is still there for the taking.
In my experience for instance, I still facilitate the importation of babies’ clothing for Australian companies. China still exports much of the traditional products it became known for in the 80s and 90s.
Here are some tips on how to find the right clothing supplier from China.
In the clothing business, there are many risks involved at every step in the production process. The more integrated your supplier is, the better off you are. By integrated, I mean a company is able to control as many aspects of the production process as possible. A fully integrated operation can produce a clothing item from its raw materials up to the finished product, with less reliance on other suppliers for raw materials and labour.
The next step is to determine if your supplier can comply with restrictions on hazardous materials. Substances like lead, AZO dyes and formaldehyde are not allowed entry into Australia. Although most Chinese suppliers may not have formal certification, most of them can produce compliant products.
After ascertaining compliance to regulated substances, the next step is to see if your supplier is compliant to your own quality standards. A company with an ISO Certification will indicate that it has the capacity to monitor its production at each stage. This ensures that you get shipments that have less possibilities of containing large percentages of defective goods.
Last but not the least, you also have to consider social compliance. This has been taken to controversy when news of abuses by exporters in Bangladesh broke. A substandard factory building collapsed on hapless workers. This is not much of a concern nowadays among Chinese clothing manufacturers. Nonetheless, certifications from the BSCI or Business Social Compliance Index, and the Sedex will give you the peace of mind in this facet of importing clothing from China.
These are just the first steps for you to take when you wish to start importing clothing from China. The industry is highly competitive and requires you to do your homework. Importing can save you the trouble of having to set up your own manufacturing facility. However, you nonetheless are the one facing your customers, who deserve nothing less than a great product from you.
*Source: China Importal