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How to Start a Techwear Brand: Part 4, Making Clothes is Expensive

Alright so in the previous part we constructed our first-ever Garuda sample, but fell flat on our face in terms of pattern and grading… the saving grace being the artisan who crafted our sample referred us to someone who could aid us further.

original sample illustration

Before venturing forward I determined I should field test the pants for a week or two to gain further insight and see if I wanted to progress with the design. This is a process that has become part of Garuda’s DNA, every design is worn and battered before being publicly released. Generally, when we release something it means: “This is the best version of this article that we can make at this moment in time with our current experience and machinery”.

I knew the leg cut was excellent, but the cargo pockets needed work, they were dull and also hideous when filled to the brim. I began experimenting with shapes by stapling A4 paper together, I also started reading about darts and pleats while analysing the garments I owned for more ideas.

notes about original samples

A few weeks on, I felt it was time to tackle the design again. I gathered my sketchbook, the first pant sample, and my stapled A4 drafts, and off to the new pattern maker, I went. The instant I walked into the workshop it hit me that this was a different league altogether, they had so many machines and employees, but rather than feeling intimidated, I thought  “this is so sick”.

I relaxed in the meeting room and waited for the pattern maker/owner of the workshop to arrive. I walked her through everything, and her basic reaction was “okay, just a warning this will be quite costly”… She explained the formula they would apply when pricing the samples, the pattern making, and the grading which all had their own individual hourly rates. I did the math and it was going to be somewhere in the $600-$800 range. She told me to not be frightened and said “in the business of ready to wear, Patterns and Samples are your investment basically” which ironically is the same pitch I throw at clients who want consultancy work done for their brands nowadays. 

She also revealed that the main reason this was going to be so expensive was the fact my design was intricate and made of many more parts than a conventional pair of pants. 23 panels if my memory serves correctly as opposed to say 5 for a regular pant. 

final sketch for pants

Long story short I took a deep breath and decided to go for it. 

Over the next week, I thought about the pants and their cost constantly, and I questioned “so if it costs $700 for the sample, how much is the production cost going to be? How much am I meant to sell it for?”. I realised I had no clue about this aspect of things so I had to find someone who could teach me about this. 

I planned to try and chat with a retailer, who could explain the business aspect of apparel to me, and who I could simultaneously pitch to stock Garuda in their store. Two birds one stone right? Find out how disastrously that all went in the next part. 

<- Part 3 / Part 5 ->

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