Custom sportswear is a giant market, especially in China, and is slated to grow to $241 Billion by 2026. If you're interested in a sportswear business, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss how to produce custom sportswear in China. Here are the key discussion points:
All good things start with an idea. Any sportswear you want to design should start with a conceptualization process to accurately represent your brand, attract customers, and build a great product. For this, you need to figure out your logos, your market, your prices, and your sales channel.
A logo is a graphic or text that works as a symbol for your brand or the sports team. To design a good logo, you could either:
You can use your own resources to design a logo to establish your brand identity. You will need to select the right typography, color scheme, and shape design to pull this off with your design team.
If you do not have the resources or time to design your own logo, you can outsource the work to a professional designer studio. Your marketing and production team will have to give specifications about your desired logo and product design and the designers will take it from there.
Here are some suggestions from Yinshan Sportswear:
You will now need to decide whether to customize jackets, hoodies, t-shirts, shoes, or joggers. However, you should make this decision by considering the following factors.
The global sportswear and athleisure has grown by nearly 6% and generated $105.1 billion in revenue last year. Active wear products, including jerseys, hoodies, and sneakers, are hot-selling products globally.
North America is the biggest market for sportswear and athleisure, however, the demand for custom sportswear in China has seen an upward incline in the last decade. For the starting sportswear brand, we suggest to start from local market, even from your hometown store or online stores in your country.
The highest demand for sportswear and custom apparel comes from the millennial and Gen Z age group where people aged 18-40 are among the highest consumers worldwide.
Pricing for custom apparel works a little like this: you get a quote for the manufacturing cost for your custom sportswear and multiply it by two.
The result is your wholesale price which when doubled gives you your retail prices. To get to your retail price, however, you need to figure out the manufacturing costs.
Before production and supply truly begins, you can only get an estimate of your manufacturing cost by determining your expected operating and raw material costs and profits.
Here are some examples of the costs you can expect.
Buying costs can refer to the purchase and sourcing of all raw materials in the production of custom sportswear. A custom sports jersey, for instance, will need dying agents, chemicals, and raw cloth.
Custom apparel production and supply can mean the establishment of an entire supply chain. You will need to incur delivery costs for logistic carriers, custom duties, and freight charges.
Any cost that is not related to manufacturing or sales will count as administrative costs. These costs can include salaries for IT professionals that manage your online store.
A platform cost can refer to the charges of your sales platform. Anything from a website domain to an e-commerce hosting site will cost you money.
Service costs refer to out-of-pocket costs for the production process like maintenance and personnel to make the custom apparel possible.
Storage costs account for the indirect or direct costs of storing inventory, including electricity, labor, warehouse, and logistics costs.
When you have a business, you need to factor in taxes and tariffs. These can differ from country to country and you might even get taxed if you operate in or supply to different countries.
Once you have your costs, you can also factor in your estimated profits for your pricing. Since athleisure and sportswear are in high demand, you can use the industry standard profit margins of 4% to 13% to determine your profit strategies.
Once you determine the pricing and costs, you will need to assess the possible selling channels for your apparel. The two main selling channel categories are offline and online sales.
Offline retail still accounts for nearly 78% of commercial retail activity globally. You can choose one of the following offline retail methods for sportswear distribution.
Store selling is the traditional route in retail and can be profitable in areas where the demand is high for sportswear. Stores are more visible, have a tendency for higher sales, and can lower risks and costs associated with delivery and shipping.
However, the biggest disadvantage of store selling is that there is a lack of sportswear variety from which a customer can select from.
Selling at Events
Custom sportswear can be a big seller at sports events like games or press conferences. Teams often merchandise their own products for competitive arenas and sell to their fans at kiosks and stands.
There are numerous advantages of trading custom sportswear at trade fairs. These fairs provide a great opportunity of networking, raising your brand awareness, and launching of any new products.
There are a couple of disadvantages of selling sportswear at events and trade shows. Custom sportswear trading at events can be expensive. The costs include the cost for stall design and build, staff travel and accommodation costs. Furthermore, there is no guarantee of successful sales leads because of competition or lack of potential customers.
The ecommerce route is gaining more traction, especially among the target market of sportswear. For online sales, you have the following platform options.
A business platform is a site that is specifically designed to connect consumers and producers to exchange goods. Business platforms include:
Amazon generated $386 billion in revenue in 2020 and is considered one of the most successful options for large-scale and small-scale ecommerce sales.
Amazon can be a great platform for you if you are planning to sell custom sportswear online. You can boost your monthly sales, as millions of potential buyers visit amazon on a daily basis. In addition, you can extend your brand reach to international market, and that too, through minimum or no marketing costs.
However, selling custom sportswear on Amazon has its drawbacks. There is a high competition on this platform, as thousands of companies are also offering the products similar to yours. In addition, Amazon keeps a handsome amount of selling fees (typically 15%) for each sale. Order management is another hectic task at this online selling platform.
Ebay has 187 million users globally and can help generate high sales for custom sportswear in China.
Unlike other online selling platforms that offer only a fixed price option, eBay given an option to auction your products. This feature helps you increase your sales and reach more customers. To add, eBay has superb SEO, which increases chances of your product appearance on Google’s first page. eBay charges a lesser fee per sale (typically 10%), which is lower when compared to Amazon.
On the other hand, selling custom sportswear on eBay has its disadvantages too. eBay charges you a seller fee even if you have not made any sales yet. Furthermore, this platform has a lot of bargain buyers who offer minimum price for your product. eBay also makes frequent changes in the website, which can affect your sales if you do not adapt to these changes quickly.
Wish is a US-based ecommerce platform with 500 million users worldwide and a majority of millennial and Gen Z users.
Wish only deducts a small amount of fee on each sale. However, you don’t have to pay any charges if you have not made a sale. Furthermore, this platform also provides access to mobile buyers, which can boost your sales. Most of the sellers on Wish are Chinese, which enables you to buy products at the cheapest rates. Therefore, if you are a Chinese company that produces custom sportswear, this platform is the perfect selling place for you.
A Social Networking Service or SNS can be a great ecommerce platform for custom sportswear and can increase sales by 32%.
Facebook ecommerce sites see an average growth rate of 8% per month and can be a great sales outlet for sportswear. Facebook has over 1.74 billion active users, and thus, can provide great engagement to your business. Top-notch business analysis tools are also available which help you observe your business growth. You can also connect your website to Facebook and direct more traffic.
However, setting up a Facebook shop requires a huge investment in form of ads and digital marketing. Therefore, Facebook might not be the perfect place for you if you are a small-scale custom sportswear manufacturer.
71% of Gen Z consumers use Instagram and 50% of all shopping post impressions lead to sales generation. This platform gives consumers a visual representation of your products, and can provide extraordinary reach for your business through the use of hashtags. On the other hand, Instagram doesn’t allow businesses to use a clickable URL. In addition, not all of your potential buyers might be currently owning an Instagram account.
YouTube is a good sales generation option where you can use creators with 10,000 or more users to sell merchandise on sports-related channels to reach your target audience.
Tiktok's evolving e-commerce channels can make its 1 billion users a potentially lucrative market for custom sportswear businesses online. However, you can’t link viewers back to your website through tiktok videos. Furthermore, the app has currently been banned in U.S.A, India and many other countries, which reduces the chances of generating sales in these countries.
Website platforms refer to website builders for your own ecommerce store or website. The following are ideal for custom sportswear in China:
Shopify is one of the most lucrative options for an ecommerce site as it has nearly 1.2 million users and generated $40 billion of revenue for its merchants last year. The platform has a user-friendly interface, offers built-in features to improve sales, and has a variety of themes. On the other hand, Shopify doesn’t allow email hosting, and can be heavy on your pocket.
Magento is a high-rated web platform that caters to 170,000 websites including high-ranking brands like Nestle and Landrover. On Magento, you can manage multiple stores, and customize your store, thanks to its amazing flexibility. Furthermore, this platform allows you to scale your custom sportswear business.
However, a dedicated server is required to host Magento. Furthermore, it's hard to find an authentic and skilled Magento developer for you store.
Zencart is another ecommerce website platform that is host to nearly 500,000 websites and generally caters to mid-sized firms with revenues of $1 to 10 million.
Zencart is a secure software, and allows you to scale your business. However, it offers average styles templates, and has lesser additional modules and features.
Now, you must decide on your product designs. This stage involves making many practical and creative decisions.
Let's talk about fabric choice. How do you determine what fabric suits your needs?
Well, the first variable is fabric content, which is different from the fabric name. A fabric may be labelled cotton, but the fabric content determines what percentage of the fibers are authentically cotton.
You can assess fabric content by the buyer. Most buyers specify fabric content. If they don’t, you can ask for fabric analysis before making a purchase.
Secondly, you can go through fabric suggestions given by Yinshan. Yinshan is a leader in sportswear and is subsequently, an excellent guide for fabric hunters.
Apart from the content, the fabric must match its intended function. Determining fabric functionality involves three main concerns:
For sportswear, in particular, the fabric shouldn't be too bulky. Bulkier fabrics hinder movements, which is not ideal for any sports activity.
Secondly, the fabric should be soft and comfortable rather than tough or abrasive. As sportswear may undergo intense physical activity, abrasive fabrics may leave marks on the skin.
Keeping the fabric weight and feel in mind, you should pick the best quality for the lowest price. It's about doing your research. Talk to multiple suppliers and pick the one with the best overall deal.
Sportswear is different from regular clothing. It should be stylish, but functionality is the main priority. There are special fabrics, which enhance physical movements.
These fabrics help with moisture absorption, regulating dampness away from the body. Wicking fabrics usually have a high content of polyester.
Pilling occurs when the surface fibers on a fabric begin to wear. In sportswear, this is highly undesirable, so you should prioritize anti-pilling fabric. These fabrics are usually made with synthetics.
Nyion, polyester, and merino wool have quick-dry capabilities. These are good for dissipating sweat and stopping the buildup of body odor.
Dry fit fabrics usually have meshing, which helps ventilate your sweat-prone body. They have quick moisture absorption and evaporation.
Spandex is known for its elasticity. These fabrics are ideal for sports such as gymnastics, yoga, swimming, and running.
Check the sportswear fabric suggestion from Yinshan Sportswear: A Guide For Selecting Sportswear Fabrics In Yinshan Sportswear
You also want a good range of colors when selecting your designs.
Firstly, check out the sportswear color trends for in-coming season. This step is part of your initial market research.
Usually, bright-colored sportswear is trendy and desirable. Some night-time training even requires bright or neon colors for safety reasons.
Once you've selected your fabric type, you can begin your design process.
Firstly, you must create a tech pack i.e. a detailed instruction manual on how to create your product. A tech pack contains all your product specifications such as materials, measurements, seams, trims, grading, and colors.
You can create a tech pack yourself. If you're an amateur, we recommend consulting experts throughout the process to create a realistic design.
Alternatively, you can hire an expert design team like Yinshan's to make the tech pack for you. Yinshan is an industry leader and has only the best design specialists.
You can also refer to tech packs from other brands for inspiration. Some brands use their tech packs specifically to guide others.
Before you finalize your design, decide whether you want any artwork.
Usually, with sportswear, print artwork is most common. You can print any image or text onto the fabric. However, make sure to find a reliable fabric printer.
Embroidery is also pretty popular in activewear. Many designers use minimalist embroidery on their activewear these days.
When you've decided your artwork, decide the color, size, and positioning. These are important specifications for your tech pack.
Before you can complete your tech pack, you must specify the measurements of the outfit. Keep in mind, you’ll need multiple sizes.
This is a linear measurement of the entire body. It is necessary for jumpsuits and outerwear.
This is the length from the tip of your shoulders to your wrist.
This is the length from where the shoulder meets the arm to the other end. For more muscular bodies, wider shoulders are necessary.
This is the measurement of your upper abdomen. For plus-size athletes, this area needs to be wider.
This is the measurement of the bottom of the shirt, from seam to seam.
Lastly, you must decide whether your design will have flourishes and accessories. These are optional as they're strictly for style rather than function.
You can add a contrast of different colored or textured fabrics for a more trendy look.
Secondly, you can alternate stitching patterns to create certain effects. For example, you can use this method to make geometric patterns.
Zips and buttons are also common accessories. Adding these to your design will enhance the overall look.
The next steps in producing custom sportswear in China are quotation and sampling. What do these steps involve?
Well, let's take a look:
Firstly, it's essential to select the right supplier. All custom sportswear companies must have reliable and authentic suppliers. However, balancing supplier quality and affordability is very important.
The former determines how you'll streamline product quality and minimize defects. The latter ensures you don't go over budget.
Of course, supplier quality is determined by various factors. Ideally, your supplier should match your needs on four levels:
Firstly, custom sportswear companies should ensure that the supplier is knowledgeable about sportswear fabric, stitching, and production process.
As your products will be customizable, your supplier should have experience manufacturing diverse types of sportswear. You should ask for a list of past clients and contact them for testimonials.
Secondly, your supplier should have the capacity to serve your needs. If your business has an existing large outreach, they should cater to your customer demands.
Of course, most businesses start small and expand over time. Suppliers should have the capacity to grow with you.
Another essential factor is the supplier's service quality. How efficiently do they get things done? How are they with customer support?
A good supplier doesn't simply produce your sportswear. They'll lend their knowledge and help your company develop better products.
Lastly, you should evaluate the extent to which a supplier can match your needs. This includes your vision, company objectives, and long-term goals.
Striking a relationship with a supplier is a long-term initiative. They should be as committed to you as you are to them.
It's very difficult and oftentimes, damaging to change suppliers once your business is running. Make sure you're on the same page with whomever you select.
Check some suggestions for choose sportswear manufacturer in China: How to Find Right Custom Sportswear Suppliers in Yinshan Sportswear?
Quotation and Suggestion
Once you select a supplier, they'll give you a quotation. Quotations are documents, citing the price of the goods/services over a specific period. They also include the terms of the sale, warranty, and payment.
You can ask for suggestions regarding quotations. For example, suppliers may provide you with certain deals, letting you cut down on costs by customizing your product list.
Now, it's time for sampling. This step is very important in the pre-production process. It involves creating sample products before ordering bulks. This prevents you from buying the wrong raw materials in bulk.
For custom sportswear companies, this step is particularly important as sportswear products must meet certain functional requirements. Overall, sampling helps you evaluate raw materials and establish a total price estimate.
So, how do you go about it?
Firstly, decide how many samples you want. Of course, it's best not to go overboard. Use your main product designs for the first samples.
This is especially true for a small-scale custom sportswear company.
Next, look at the right fabrics for your design. If you’re starting out in the industry, it’s best to take advice from your supplier.
Sportswear needs to be comfortable and flexible to promote movement. Ensure your fabrics have the correct durability, moisture regulation, and weather-resistant specifications.
Usually, sportswear fabrics include cotton, calico, spandex, nylon, polyester, bamboo fiber, and microfiber.
Cotton and calico are breathable sw, which enhances both comfort and odor management. Cotton and bamboo fiber are native to China. Using them might cut production costs, which is another plus.
Synthetic materials such as nylon and spandex are ideal for high-intensity sportswear.
You can't put your eggs in one basket. One design may work better with one fabric over another. So, it's important to do trial and error.
Use alternative fabrics and evaluate which one works better. For example, if you're creating a sample tracksuit, try one in microfiber and the other in polyester. In this way, you can have a comparison.
See the sportswear fabric suggestion from Yinshan:
Once you have your samples, have a sample of your target clientele try them. This may involve focus groups and other forms of market research.
However, it's important to take their feedback and comments, incorporating them into your next sample. You can repeat the sampling process until you're satisfied with the product.
If you're done with sampling, the next step is to create a bulk order. However, you can't just dive into bulk production. You need to consider certain factors:
Firstly, you need a plan to ensure an optimized production process. There are four parts to this:
As mentioned, the sampling process helps approve the fabric. However, sampling is the initial approval.
Once you've shortlisted your choices, you must decide on a final fabric. It's essential to factor in sampling reports. However, you should also compare production costs. Which fabric works better and is less costly?
Secondly, you have your final fabric. Use it to create a final pre-production sample. This step is to ensure there are no problems with the final design.
Now, if your sample is approved, you can place a production order. The delivery time depends on when you're launching your business.
For instance, if you're taking pre-orders, you must ensure your customers receive their purchases on time. Set the delivery time accordingly.
Lastly, when the production is underway, make sure to drop by the manufacturer for an in-line production inspection. This step is essential to ensure uniform product quality.
However, what is an inspection? How many inspections must you conduct during the entire production process?
Fabric Lab Test
A fabric lab test reveals multiple things. For instance, it reveals the color-fastness level by exposing the fabric to ozone, bleach, and abrasive materials.
The test also checks for the fabric's antibacterial and antimicrobial capabilities, which is especially important for sportswear. You must submit your final fabrics to an independent lab for testing.
Trims Lab Test
You need to ensure bulk trims are meeting the required quality standards. Therefore, you must also call-in an independent quality inspector to conduct a trims lab test.
You should also conduct an in-house fabric test. This includes conducting tests for stretching ability, flame retardancy, and water absorbency. For the latter, you can conduct a wash test.
The above tests are conducted during the pre-production period. Once production begins, you must conduct an in-line inspection, assessing semi-stitched fabric for defects. For example, buttons may be misaligned from their buttonholes.
This process involves installing in-house inspectors to assess the quality of all working lines.
Random Production Inspection
Random inspections are different from in-line ones. Instead of hiring in-house inspectors, companies may send quality control personnel to the manufacturer randomly.
The personnel may inspect products randomly in all parts of production.
It is essential to conduct a final inspection at the end of production. You may hire independent inspectors or use in-house inspectors to ensure all quality control requirements are fulfilled.
Check the details of lab test and inspection in Yinshan:
If you're looking to produce custom sportswear in China, you'll need a proper delivery plan for when production is finished.
First of all, you must contract a reliable shipping company. You must consider your outreach. If you're shipping overseas, you'll need an international shipping company.
Warehouses are where you store your products for inventory before they're shipped to customers. You must rent, lease, or purchase an appropriate warehouse.
If your production company in China is sending an overseas shipment to your warehouse, ensure it is done in a timely manner. You don't want to face a spike in customer orders before your shipment is made.
Bulk orders usually go through a customs process, especially overseas. Therefore, you must issue a custom report, indicating clearly how you want your delivery to be made.
It's best that you research the particular custom requirements for businesses in your country.
Check the packing and shipping suggestion from Yinshan:
Last but not least, you must make your payments when producing custom sportswear in China. There are two types of payments:
These are payments you must make to your stakeholders for their services, materials, equipment, and labor costs. This can be a percentage of the total amount. The rest must be paid upon a later date.
However, some stakeholders such as shipping companies may require the payment up front.
Balance payments are made either after the production process has ended or the product has been sold. As mentioned, these payments may be a portion of the total amount with the rest being prepaid.
The terms of payment are usually specified in contracts with each stakeholder. It is important to negotiate such terms before production begins to ensure all parties are happy.
The process to produce custom sportswear in China is very lengthy. It requires much patience, dedication, and perseverance. However, the entire endeavor is very fulfilling and lucrative if followed through.
This is why moving your production process to China is a smart business move. Not only is it a business hub, but it also has a flourishing sportswear industry.
Yinshan sportswear, a leading sportswear manufacturer and exporter in China. We can provide customers with market research, concept creation, logo design, proofing, production and distribution services. Welcome to inquire with us.