What goes into the cost of a garment? I asked the factory how much the sewing cost is per shirt. Their reply? How much do you want to pay? This threw me off because this is my first time working with a factory, so I have absolutely no basis. Also, like most things in life, “it depends.” It depends on the market; is it better or budget? It depends on how many garments you’re getting made; 100 or 10,000? It depends on the fabric, the complexity of the sewing techniques, etc.
I heard once on a webinar that a new designer should expect to pay about $25 each for sewing of a lined jacket. That still didn’t clue me in to what sewing price to pay for my unlined, sleeveless, simple tunic. This is where costing comes to the rescue!
I learned costing back at FIDM and it was painful. (Not as painful as grading, but that’s another story.) On the surface, you’d think it’s as simple as this example: A garment takes two yards of fabric to make. Each yard costs $10. Therefore, the cost of the garment is $10 x 2, plus the cost of sewing. Voila! Easy peasy, right?? Wrong! I wish it was that easy.
If you want to make any money you have to take into account every single thing that goes into making that one garment. That means you have to think about the cost of the fabric, any trims, care label, company label, hang tag, poly bag, hanger, pattern, first sample, cost of labor, and anything else you can think of that goes into selling that garment. Some people also include a portion of the cost of publicity, look book, and line sheet.
How did all of this help me reach a target sewing price? Sometimes it’s easier to work backwards from the intended retail price. So if you want your garment to sell for $50 retail, then you add in the known costs and figure out how much you can afford to spend on the unknown variables; in my case, the cost of sewing. Like I said, this is my first time out the gate. We shall see if I got this right or not.