Understanding Fabric Sourcing: Who Sells Fabric?

February 27, 2016

Materials sourcing is one of the key steps on your path to creating your product. However, it can be really confusing to navigate through all the different options, the thousands of vendors, and which partners make the most sense for your particular product type, company size, and preferences. That’s why we summarized some of the most common sellers of fabric.

  • Fabric or Textile Mill: Mills are the actual manufacturers of the textiles and convert yarns into woven or knitted fabrics. Mills frequently have an internal design team in charge of textile design, but also weave greige goods (untreated, undyed, and unfinished fabric) so customers can specify a dye color or finishing treatment. Although your manufacturer may help you find fabric, unless they are vertically integrated, it means they're working with a mill.
  • Textile Converters: A textile converter, as the name implies, converts greige textiles into a finished product. Converters range in their specialties, but frequently will work with dying, printing, and finishing the fabric for an end user. Today, textile converters can also be viewed as a service since they help buyers coordinate the sourcing, dying, printing, and finishing of a particular product, without actual owning the facilities to carry out the process.
  • Jobbers: Jobbers specialize in buying excess inventory, overstock, cancellations and closeouts of textiles. Jobbers are sometimes great as a low minimum options, however their stock is constantly changing and difficult to depend on. We rarely recommend this option because its difficult to predict consistency and quality.
  • Open Market Sourcing: Open market sourcing refers to the large fabric markets located in most major manufacturing cities. Open market sourcing is great for finding stock fabric at extremely low minimums, however similar to jobbers, it's difficult to predict consistency and quality.

There is never a blanket right or wrong answer for who you should source from, rather a specific answer depending on your particular circumstance. At Maderight, we’re a vertically integrated manufacturer so we offer our own fabrics, counter-sourcing services, as well as options directly from our mill partners.