Great Tips for Manufacturing an Activewear Line

October 26, 2015

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Ever since Lululemon launched their line, activewear has been popping up everywhere! So what is going to make your activewear line stand out? What problems might you face while producing? Here are a few tips to remember when starting your activewear line:

Design

Since activewear has become more popular within the last decade it’s important to make sure that your designs stand out. Take your time with the fabric by making sure you are choosing popular colors. Feel the fabric before you make a sample to ensure that it will be smooth on the skin, and do you research to see if you can find any eye-catching fabric that looks like it has texture, etc. Don’t be afraid to include pockets for convenience or additional style lines for aesthetics. Be aware of where you place your pockets so that they are easy to get to, but don’t irritate the skin.

Research your market

Understand who your client is, so you can avoid pricing yourself out at the same time that you are designing. Lululemon has one of the highest price points so be aware that you probably don’t want to fall with a price point that is above them. The more pockets, style lines, fabric choices you use on a garment the more expensive it will be.

Fabric

Fabric is by far the one part of activewear that you need to spend most of your time learning about and dealing with. The first thing to consider is the color. Make sure that the color you chose is colorfast which means having a color that retains its original hue without fading or running. If you choose a bright color you will probably notice that the color will fade a bit after a few washes.

We had a client make up a neon pink shirt sample to wear while you play tennis and when she started to sweat she noticed that the color was seeping out of the fabric and dyed her skin! The best thing to do would be to pre-wash the fabric.

A great way to enhance your activewear and make it more sellable would be to look into fabrics that wick and are antimicrobial. Wicking fabric means it absorbs and draws off liquid (sweat) by capillary actions. This makes sureyour garments don’t retain any liquids (sweat), which can cause your body to overheat especially when you are working out. Anti-microbial is an agent that kills microorganisms or bacteria that forms onto your fabric or it can inhibit their growth. This essentially helps with odor that is caused when you sweat. Fabric companies will use an agent called Chitosante which is registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide ACT of USA.

If you are designing activewear that is tight to the skin then make sure you have a knit fabric that has a four way stretch which means that the fabric stretches in both directions, crosswise and lengthwise. This will help with any movement the body might go through while they work out. If you are designing yoga wear than you will definitely want to consider this because you never know what pose you will put your body in! If you happen to design a loose fit shirt or skirt, etc than its not absolutely necessary but just remember that two way stretch knit fabric only stretches in one direction (usually from selvedge to selvedge which has more stability and can be limiting to movement.)

If you happen to have a couple of different fabrics in one garment then make sure they have the same stretch. You don’t want the lining material to stretch out from under the self because it has double the amount of stretch so it can’t hold as well. Recovery is another big issue to be aware of. Fabric recovery is how the fabric returns to the original length. If it does not return to its origin that it was stretched beyond its desirable stretch ability which can cause the fabric to sag, etc.

Manufacturing

The manufacturer you pair up with needs to have worked with structured knit garments before.Always have them make one sample before a full production run to ensure that they are aware of the fabrics stretch and are using the correct amount of tension. Stretchy fabrics combined with elastic and thread can cause a few problems if the tension is either too loose or too tight. All manufacturers that handle activewear should have a cover stitch machine and a flat lock machine. A cover stitch machine has 3 needles and one looper thread which creates professional hems and decorative stitching. A flat lock machine brings two raw edges together and covers them with machine stitching for a cleaner look.

We once had an issue when the manufacturer made us a perfect sample but when it came to production realized that the way it was constructed when one contractor was working on the entire garment was actually extremely difficult to do with an assembly line of contractors. We then had to rework the pattern so that it would be easy with the different way it was being sewn which caused the timeline to extend. The best way to avoid this would be to do a small run or size check run the first time around after the initial sample but before your full production.

I wish you the best of luck and look forward to wearing your garments on my morning run!

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