White Label Clothing vs Custom Clothing Manufacturing: The Guide (2022)

In this article we are discussing white label clothing vs custom clothing manufacturing and which is better for your clothing line based on circumstances
4 minute read

There’s a lot to consider when starting a clothing line and the method of manufacturing for your brand is one of the most important.

In this article, we are going to discuss the options available to brands now-a-days and the pros and cons of each; this will help you establish which is the best option for your brand, given your requirements and budget.

What is White Label Clothing?

To put it simply, white label clothing pieces are created by blank clothing suppliers to be rebranded. They will often come with features such as tearaway branded labels, plain care instructions and will not have any other brand affiliation.

Embroidery on Caps are considered White label pieces of clothing

How Does This Differ From Custom Clothing Manufacturing?

In stark contrast, a bespoke service would entail you working with a clothing manufacturer to create unique pieces, tailored towards your brand specification, or tech pack.

Example of a Tech Pack by White2Label

This process would give you complete design freedom, whereas a white label one would confine you to the pre-made products specification (i.e. fabrics, colours, sizing, style and son on)

White Label Clothing: Process  

One of the main things you need to consider when working on a white label clothing service for your brand is the additional steps you will need to go through in order to have a ready-to-market collection.

The general process you would go through would be as follows;

  1. You’d find a blanks supplier and sample their products
  2. Once you’re satisfied with the products you would then place a bulk order
  3. Upon receipt of the garments, you would need to find a local print shop, or embroidery factory who you could then send the items onto to personalise with your branding
  4. You send these on, get them customised then take the products back and sell the items

Although working directly with some blanks brands will require you to source and then send products on, some clothing suppliers like White2Label Manufacturing will handle the process of sourcing, branding and finishing for you so items arrive ready-to-sell.

Blanks Suppliers in the UK: A Comprehensive List

Throughout our years of manufacturing custom products for brands and creatives, we have come across an array of blank suppliers both domestically and overseas.

Below is a list of the top five blanks suppliers in the UK right now

  1. UNBND Blanks

UNBND Blanks is a fairly newly Founded blanks supplier who specialise in the creation of ultra-high-quality oversized blanks. They focus on using heavier weight jersey (480gsm for sweats and 250gsm for tees)

UNBND Blanks - Luxury Heavyweight Streetwear

Pros of UNBND Blanks:

  • Uniqueness: UNBND challenge convention and create unique pieces, hard to source anywhere else
  • Speed: They offer next day services on all domestic blank orders
  • World Wide Shipping: They offer global shipping to all brands, although all is fulfilled from their UK warehouse
  • Quality: UNBND Blanks quality is second to none; no other blanks supplier comes close to the quality these guys push
  • Low Defect Rate: Unlike other blanks suppliers, UNBND actually pose a very low defect rate - according to their studies, they have a 99.6% positive feedback score from over 3,500pcs being dispatched

Cons of UNBND Blanks:

  • Price: Due to the drastic increase in quality, UNBND is more expensive than other generic blanks suppliers
  • Options: As UNBND is a fairly new business, they have not yet built up the wealth of SKU options (although they still do have 130skus) that alternative brands might have

  1. AS Colour

AS colour is a New Zealand Founded blanks supplier which has global distribution throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and of course, the UK. They focus on superior quality and with a wealth of blank options, they are definitely one of the best suppliers for fashion brand owners.

Pros of AS Colour:

  • Stock: AS colour have a lot of it - if you’re a more established business looking for a supplier who can facilitate large runs with UK-held stock, then look no further
  • Ethical and Sustainable Supply: AS Colour pride themselves on both ethical and sustainable manufacturing. Their factories are amfori audited, and follow sustainable practices
  • Quality: AS Colour have always focused on quality over anything else and that stands true today - 17 years after inception, AS Colour are still one of the market-leaders when it comes to quality blanks suppliers
  • Speed: Similarly to UNBND, AS Colour also offer next day services and fast picking times on all domestic orders
  • Consistency Across Continents: There aren’t many blanks suppliers who run global distribution in-house with access to nearly all of the same styles across all continents. However, AS Colour pull through here - this means, you can launch multi-channel distribution for collections via this one blanks supplier.

Cons of AS Colour:

  • Selective Wholesale Process: This isn’t really a con, but more of a consideration if you’re a D2C brand looking for suppliers. AS Colour may refer you to a local customisation facility, or manufacturer to purchase through them
  • Non-Tearaway Labels: A small consideration, but AS Colour don’t include tearaway labels on most styles (in the UK distribution market), meaning unless you look at additional garment finishing options with your supplier, you may be stuck with their branded name in the neck label!

  1. Stanley / Stella

Stanley Stella are a Belgium-based blanks supplier who have dominated the market since inception. Their whole collection is manufactured from organic cottons and recycled polyesters; they are the perfect blank supplier for today's eco-conscious end consumer.

Stanley / Stella - A sustainable blanks supplier

Pros of Stanley / Stella:

  • Sustainable: Their entire collection is made from sustainable and ethically sourced materials
  • Pantones: One overlooked pro of Stanley Stella is how their entire collection is pantone matched - meaning, tees, shorts and hoodies all match shades, regardless of season
  • Stock / Styles: Stanley / Stella are one of the few blanks suppliers who consistently innovate and add new styles annually to their ranges

Cons of Stanley / Stella:

  • Hard to source: Stanley / Stella use a distribution model, meaning the easiest way to source their products at wholesale is via going to distributors. However, access to these can be difficult as a D2C brand, so you may have to go to a local print shop, or clothing manufacturer instead
  • Price Points: Similarly to the above, Stanley / Stella is more expensive than alternative blank suppliers in the market, but the quality you receive is very much worth the price you pay

Custom Clothing Manufacturers: The Process

The two main considerations you need to make when discussing manufacturing for your brand is the time and cost implication of using custom clothing manufacturers.

CMT process on sublimated fabric at White2Label

Unlike white label clothing, custom manufacturing requires a lot more steps, all of which are tailored towards your specific needs.

These steps drive the MOQs (minimum order quantities) and processing times up. However, the process will generally look like this:

  1. You locate a custom clothing manufacturer
  2. You send them your specifications, or tech packs for a quote and then proceed into a sample round
  3. Upon receipt of the sample(s) you either approve, or make amendments which can be done into the bulk, or an additional round of sampling
  4. Once approved, you proceed into the bulk order process

This as a whole can take anywhere from 3-6 months depending on the quantities you’re purchasing.

A Summary Of Considerations

In short, there is no right or wrong way to bring collections to market for your brand - it is very much circumstantial.

However, a summary might help you decide what is the best route for you and your business:

Speed: White label clothing

Design Freedom: Custom clothing manufacturing

Lower minimums: White label clothing

Scalability: Both apply here, but overall, custom clothing production is more scalable

Cost: Generally, white labelling is more cost effective from the offset, but unit prices are more competitive with scalability under bespoke manufacturing

The best route for your brand would really depend on which of these factors you favour the most. Most brands would benefit from testing the waters with more styles, under a set budget so to that end, white label clothing production would be the best route.

About the author
Anthony Mellor

Anthony Mellor is a fashion entrepreneur, writer and consultant. Anthony writes in-depth articles about topics related to fashion, business and supply chains.

Anthony successfully scaled and exited a D2C fashion brand at the young age of 20. Since then, he's gone onto start and successfully operate two multi-6-figure clothing manufacturing businesses and currently offers up one-to-one constancy to brand owners.

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