The internet has become an easy way to source fabrics. It is possible to search for types of fabrics by
Some sites simply list distributors, mills, or converters that offer particular types of fabrics, giving addresses or phone numbers, and offering Internet links if available. Cotton, Inc., www.cottoninc.com/FabricLibrary maintains a site like this for sources of cotton fabrics.
- end uses such as apparel or upholstery,
- by fabric categories such as woven or knit,
- or by specific fabric types such as fleece or denim.
Fabric mills or distributors often sell directly online. Minimum yardage or dollar amounts might be required to obtain the lowest prices. Sometimes prices decrease incrementally as order size increases. Sample swatches may be available from Internet suppliers just as from wholesale retailers. Examples of Internet textile distributors/retailers are:
Some fabric wholesalers have developed their own Internet sites for direct sales, such as the Malden Mills' (www.maldenmillsstore.com) online mill store.
Internet exchanges provide sites for buyers and sellers of materials and finished products to post requests or offers for textiles and findings. Some are limited to those with Vendor Registration (i.e., wholesale) numbers and require free registration. Two examples of this are www.textilemall.com and www.garment.com. Others have postings in business-to-consumer as well as business-to-business forums. Examples of this type are www.fabrics.com and www.womensapparel.com. For both of these, the exchange is only one portion of the site, with the remainder being devoted to directories of product suppliers for business and consumer customers alike.
Internet fabric auctions sometimes offer especially good prices on fabrics with limited availability. An example is www.buytextiles.com, a site maintained by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) for sale of fabric, yarn, home textiles, thread, apparel, textile machinery, and other textile goods. ATMI creates the structure and the procedures for registered sellers to post fabrics to auction. Each posting is run as a separate auction. Sellers pay ATMI to participate, and buyers must either be sponsored by a seller, or pay an annual fee. Sellers may be mills, finished goods manufacturers who are unable to use all the fabric they purchased, wholesalers with seasonal leftovers, or fabric jobbers, who buy overruns, sample yardage, ends of rolls and other short lengths for sale.
1. How do you register your firm to attend wholesale markets, to receive discounts, and to avoid sales taxes on material purchases?
2. Compare the advantages of purchasing materials
3. Contrast the advantages that niche apparel producers with small, specialized material needs may find with off-shore materials vendors, domestic materials vendors, and full-package contractors.
- directly from the mill
- from jobbers
- from wholesale retailers
- from full-package contractors
- from Internet exchanges and auctions.